The 2018 Ninth Circuit Civics Contest concluded in late June with the selection of the top three finishers in both the essay and video competitions. We estimate about 1,300 high school students from across the circuit participated in the contest, submitting many well-written essays and imaginatively produced videos. Students from Arizona and California were ultimately named the winners. As a finalist judge, I can tell you the selection process was not easy.
While we tend to gauge the success of the contest by how many students participate (and this was our best year yet), it’s good to look beyond the numbers. While they may not have submitted an essay, I like to think many, many students learned a bit more about the Constitution, the 14th Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause just by being exposed to the contest.
With such a dearth of civics education today, these students may have gained new knowledge about our democracy simply by reading a contest flyer or visiting the contest website or listening to their teachers and classmates talk about the contest.
The contest is one way for courts and the bar to establish closer relationships with educators in their communities. Another way is through teacher institutes, which many of the districts in our circuit offer. You can learn more about teacher institutes in Kari Kelso’s column elsewhere in this newsletter. Kari, who is the circuit’s public education and community outreach administrator, also talks about inviting civic education-minded judges and court staff to The Justice Anthony M. Kennedy Library and Learning Center in Sacramento this fall for an enrichment program.
Thanks for reading. Hope you have a great summer!