FCBA Essay Contest Continues to Evolve

Published: June 1, 2021

The FCBA’s Sixth Annual Essay Contest received more than three-dozen entries from high school students across the Northern District, including video entries posted on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok.

Nine high schools were represented this year: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School in Saratoga County, Cazenovia High School in Madison County, Fayetteville-Manlius High School in Onondaga County, Guilderland High School in Albany County, Lafayette High School in Onondaga County, Manlius Pebble Hill School in Onondaga County, Mekeel Christian Academy in Schenectady County, Notre Dame High School in Herkimer County, and Queensbury High School in Warren County.

Entries were submitted in each of the contest’s three categories: the Essay Category, Artistic Works Category (for poems, short stories and graphic art), and the Video Performance Category (for recitations, speeches, songs and skits). All entries concern the origin of some aspect of the U.S. Constitution. This year’s entries cover an array of subjects:

  1. how the framers made federal court judges independent (e.g., from the influence of the other branches of government, as well as from popular opinion), and why;
  2. who each of the two chambers of our bicameral legislature was originally intended to represent (i.e., before 1913), and why;
  3. who argued against, and who argued for, the ratification of the Bill of Rights, and what their arguments were;
  4. why freedom of speech was one of the first rights mentioned in the Bill of Rights;
  5. how 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;
  6. a recitation from memory of the rights protected by the 27 amendments to the Constitution; and
  7. a recitation from memory of James Madison’s famous “If men were angels” passage from Federalist Paper No. 51.

Entries in the Essay Category will be evaluated by Chief U.S. District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby, U.S. District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino and U.S. District Judge Brenda K. Sannes. Entries in the Artistic Works and Video Performance Categories will evaluated by U.S. Magistrate Judge Thérèse Wiley Dancks, U.S. Magistrate Judge Christian F. Hummel, U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel J. Stewart, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Miro Lovric.

Entries will be evaluated based on originality, clarity, historical accuracy, thoroughness and persuasiveness. Entries have been redacted to keep each entrant’s identity anonymous.

Prize winners will be announced by June 25, 2021. 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. More details about the contest can be found at www.constitutionalscholars.org.