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Civics Contest Winners Hail from Alaska and Nevada

The essay and video competition for high school students is cosponsored by the Courts and Community Committee and all of the judicial districts in the circuit.

Young people from Alaska and Nevada were selected the winners of the 2017 Ninth Circuit Civics Contest. “Not to Be Forgotten: Legal Lessons of the Japanese Internment” was the theme of the contest, which focused on the incarceration of Japanese-American citizens at the outset of World War II and its relevance today as our government seeks to protect the nation from terrorism. The winning essay was submitted by Olivia Colleen Tafs, 15, a freshman at West Anchorage High School in Anchorage, Alaska. The winning video was submitted by Joshua Riel, 18, a senior at the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts in Las Vegas, Nevada.


The winners, each accompanied by a parent, attended the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference in San Francisco, where the winning essay was read and the winning video shown during a supplemental civics education program. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch presented both students with plaques commemorating their achievements. Also attending the program were a number of students from the San Francisco Bay Area who had participated in the contest. The group included the second-place finisher in the circuit essay competition, Brandon Shi, a junior at Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon, California. More than 1,000 young people entered the contest. All of the nine western states and two Pacific island jurisdictions that comprise the circuit were represented among the finalists.

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