Four High School Writers Earn Prizes in National "Idea of America" Essay Contest

WASHINGTON, (October 2, 2006)

Humanities Endowment to name grand prize winner Nov. 6 at Supreme Court event

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today selected four high school seniors as finalists in the nationwide "Idea of America" Essay Contest held as a part of the We the People program. The program, launched by President Bush in September 2002, supports the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture.

The four winners of the 2006 "Idea of America" Essay Contest (listed alphabetically) are Sean Frazier, 17, of Montauk, N.Y.; Sang "Bill" Jung, 17, of Rochester Hills, Mich.; Elise Liu, 17, of Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Anna Pritt, 17, of Walkersville, Md. Each winner will receive a prize of $1,000 and attend a national awards ceremony and dinner held Nov. 6 at the Supreme Court. Hosted by NEH, the ceremony will feature the presentation of medals to the four winners in honor of their achievement and the designation of one of the four students as the grand prize winner, who will receive a total prize of $5,000.

"The core tenet of our We the People program is that a knowledge of America's history and founding principles is vital to both active citizenship and a robust democracy," said National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman Bruce Cole, "Each of the essay winners demonstrated an exceptional understanding of historical deliberations on the First Amendment, as well as how the Amendment impacts our nation today. I congratulate each of them on their engagement in the ongoing study of our American ideals, and I look forward to discussing their thoughts in greater depth when we meet in Washington."

When introducing the We the People initiative in 2002, President George W. Bush stated, "To be an American is not just a matter of blood or birth; we are bound by ideals, and our children must know those ideals."

The young essayists wrote about the historical debate our founders had over the benefits and disadvantages of adopting the First Amendment to the Constitution, and they explained, in 1,500 words, whether the freedoms named in the First Amendment are fundamental to the functioning of our democracy.

This year's contest drew entries in early 2006 from more than 1,700 11th-grade public, private, and home-schooled students across the nation. Essays were first evaluated by 16 history teachers. Those essays with the highest scores were then reviewed by staff at the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum in Chicago and members of the National Council on the Humanities who recommended finalists to NEH Chairman Bruce Cole. The Chairman made the final selections.

The National Endowment for the Humanities gratefully acknowledges the generous support provided by the McCormick Tribune Foundation for the Endowment's We the People program.

Read the essays submitted by Sean FrazierSang (Bill) JungElise Liu, and Anna Pritt.

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