The NDNY-FCBA Constitutional Scholars Program has launched its Sixth Annual Constitution Contest, open to all students in grades 9 through 12 in the 32 counties that constitute the Northern District of New York.
As they did last year, contest entries must regard the origin of some aspect of the U.S. Constitution, addressing a specific topic in a specific category. However, both the topics and categories have been narrowed this year, based on the topics students chose to address last year, the categories they chose to enter, and the nature of their entries.
More specifically, the number of categories has been narrowed from four to three: (1) Essays; (2) Artistic Works (i.e., poems, short stories and graphic art); and (3) Video Performances (e.g., recitations, speeches, songs and skits).
In addition, the number of topics available for entries in all three categories has been narrowed from nineteen to five:
- How the framers tried to make federal court judges independent (e.g., from the influence of the other branches of government, as well as from popular opinion);
- Whom each of the two chambers of our bicameral legislature was originally intended to represent (i.e., before 1913), and why;
- Who argued against, and who argued for, the ratification of the Bill of Rights, and what their respective arguments were;
- Why freedom of speech was one of the first rights mentioned in the Bill of Rights, and why; and
- Wow the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence promised rights that were not provided a dozen years later in the Constitution, and how the rights were eventually provided.
Finally, entries in the Video Performance category may also regard one of the following four topics:
- A recitation and discussion from memory of the subject of each of the seven articles of the Constitution;
- A recitation and discussion from memory of the 17 enumerated powers of Congress listed in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution;
- A recitation from memory of the rights protected by the 27 amendments to the Constitution; and
- A recitation from memory of James Madison’s famous “If men were angels” passage from Federalist Paper No. 51 (which is 8 sentences, or 154 words, long).
Entries are due by March 31, 2021. All entries – redacted to keep the entrant’s identity anonymous – will be evaluated by at least 3 federal judges. Prize winners will be announced by June 25, 2021. A total of $4,500 in monetary prizes will be awarded across all three categories, with the winner of each category guaranteed a prize of at least $750. Over the past five years, the Program has awarded $14,350 in prize money to 56 students from 19 high schools across the Northern District.
Notices of the contest have been emailed to, among other officials, the principals of each high school in the NDNY as well as the directors of area home-schooling associations. But, because some students may not be notified of the contest by busy teachers, members of the FCBA who know of students who might be interested are encouraged to inform them of the contest.
More details about the contest may be found at http://www.constitutionalscholars.org/