Terrence Blanca of Saipan Southern High School won first place at the NMI district level for the 2016 Ninth Circuit Civics contest, an essay and video competition for high school students.
Gio Hur of Saipan International School bagged the second place award, while Mary Grace Tiglao of Marianas High School received third place.
Blanca, Hur, and Tiglao were awarded cash prizes and certificates. Their winning pieces will go on to compete in the Ninth Circuit contest.
U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona and U.S. District Court for the NMI Magistrate Judge Heather L. Kennedy announced in court on Friday the top three winners.
Manglona, Kennedy, and law clerk Richard Miller also handed certificates for participation to five other students.
The U.S. District Court for the NMI conducted the preliminary judging for the contest.
Blanca, 18, said he feels excited winning first place in the district level.
Blanca said he turned in his essay of less than 750 words last April for a school assignment.
He said the essay was assigned to them from one of their language arts teachers, who recommended that they also submit their essays in the competition.
Blanca remembered that he did not get a high grade for the assignment.
“I said, oh, why not just turned it in and see what happens. I’m surprised that I did well,” said Blanca, who prepared his essay for a week.
Manglona, Kennedy, and Miller congratulated the winners and the participants.
Manglona and Kennedy briefly discussed the importance of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the 1966 Miranda v. Arizona case, in which the court ruled that someone taken into police custody must be informed—prior to questioning—of their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The 2016 Ninth Circuit Civics Contest with a theme “50 years after the Miranda decision” was sponsored by the U.S. District Court for the NMI and the Ninth Circuit Courts and community Committee.
The contest asked high school students to consider how Miranda rights came to be defined, how they are safeguarded by the federal courts, and why they are so important to the justice system.
The contest was open to sophomore, junior, and senior high school students in nine western states, the CNMI, and Guam.
The contest has two components—individual students expressing their thoughts and ideas in an essay and individual students or teams of up to three students submitting a 2-3 minute video presentation on the theme.
Circuit contest winners will be announced in June 2016.
Manglona said cash prizes will be awarded to Circuit winners for both contests. She said first place will receive $2,000 cash, second place will get $1,000, and third place will be given $500.
Manglona encouraged more students to participate at next year’s Ninth Circuit Civics contest.