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April 8, 2009 > Fremont student winner in national essay contest

Fremont student winner in national essay contest

Submitted By Sonia Blumstein

As a participant in the Pacific region, Ashwin Aravind was awarded second place and $2,500 in a national essay contest that drew more than 31,000 entries.

Aravind's Irvington High School teacher, Cheryl Cook-Kallio, received a matching cash prize in the Being an American Essay Contest sponsored by the Bill of Rights Institute, a nonprofit educational organization based near Washington, D.C.

In addition to the cash prizes, they also won all-expense paid trips to the nation's capital, where they were honored March 31 at an awards gala featuring a keynote address by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

The D.C. trip included a reception with federal legislators, visits to the National Archives, Supreme Court, and with Pro Football Hall of Fame Cornerback Darrell Green, who served as Chair of President George W. Bush's Council on Service and Civic Participation.

"At a time when many Americans are focusing on our differences, more than 31,000 students demonstrated that we can unite behind the Constitution and the principles we share as Americans," said Institute President Victoria Hughes. "Having so many young people join in this important discussion about the Founding of America and the meaning of American citizenship should reaffirm our faith in the Founders' vision and give us reason to be optimistic about the future."

To participate, students were asked to share their thoughts on American citizenship by answering the question, "What civic value do you believe is most essential to being an American?"

In his winning essay, Aravind, who selected "rule of law" as the topic of his essay and thought George Washington most embodied the American character, wrote, "Through my voice, I can adhere to American rule of law by utilizing my 'citizen's check' upon the government to keep it focused upon American interests."

"We are proud to honor these student essayists and their teachers, who work tirelessly in the classroom to provide the students with a greater understanding and appreciation for the rights and responsibilities of American citizenship," Hughes said.

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