Each year the Freedom Festival Essay Contest gives rise to expressions of patriotism from students in K-12th grades throughout the nation.
This year’s theme focuses on the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights. Deadline is February 26.
Theme: First Amendment
Eligibility: Open to all students K-12
Media: PDF, Docx
Submission Deadline: Feb 26
Divisions: K-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12
All entries must be the student’s original work. No one else is allowed to alter it in any way.
- The Freedom Festival Essay Contest is open to ALL Students in grades K-12, whether in traditional public schools, public chartered schools, private schools, or home schools.
- All entries must be received no later than Feb 26.
- All submitted essays must include a completed Contest Entry. Must be limited to 1000 words. That is the equivalent of two single-spaced pages. No personal or identifying information may appear on the essay itself. (No names, grades, teachers’ names or school names on the essays.)
- Winners will be notified by email when judging is completed. Original essays will not be returned.
Cash prizes will be based on judging criteria.
Grade 10-12: Win up to $500.00
Grade 7-9: Win up to $200.00
Grade 4-6: Win up to $100.00
Grade K-3: Win up to $75.00
Essay Contest Rubric
|Judging Criteria||10 9 8||7 6 5 4||3 2 1 0|
|Exposition of Theme (40%) |
∙ Presents ideas clearly
∙ Develops ideas showing depth and/or higher-level thinking (analysis, etc.)
∙ Provides support for claims (examples, narrative, data)
|Meets all criteria at a high level; ideas are clear and developed||Meets some criteria; uneven; has lapses in clarity or development||Meets few criteria; often unclear or |
|Depth of Insight (30%) |
∙ Addresses the theme of Freedom
∙ Clearly connects to at least one festival value (God, family, freedom, and county)
∙ Remains connected to the theme throughout the essay
|Meets all criteria at a high level; easy to follow; has few errors given age of writer||Meets some criteria; uneven in addressing theme; only partially connects to one or more festival theme||Meets few criteria; does not adequately address theme; |
lacks connection to at least one festival value
|Writing Skill (20%) |
∙ Provides organization (essay or paragraph level) in relation to age of writer
∙ Avoids sentence-level errors in relation to age of writer
∙ Incorporates and/or cites sources as appropriate for age
Meets all criteria at a high level; easy to follow; has few errors given age of writer
|Meets some criteria; demonstrates uneven organization; has several sentence level errors||Meets few criteria; lacks organizing; has a significant number of errors|
|Sincerity of Tone (10%) |
∙ Appropriate tone (not too formal or informal in style, word choice, etc.) for assignment and age of writer
∙ Shows audience awareness (when appropriate)
|Meets all criteria at a high level; stylistically pleasing and age appropriate||Meets some criteria; uneven in style||Meets few criteria; stylistically inappropriate|
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Students may choose to write about the purposes and applications of the First Amendment that may include its history, adoption, and recognition of significant individuals involved. Or they may write on any concept or specific freedom included in the First Amendment such as the Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Freedom to peacefully Assemble, and Freedom to Petition the Government. Students may also apply the First Amendment protections to current or historical situations and court cases.
Do you think the freedoms identified in the First Amendment would already be protected in a democracy where citizens have a role in shaping the government? Was it necessary to establish these rights in an official document?
The First Amendment does not permit people to do anything they want to do. How and why are the liberties and rights of people not unlimited? In what kinds of situations do you think it is fair and reasonable to limit freedom of expressions?
Are the First Amendment freedoms among the “self-evident” …Are the First Amendment freedoms among the “self-evident” and “unalienable rights” referred to in the Declaration of Independence? What is the relationship of the Declaration of Independence to the Bill of Rights?
What do you think about Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis statement that the founding generation â€œbelieved that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth; that without free speech and assembly discussion would be futile; that with them, discussion affords ordinarily adequate protection against the dissemination of noxious doctrine; that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government.â€?