Being an American Essay Contest deadline approaches

The deadline for high school students and their teachers to submit essays for the Bill of Rights Institute’s national Being an American Essay Contest is fast approaching. The contest asks students to share their thoughts on American citizenship by answering the question: “What civic value do you believe is most essential to being an American?”

The Essay Contest calls upon students to think about the greatest civic values in America. By encouraging students to consider and weigh American values, the Essay Contest serves as a key part of the Bill of Rights Institute’s mission to educate young people about the words and ideas of America's Founders, the liberties guaranteed in our Founding documents, and how our Founding principles continue to affect and shape a free society.

Essay entries are due by 11:59 p.m. EST on Dec. 1. Teachers must submit essays online at for a chance to win cash prizes from a pool totaling $115,000 and one of 54 all-expenses paid trips to the nation’s capital (awarded both to teachers and their students). Supporting contest materials, including lesson plans meeting national academic standards, are provided at no cost to teachers who want to incorporate the essay topic into the classroom.

The names of the top three prize winners in the nine contest regions will be announced at a special Washington, D.C. Awards Gala in the spring of 2011. The first place winners in each region and their sponsoring teachers will each receive $5,000 cash awards; second place winners $1,000, and third place winners $500. Honorable mention prizes of $100 will be awarded to 7 students and teachers from each contest region.

The winners will also be treated to a tour of prominent national landmarks and will hear from a range of important voices on American citizenship. This year’s keynote address to the winning students will be given by FOX Business Host John Stossel and author and FOX News Commentator Juan Williams will serve as Master of Ceremonies. Past years’ winners met with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who keynoted the awards gala; retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; Pro Football Hall of Fame Cornerback Darrell Green; and FOX News Commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano.

Visit the Being an American web site at for complete rules and materials, including submission details, lesson plans and background information on the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Founders, and other Americans who have contributed to America’s shared civic values.

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