- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2006

High school students in Virginia are part of a pilot program this year in three states aimed at educating teenagers about the responsibilities of being an American.

As part of the program — also being held in Texas and Kansas — the Arlington-based Bill of Rights Institute has announced an essay contest that asks students to describe the civic values that are essential to being an American and how best to practice those values.

The contest will expand to all 50 states by the 2009-10 school year.

“The United States is said to be the only nation founded not on the ethnicity of its citizens, but on their shared commitment to certain ideas and values,” said Victoria Hughes, president of the institute. “Our essay contest will help teachers engage students in conversations about civic values shared by all Americans.”

The institute is asking students to base essays on their research of America’s founding documents, such as the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as well as the civic values exemplified by the country’s Founding Fathers.

The essays will be judged by high school teachers in each of the participating states, and winners will be announced on May 1. The winning student will receive $5,000.

More information about the contest is available at www.BeingAnAmerican.org.

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