By: Lauren E. Sharkey and Emily C. Walsh
This is the fourth consecutive year of the Civic Prize Poster and Essay Contest for high school students, sponsored by the Young Lawyers Section and the Law, Youth and Citizenship Committee. This year, the contest was opened to two new counties, Suffolk and Nassau, for a total of 31 counties across New York State.
In November 2015, more than 500 schools within the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th, and now 10th Judicial Districts were asked to distribute contest requirements and enrollment forms to eligible 11th and 12th graders from schools within the 31 counties.
The contest was established to serve as a platform to enhance students' understanding of U.S. government. Cash prizes for first, second, and third place, funded by the State Bar's Law, Youth and Citizenship Committee, are awarded.
For poster submissions, students must feature the American flag, all three branches of government and address at least one issue concerning the U.S. Constitution. For essay submissions, students must discuss what the American flag stands for, include all three branches of government and address at least one issue concerning the U.S. Constitution.
Prior to submitting the posters and essays to the Civics Prize Committee, school officials use the Contest Judging Rubric to grade the submissions. Each school is asked to choose one poster and one essay for consideration.
The Young Lawyers Section (YLS) Civics Prize Committee reviewed the submissions and determined this year's winners. They are:
For well written, outstanding essay submissions, First Place: Giuliana M. Mertz, Schalmont High School, Schenectady (Schenectady County, 4th District); Second Place: Alesha Louise Heacock, Fonda-Fultonville High School, Fonda (Montgomery County, 4th District); and Third Place: Ronnie Holmes, Syracuse Academy of Science Charter School, Syracuse (Onondaga County, 5th District).
For creative, exceptional poster submissions, First Place: John Sullivan, Somers High School, Lincolndale (Westchester County, 9th District); Second Place: Robert Weinfich II, Simon Kellrs, and Esther Jewett, Cohoes High School, Cohoes (Albany County, 3rd District); and Third Place: Khadijan Blackshear, Thomas R. Proctor High School, Utica (Oneida County, 5th District).
The YLS Civics Prize Committee hopes to continue to host this contest and expand it to other counties and judicial districts. The contest is heavily dependent on each school's participation.
Sharkey, of Niskayuna, is an associate at Cioffi Slezak Wildgrube PC, where she focuses her practice on estate planning and administration, business and corporate law, real estate and elder law. Walsh, of Westchester, is an associate at Miller Zeiderman Wiederkehr & Schwarz LLP, where she focuses her practice exclusively in the fields of matrimonial and family law.