U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) launched his second annual State of the Union essay contest to engage Vermont’s high school students on the major issues facing the country.
“I hope this essay contest will provide an opportunity for Vermont’s students to explore current issues in depth and help develop their critical thinking about some of the problems we face as a nation,” Sanders said.
Last year, more than 225 Vermont students from 20 different schools wrote about issues such as the declining middle class, climate change and health care reform in Sanders’ State of the Union essay contest.
The contest asks Vermont’s high school students to write an essay of 250 words to 500 words about their view of the “state of the union” while the president prepares his State of the Union speech for delivery in late January to a joint session of Congress.
The U.S. Constitution calls for the president to “give to the Congress information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Sanders’ essay contest asks Vermont high school students: If you were president, what would you present to Congress in your State of the Union address?
A panel of Vermont high school teachers will judge the essays. The winning and finalist essays will be entered into the Congressional Record and posted on the senator’s website. The winner will also have the opportunity to have Sanders visit his or her school to hold a student town meeting to discuss the state of the union and what can be done to address major problems the country faces.
“We need our young people to be engaged. We need their passion and their ideas to help solve the problems that confront us. That’s what democracy is all about,” Sanders said.
“This was a great way to get kids to think outside of their ‘teenage bubbles’ as I call them—to look at their families, their communities and beyond and really think about the problems facing our country,” Jennie Gartner, a social studies teacher at Rutland High School, said after serving as one of the four judges who reviewed essays for the senator’s first essay contest.
The deadline for student essays submissions is Friday, Jan. 6, 2012. Essays should be e-mailed to email@example.com. More information is available by visiting: www.sanders.senate.gov/stateoftheunion/