Essay Contest

Children writing as their teacher watches over them

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office is proud to announce the winners of an essay contest introduced last fall to encourage students to be actively engaged citizens. The contest, along with the Student Mock Election, is part of the office’s civic engagement program.

Students were asked to write about voting with length requirements varying by grade level. Winners will receive a TNStars 529 College Savings Program scholarship and a trip to the State Capitol this spring. First place winners receive a $500 scholarship, with second and third place winners receiving $250 and $100 respectively.

2016 Civics Essay Contest Winners

Ninth – Twelfth Grade:

  • First: David Lee, Germantown High School (Shelby County)
  • Second: Vishnu Reddy, Franklin High School (Williamson County)
  • Third: Destiny Cogdill, Rhea County Academy (Rhea County)
  • Honorable Mentions: Ashley Tomlinson, Meigs County High School (Meigs County)

Sixth – Eighth Grade:

Third – Fifth Grade:

  • First: Isabella Balturshot, Guild Elementary School (Sumner County)
  • Second: Andrew Bechtel, Poplar Grove School (Williamson County)
  • Third: Samuel Latham, East Elementary School (Madison County)
  • Honorable Mentions: Audrey Grant, East Robertson Elementary School (Robertson County); Jacob Mahan, Lara Kendall Elementary School (Lake County); Jacilyn Visor, Thelma Barker Elementary School (Madison County)

Kindergarten – Second Grade:

  • First: Katie Peachey, East Elementary School (Madison County)
  • Second: Maggie Gibson, Ezell-Harding Christian School (Davidson County)
  • Third: Emily Parker, Woodland Elementary School (Cannon County)
  • Honorable Mentions: Jillian Balcunas, Thelma Barker Elementary School (Madison County); Calleigh Kemp, Robert F. Woodall Elementary School (Robertson County); Cooper Logan, Fairview Elementary School (Blount County)

Below are the prompts that the students were given.


Essay Prompts & Requirements

The theme of the essay contest is voting. Schools can choose up to two (2) essays from each grade range listed below to submit for the contest.

Grades 9-12

Word Count Limit: 500 words

Surveys show that the younger generations are becoming increasingly disengaged from the electoral process, especially the “millennial” generation. Why do you think this trend is occurring and what is one way to get more young people involved in the process?

Grades 6-8

Word Count Limit: 350 words

Looking at history, the people’s participation is one of the founding principles of democracy and American government. Why is it important that we still vote and participate in elections today?

Grades 3-5

Word Count Limit: 250 words

There have been many inspiring leaders throughout history, many of them elected officials. Because one person can make a difference, why is it important that we participate in elections and choose our leaders?

Grades K-2

Word Count Limit: 50 words accompanied by a drawing. Drawings may not exceed 11” x 17” in size. Words can be incorporated into drawing or attached separately.

In 50 words or less, state why it is important to vote. Draw a picture to illustrate.