High school essay contest announced

Feb. 15, 2013 - Civic Education Program to give away $900 in prize money to high school students
High school essay contest announced

As part of its "Roots of U.S.," the McConnell Center's civic education program has announced a 1,000-word essay contest open to Kentucky high school students. Students in grades 9-12 are eligible to compete for cash prizes totaling $900.

"The McConnell Center at the University of Louisville wants to encourage Kentucky high school students to think critically about the United States and the political and constitutional inheritance of our country," said Gary Gregg, director of the McConnell Center. "Toward that end, the McConnell Center is sponsoring an essay contest open to high school students."

Prompt: "Roots and Reform"

Students should develop a 1,000-word cogent essay focusing on the roots and potential reforms of America's government institutions. Possible areas of focus include:

  • A profile of a political founder or reformer, such as George Washington or Chief Justice Earl Warren
  • An examination of the roots of an institution or procedure and possible ideas to reform them, such as term limits for members of Congress, a Senate filibuster or executive orders made by the President
  • An exploration of one of the five “root” cities from which America draws its influence (Jerusalem, Rome, Athens, London, Philadelphia) and how that influence can be seen in our government today


  • Friday, April 15, 11:59 p.m.


  • 1st place: $400
  • 2nd place: $300
  • 3rd place: $200
  • All contest winners will be guaranteed a spot in the 2013 Young Leaders Academy conference, “Roots of U.S.: A Tale of Five Cities.”
  • The top 15 finalists will receive a copy of America’s Founding Fathers.


  • Essay is limited to 1,000 words
  • All essays should be double-spaced and use 12 point Times New Roman font
  • The last name of the contestant and page number should be situated in the upper right hand corner of ever page of the document
  • Entries should be written according to MLA format. For more information on how to cite sources according to MLA, visit the OWL at Purdue website.


  • The essay contest is open to all Kentucky high school students in grades 9-12.
  • Essay entries are limited to one (1) per student. Previous contest entries will not be considered.
  • Essays will be judged on research and understanding of budgeting and constitutional amendments, as well as organization, language (syntax and grammar), and argument quality.

How to Submit

  • Essays may be submitted online, faxed to 502-852-0046, or mailed to:
McConnell Center
ATTN: Trisha Vaughn
Ekstrom Library
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY 40292

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