Richard Baleares of Saipan Southern High School on Saipan has been named a finalist in the national 2020 Ninth Circuit Civics Contest for high school students.
Baleares, who was named the winner of the local leg of the contest sponsored by the U.S. District Court for the District of the Northern Mariana Islands, joined nearly 1,000 young people who entered the contest for high school students in the western United States, Guam and the CNMI. The contest was composed of an essay writing competition and a video competition. Baleares won the video contest.
In Guam, the finalists are the winners of the contest sponsored by the U.S. District Court for the District of Guam, which offered prizes of $150, $100 and $50 for the top three finishers in both the essay and video competitions.
The essay winners are: first place, Jenny Mann, of St. Johns School in Tumon; second place, Raemier Javelosa of the Academy of Our Lady of Guam in Hagåtña; and third place, Lian Tsiao, also of the Academy of Our Lady of Guam. The winners of the video competition are: first place, the team of Putra Sani and James Tabunar of George Washington High School in Mangilao; second place, Shawn Gatchell of Guam High School in Hagåtña; and third place, Joseph Vinch, also of Guam High School.
“The Right to Vote: Milestone Anniversaries” was the theme of the contest. Students in grades 9-12 in public, private and parochial schools and home-schooled students of equivalent grade status were challenged to write an essay or produce a short video with the questions: “In the wake of the 15th and 19th Amendments, barriers remained to prevent United States citizens from voting. Do formal or informal barriers remain today? What additional changes would you make, if any, to Americans’ voting rights?”
Fifteen federal courts in the Ninth Circuit held local contests with winners advancing to the final round to compete in the circuit-wide competition. In all, 38 essays and 27 videos were selected to advance to the next round for consideration by judges, attorneys, court executives, law clerks, court and library staff, and the Public Information and Community Outreach Committee, which will announce the winners in late June.
Preliminary judging has been completed in the contest. At the circuit level, prizes of $2,000, $1,000 and $500 will be awarded to first-, second- and third place winners in both the writing and video competition.
“The Ninth Circuit’s longstanding commitment to civics education is showcased in this year’s 2020 contest. Because our circuit is the largest and busiest in the nation, it is gratifying that so many judges, administrators and attorneys gave generously of their time to contribute to the contest. These individuals helped to organize, promote, administer and judge the contest,” said U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino of San Diego, who chairs the PICO Committee. “Students found themselves in the midst of transitioning to remote learning and yet still made the effort to focus on the legal issues posed by the contest. Despite these challenging circumstances, this year’s contest did not disappoint. The quality of essays and videos and the level of participation were excellent. Students examined legal principles, made thoughtful analyses and exhibited insights into our legal system and our constitutional democracy,” Sammartino added.
The Ninth Circuit covers the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, the U.S. territory of Guam and the CNMI. (PR)