How might you use civic principles to solve a problem facing your community - and what primary sources, like the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution, support your idea?
That's the question that more than 100 Maryland middle-school students answered in an essay contest to qualify for the first-ever National Civics Bee.
The Civics Bee is set to bring 60 students from around the country to Bowie State University on May 7, to compete in a live quiz-style event testing their civics knowledge.
The Maryland Chamber Foundation, which is one of the organizers, just announced ten winners of the 500-word essay contest - three of them from Baltimore County Public Schools. The winners will join others from five other states to compete in the live quiz event, with the first-place winner getting a $1,000 cash prize.
Those winners are:
- Celeste D., The Key School, grade 6
- Charlie H., New Hope Academy, grade 7
- Elizabeth S., Oakland Mills Middle School, grade 8
- Gianna S., home school, grade 6
- Jacqueline N., Redland Middle School, grade 8
- Michael A., Franklin Middle School, grade 8
- Ogala N., home school, grade 8
- Oluwanifemi A., Franklin Middle School, grade 7
- Rayn M., Northwest Academy of Health Sciences, grade 7
- Sahasra K., Chapelgate Christian Academy, grade 6
The Civics Bee "engages middle schoolers to become better informed about American democracy, to engage respectfully and constructively in the public square and to build greater trust in others and institutions," according to a press release.
The Maryland Chamber said 101 students from across the state wrote on the following essay topic:
Identify a problem facing your community. How might a citizen solve the problem? Write a
500-word essay, two pages, double-spaced, that includes the following:
• What is the problem, and how do different members in your community or neighborhood
• What civic principles or systems could help to address the problem?
• What is your idea or recommendation for solving the problem?
• What primary sources, such as the Declaration of Independence or the United States
Constitution, provide supporting evidence or examples for your idea or recommendation?
• How might members of your community or neighborhood bring your idea or
recommendation to life?
The event is being organized by chambers of commerce in six states, including Maryland. (Besides the Maryland Chamber Foundation, partners include Brownsville Chamber of Commerce, Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, Kentucky Chamber Foundation, Chamber of Commerce for North Iowa, and Thermopolis Chamber of Commerce in Wyoming.)
In Maryland, the event is being sponsored by Amazon. The quiz event will be judged by Deborah Phelps, executive director of The Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools; state Del. Anne Kaiser from Montgomery County; and Clarence Crawford, president of the Maryland State Board of Education.