Two Enloe Magnet High students beat out more than 24,000 other participants for top spots in America’s largest high school essay contest conducted by the Bill of Rights Institute.
Freshman Stuart Wells earned Second Place and $1,000 and freshman Qingyang Xing earned third place and $500. Wells and Xing’s sponsoring teacher, Cameron O’Quinn, received matching cash prizes. The students represented the South Atlantic Region in the fifth annual national Being an American Essay Contest.
Wells, Xing, and O’Quinn also won paid trips to the nation’s capital, where they were honored on March 22 at an awards gala emceed by Juan Williams and featuring a keynote address by John Stossel. The Washington, D.C. trip also included a Capitol Hill luncheon and tours of the U.S. Capitol, Supreme Court, and National Archives.
The students shared their thoughts on American citizenship by answering the following question: “What civic value do you believe is most essential to being an American?”
In his essay, Wells selected “responsibility” as the civic value topic and thought James K. Polk, eleventh President of the United States, most embodied the American character. In his essay, Wells wrote, “Responsibility is the Civic Value that keeps America strong. Through its binding nature, responsibility keeps people on the right track, and gives the average American power over the government that they would otherwise not have. It is only through our citizen’s responsibility that America stays strong in this ever-changing world.”
In her essay, Xing selected “initiative” as the civic value topic and thought Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company, most embodied the American character. Xing wrote, “In America, if one takes chances and works hard, one can succeed beyond one’s wildest dreams: from the leaders of the fledgling country of America, to the pamphlets written by Thomas Paine, to Henry Ford, the prominent American industrialist who revolutionized the automobile industry, to the millions of immigrants who arrive here to start a new life. The pivotal step to success is to take the leap of faith, taking initiative to get the show on the road.”
You can find more information on the Being an American Essay Contest at www.BillofRightsInstitute.org.