Story of America Essay Contest

Essay Prompt and Rules

The goal of the Operation Protect & Defend Story of America Essay Contest is to encourage critical thinking, active discussion and thoughtful writing about what it means to be a “good citizen” in America today.  Americans enjoy a broad range of Constitutional rights that persons living in many other countries do not. These rights include freedom of speech and religion, a right to a fair trial, and a right to due process and equal protection, to name a few. Along with these rights, we believe, come certain responsibilities, including the responsibility of each new generation of Americans to maintain and protect those rights in light of the circumstances and challenges facing their lives, their communities and their nation. Teachers working with Operation Protect & Defend have developed a curriculum related to these rights. This course of study includes selected readings provided by the teachers, along with relevant court opinions. It also involves in-class discussion and in-class writing about questions raised by the materials.

Based on the above, all 12th grade students in participating classes within the Sacramento City Unified School District, Twin Rivers Unified School District, San Juan Unified School District, Natomas Unified School District, Folsom Cordova Unified School District, Elk Grove Unified School District, and the Sacramento County Office of Education are invited to enter this essay contest. Students wcompete for cash awards.


Awards
 

Justice Robert K. Puglia Most Original and Inspirational Essays Awards
Two Awards of $1,000.00 each
Hon. Frank C. Damrell Jr. (Ret.) Lawyers’ Choice Essay Award
Two Awards of $1,000.00 each
Jean McEvoy Memorial Award
One Award of $1,000.00
Bion M. Gregory Essay Recognition Awards
Awards of $250.00 each
Teachers’ Choice Awards
Awards of $200.00 each

 
Notification of Winners and Award Dinner: Winners will be notified by the end of April 2018. An awards ceremony and dinner will be held on  May 10, 2018 at the Sheraton Hotel in Sacramento. Details on the dinner and ceremony can be found on the Registration Page as the event draws near.


Essay Prompt for 2017-2018 School Year

2018_Prompt.docx


Rules and Guidelines

1. The Story of America Essay Contest is open to all eligible 12th grade students enrolled in participating social science/government/economics/legal classes within the Sacramento City Unified School District, Twin Rivers Unified School District, San Juan Unified School District, Natomas Unified School District, Elk Grove Unified School District, Folsom Cordova Unified School District and the Sacramento County Office of Education. Relatives of Operation Protect & Defend steering committee members are ineligible.

2. The essay must be based on the reading materials, in-class discussions and in-class writings relating to the topic. The essay must be your original work.

3. Provide ONE copy of your essay. Your essay may be typewritten, word-processed, or neatly handwritten. It must be double-spaced using one side of 8-1/2 x 11” paper. Number the pages consecutively (1, 2, 3. . .). If you handwrite your essay in class, you are strongly encouraged to staple a typewritten or word-processed copy of the essay to your handwritten entry. However, any substantive differences between the handwritten in-class essay and the typewritten or word-processed duplicate may be grounds for disqualifying your essay from the contest. Illegible essays will not be considered.

4. The maximum number of words permitted is 2,000. If typed, the type font must be 12 point or larger in a legible font (such as Times New Roman).

5. The completed Application Form must accompany the essay. Your name must NOT appear on the essay itself, only on the application form.

6. You must do your own work, during class as assigned and under the supervision of a teacher participating in the project. Your teacher must receive a copy of your essay and sign your application form. Your essay must be turned into your teacher by a March 9, 2018 to ensure that you are entered in the Contest.

7. The Story of America program sponsors reserve the right to reprint entries. Essays will not be returned. If you want a copy of your essay for your own records, you must make a copy before submitting it.

8. To facilitate the submission of essays and notification of winners, OPD liaisons have been appointed for each of the participating schools.

   
   

Judging Criteria:

A distinguished group of local judges, lawyers, and community leaders will judge the essays using the following guidelines:

UNDERSTANDING (Maximum points = 10)

 10
Demonstrates a meaningful understanding of all key issues
 8
Demonstrates a meaningful understanding of some key issues
 6
Demonstrates a meaningful understanding of a key issue
 4
Demonstrates a basic understanding of some issues
 2
Demonstrates a limited understanding of the issues

PERSPECTIVE/ORIGINALITY
 (Maximum points = 15)
 15
Expresses original ideas and extraordinary sense of personal commitment that inspires reader
 12
Expresses some original ideas and a strong sense of personal commitment that is compelling
 9
Expresses personal feelings on the subject that are compelling
 6
Expresses a strong statement on the subject
 1
Expresses limited personal interest in the subject with few original thoughts

 
WRITING (Maximum points = 5)

Quality of writing style and structure.

   
   

 

 

Join The Team

Operation Protect & Defend is a program for Sacramento area high schools sponsored by the The Sacramento Federal Judicial Library & Learning Center.
If you are a teacher, administrator, student, judge or lawyer wanting to get involved in Operation Protect & Defend, we encourage you to contact us for additional information.

Apply Now >>