Joshua Alfred wins Ninth Circuit Civics contest

Melchor, Manase, and Ocampo get top prize in video category

Joshua Alfred won first place in the essay competition, while Jeff Melchor, Angelo Manase, and Justin Ocampo won first place in the video category at the district level in the 2018 Ninth Circuit Civics contest for high school students.

In the essay division, Eric Kiser grabbed the second place award, while Maria Gregoire got third place. Theresa Zheng and Monica Aira Usi were awarded honorable mention.

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 the winners last Tuesday afternoon.

Manglona and Kennedy said that, unlike last year when they knew the schools of the winners, this year they didn’t know the names of schools, pursuant to the Ninth Circuit rules of the contest.

The winners will receive cash prizes and certificates.

The District Court conducted the preliminary judging for the contest.

The winning video and essay will go on to compete in the Ninth Circuit level contest.

There were 21 submissions for essays and four video entries.

Manglona and Kennedy said they made the selection last week, but they had to submit the winners to the Ninth Circuit last Tuesday.

The awarding ceremony was supposed to be last Tuesday afternoon, but none of the winners showed up at the District Court, possibly as the students were still in school.

Manglona said the top winners in the Ninth Circuit level will have their videos and the essays on the website of the competition.

The U.S. District Court for the NMI and the Ninth Circuit Courts and community committee sponsored the Ninth Circuit Civics contest.

This year’s theme is “The 14th Amendment—150 Years after Ratification. What Does Equal Protection Mean to Students?”

Manglona said this year’s contest is a little bit of a challenge.

“I believe the topic tends to be very contemporary,” Manglona said, citing that it’s the 150th anniversary of the passage of the 14th Amendment.

The judge said this is the Amendment that was passed after the American Civil War, in which there was a slavery issue.

“There’s still some very relevant current issues. How does the 14th Amendment apply today?” Manglona said.

The contest asked high school students to consider how the equal protection clause applies in high schools, colleges, and graduate schools, whether in admissions, classrooms or on athletic fields.

Individual students were asked to express their thoughts and ideas in an essay. A student may submit both an essay of between 500 and 1,000 words. Individuals and teams of up to three students can produce a 3-5-minute video on the theme.

A student may submit only one essay and be involved in the production of only one video.

The essays or video should demonstrate an understanding of the historic background of the equal protection clause; explain the constitutional powers and rights relevant to the court cases and laws; and discuss the important role of the Judicial Branch in preserving the rights of Americans to equal education.

The contest was open to high school students in nine western states, the CNMI, and Guam.

Manglona said cash prizes will be awarded to District 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.

In addition, travel and accommodations will be given to attend the 2018 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference in Anaheim, California.

Manglona and Kennedy encouraged more high school students to join next year’s Ninth Circuit Civics competition.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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