Six MHS students hurdle the prelims of 9th Circuit contest


Six Marianas High School students have hurdled the preliminary judging of the 2022 Ninth Circuit Civics Contest for high school students in the western United States and two Pacific island jurisdictions.

In the essay category, the winners are John Lawrence Apit, first place; Jenny Min, second place; and Samantha Gabrielle Flores, third place.

In the video category, the winners are Wendy Zha, first place; Amena Mahmud, second place; and Grace Ju, third place.

All six students are from Marianas High School. Their wins make them finalists in the contest and will advance to the final round of competition.

In Guam, the essay winners are: first place, Jin Chung of St. John’s School in Tumon; second place, Reagan Budasi of the Academy of Our Lady of Guam in Hagåtña; and third place, Arianne Canlas, also of the Academy of Our Lady of Guam.

The video winners are: first place, the team of Josh Santiago, Rachel Cabales and Kedrick Diego of George Washington High School in Mangilao; second place, the team of Alexander Gayle and Jin Chung of St. John’s School in Tumon; and third place, Kelvin Lee, also of St. John’s School. They also received some cash prizes because contests sponsored by some judicial districts in the Ninth Circuit offered cash prizes and/or certificates for the winners.

In all, the circuit received 800 essays and 112 videos this year.

This year’s contest focused on students’ free speech rights. The contest challenged students to address “What are students’ free speech rights—and responsibilities—on and off campus?” Participants were asked to consider what rights the First Amendment provides to students engaging in free speech, both inside and outside of school.

The contest was open to high school students in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington state, the U.S. territory of Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

In all, 42 essays and 29 videos out of the 912 total entries received were selected to advance to the next round for consideration by judges, court staff and members of the bar. The Ninth Circuit Public Information and Community Outreach Committee will determine the final winners at the circuit level. PICO is responsible for organizing and sponsoring the contest together with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the 15 federal judicial districts that comprise the circuit.

First-place winners at the circuit level will be invited to attend the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference in Big Sky, Montana, and a total of $11,400 in cash prizes will be awarded to the top three essay and video winners. Circuit-level winners will receive $3,000 for first place, $1,700 for second place, and $1,000 for third place along with a commemorative prize. If the winners of the video portion of the competition are part of a team, then they will split the total cash prize.

Winners will be announced on the civics contest website in June. (Saipan Tribune)

Saipan Tribune
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