Essay Contest Expands to Include Art, Videos and Poems

Published: January 21, 2020

The NDNY-FCBA’s Constitutional Scholars Program has expanded its Fifth Annual Essay Contest to include categories for video performances, graphic art and poems/short stories. The contest is open to all students in grades 9 through 12 in the 32 counties that constitute the Northern District of New York.

As in prior years, entries in each category must address the origin of some aspect of the U.S. Constitution. This year, the number of available topics has been expanded from 7 to 19, see Topics include the following: (1) what steps did the framers take to help ensure that federal court judges remain independent, and why; (2) how did the framers use the ideas of separation of powers and checks-and-balances, and why; and (3) to what extent did the Declaration of Independence and Constitution make both necessary and possible the 13th Amendment and/or 19th Amendment?

Essays must be typed, between 1,000 and 2,000 words in length, and based exclusively on primary sources that are cited in a recognized system of citation. Video performances (e,g., a speech, skit or song, etc.) must be fewer than 10 minutes in duration, and may be submitted through, or through TikTok and then emailed to the Program Director.

Submissions are due by March 31, 2020. All entries – redacted to keep the entrant’s identity anonymous – will be evaluated by between 3 and 6 federal judges. Prize winners will be announced by June 15, 2020.

A total of $4,500 in monetary prizes will be awarded for entrants winning first place, second place, third place and honorable mention in each category. Last year, 24 students from 8 high schools, both public and private, won monetary prizes. This year the number of monetary prize winners is expected to double.

Notices of the contest have been emailed to the administrators of each high school in the NDNY. 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