Secretary of State Tre Hargett Honors Knox County Students Smith and Johnson as Civics Essay Winners

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett recently honored Knox County students Jasmine Smith and Nancy Claire Johnson for winning the statewide 2023 Civics Essay Contest.

The contest was open to all Tennessee students in public, charter, private school, or home school associations in grades K-12. Schools selected up to two essays from each grade level to submit for the contest, which featured the theme “Why Civility Matters.” 

Smith, a student at Knoxville Montessori School, placed first in the 6-8th grade category. Johnson, a student at Farragut Intermediate School, placed third in the 3-5th grade category.

“Congratulations to Jasmine Smith and Nancy Claire Johnson on their first and third-place finishes in the 2023 Civics Essay Contest,” said Secretary Hargett. “They demonstrate the future of our great state is bright.”

Smith and Johnson visited the State Capitol on March 21, 2024, to receive their awards. Both earned TNStars 529 College Savings Program scholarships for their winning essays. Statewide, 7,749 students participated in this year’s contest.

The Secretary of State’s Civics Essay Contest, Anne Dallas Dudley Award, College Voter Registration Competition, and Student Mock Election are part of the office’s longstanding civics engagement efforts to prepare students to be actively engaged citizens. 

The Secretary of State’s office also offers free lesson plans to help teachers incorporate civic engagement and citizenship into their curriculum. The plans, based on the Tennessee Blue Book, were initiated by the Secretary of State’s office and created by Tennessee teachers. For more information about the Civics Essay Contest and the Secretary of State’s other civic engagement education efforts, visit