ACLU of Arizona Announces Mesa, Tucson Winners of School Essay Contest

Affiliate: ACLU of Arizona
February 3, 2010 12:00 am

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PHOENIX – The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona today announced the winners of a high school essay contest about the Constitution and the meaning of the First Amendment.

The contest, which was sponsored by the Southern and University of Arizona Law College chapters of the ACLU of Arizona, asked students in grades 9 through 12 to write essays about “What the First Amendment means to you.” It was developed as a way to encourage students to think about the importance of advancing and protecting civil liberties.

“The Bill of Rights guarantees that the government can never deprive people of their fundamental rights, and it doesn’t just apply to adults; it applies to young people too,” said Mary-Carol Wagner, Chair of the ACLU of Arizona Southern Chapter. “We wanted to encourage students to think and write about how the Constitution affects their daily lives.”

The winners are: Rachel Ellsworth, senior at Mesa High School, First Place $500 prize; Laura Maillard, senior at Tanque Verde High School, Second Place $250 prize; and John Nussmeier, also a senior at Tanque Verde High School, third place $100 prize.

The three high school students will be presented with cash prizes and awards at the For Love of the Constitution event at 1:30 PM on February 6, 2010 at the home of Corny & Joanne Steelink. For more information about the event or to RSVP, please call Essie Ramirez at (520) 908-0416 or email

“The First Amendment impacts nearly every other freedom. That’s precisely why we wanted students to share their own thoughts about whether they think it goes too far or not far enough,” added Audrey C. Stirnitzke, president of the ACLU of Arizona University of Arizona Law College Chapter.

Excerpts from the first place essay will be printed in the ACLU of Arizona’s spring newsletter, which will be published next month.

Founded in 1959, the ACLU of Arizona is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization dedicated to preserving Constitutional freedoms and the Bill of Rights. With approximately 6,500 members and supporters statewide, the ACLU of Arizona is an affiliate of the national ACLU, which boasts a membership of 550,000. The Southern Chapter is one of two volunteer-run chapters of the ACLU of Arizona.

The ACLU is funded entirely with private donations, foundation grants, court-awarded legal fees and membership dues, and does not receive any government funding. For more information on the ACLU of Arizona, visit

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