Secretary of State
Annual Essay/Slogan Contest Includes More Creative Options; Higher High School Level Awards
(FRANKFORT, KY) -- Secretary of State Elaine Walker has kicked the annual essay and slogan contest executed by her office up a notch for students who enter for 2012. Implemented by a law passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1988, the contest is designed to emphasize the importance of citizen participation, the influence of an informed electorate on elections and to offset the wane of civics education instruction at the time in Kentucky schools.
This year marks the addition of new modes of expression for students to use, expands ways technology may be employed and increases award money for essay winners. Besides judges with expertise in each category, the submissions will be up for popular vote via the Secretary of State’s website and YouTube.
“Young Kentuckians presently in middle or high school have never known a world without the internet and information technology,” Walker said. “Social media have become standard communication tools for most students--as common as the telephone in generations past. For nearly 25 years, the contest entries have been standard writing. It’s time we integrate information technology and social media into contest disciplines and we’re asking students to demonstrate their creative thought process as they respond to the prompt,” she said. New disciplines under the “essay” include essay/blog; video essay; slam poetry/dramatic reading presentation; and graphic/art.
The contest goal remains the same: to expand civic awareness among students in light voter trends in their demographic, which is about to become eligible to vote in local, state and national elections. Voter registration for people ages 18 to 24 remains high but numbers going to the polls by percentage is low. “Voting is an essential element of our democratic society,” Walker said. “In light of the new modes of expression, we are also adding an opportunity for the public to vote for their favorites via social media. We’re adding an “American Idol” component so Kentuckians can vote on their favorite and be reminded by the work of winning students, how important it is to vote.”
Winners will be notified no later than the end of March 2012; their work will be posted on the contest web page on the Secretary of State’s website and potentially used to help promote voting and civic involvement by the Secretary of State. “We want our winners to show their peers in particular, but everyone else, too, how essential voting is to maintaining this nation’s democratic way of life,” Walker said.
High school students in grades 9 through 12 are eligible to submit entries for the essay contest. Students in grades 6 through 8 may submit entries for the top three spots for the slogan contest. Rules, judging criteria, deadlines, the prompt and other information about the competition are online at www.sos.ky.gov/contest or contact Matt Daley at 502-564-3490 or Matthew.Daley@ky.gov. Entries must either be postmarked or electronically submitted by 5 p.m. (EST) on January 15th, 2012.
Letters were mailed to school principals and home school contacts about two weeks ago notifying them of the competition and asking that they spread the information.
By law, the Secretary of State’s office raises the funds to support the contest prizes and the Secretary of State’s office manages the administration. This year the contest supporters include Houchens Industries, Inc., KEA Retired, the University of Kentucky Scripps Howard First Amendment Center, U.S. Bank and Turner Construction Co.
Monetary awards for best in each category for the essay contest are a $3,000 U.S. Savings Bond or $1,500 cash. The slogan contest has an award for first, second and third place overall. The first place winner receives a $1,000 U.S. Savings Bond or $500 cash; second place winner gets a $600 savings bond or $300 and third place gets a $400 savings bond or $200 cash.
“Naturally we hope that each winner will put the funds toward furthering their education,” Walker said. “We sure we can depend on them to lead by example as soon as they are old enough to register and vote.”
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