Essay Contest

Students writing together at a table

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office is pleased to announce the winners of its 2017 civics essay contest, an annual initiative created to encourage students to be actively engaged citizens.

Students were asked to write about citizenship 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.

2017 Civics Essay Contest Winners

Ninth – 12th Grade:

  • First: Simon Jolly, Hardin Valley Academy (Knox County)
  • Second: Karla Hines, Whitehaven High School (Shelby County)
  • Third: Kennedy Cole, Mt. Juliet High School (Wilson County)
  • Honorable Mention: Gaige Guyer, Powell High School (Knox County)

Sixth – Eighth Grade:

  • First: Grace Darke, Christ the King School (Davidson County)
  • Second: Isabelle Sorensen, East Hamilton Middle High School (Hamilton County)
  • Third: Lauren Mansfield, Centertown Elementary School (Warren County)
  • Honorable Mention: Lauren Perry, Westwood Middle School (Coffee County)

Third – Fifth Grade:

  • First: Annabelle Kelly, Our Lady of Perpetual Help School (Hamilton County)
  • Second: Asa Cullity, South Cumberland Elementary School (Cumberland County)
  • Third: Sam Daugherty, Homeschool, Classical Conversations (Montgomery County)
  • Honorable Mentions: Elsa Smith, Covenant Academy (Warren County); Maddie Boyd, Oak Elementary School (Shelby County)

Kindergarten – Second Grade:

  • First: Maci Aylor, Blue Grass Elementary School (Knox County)
  • Second: Kirsten Williams, Ezell-Harding Christian School (Davidson County)
  • Third: Brady Watts, Sylvan Park Paideia Design Center (Davidson County)
  • Honorable Mention: Ava Aldridge, Allons Elementary School (Overton County)


Below are the prompts that the students were given.


Grades 9-12: Word Count Limit: 750 words

Why should citizens care about local government? What are some practical ways for citizens to engage with their local government?

Grades 6-8: Word Count Limit: 500 words

If you were in charge of creating a new country, what would you include in the constitution and why? What would be the rights and responsibilities of the citizens?

Grades 3-5: Word Count Limit: 350 words

The Tennessee Constitution says “all power is inherent in the people.” Why is it important that people participate in their government? How can they do that?

Grades K-2: Word Count Limit: 100 words accompanied by a drawing. Drawings may not exceed 11” x 17” in size. Words can be incorporated into the drawing or attached separately.

In 100 words or less, what does it mean to be a good citizen? Draw a picture to illustrate.


If you have any questions, please contact us:
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