Federal judges and lawyers award $7,000 in prizes

The high school essay contest winners were announced at a ceremony at the Bryan Simpson U.S. Courthouse.

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The judges of the U.S District Court, Middle District of Florida, and members of the Federal Bar Association Jacksonville Chapter announced winners of the 2022 High School Essay Contest Celebrating Constitution Week.

Prizes were presented Dec. 7 at a ceremony at the Bryan Simpson U.S. Courthouse in Jacksonville.

Shaun Zhudro, a student at Flagler-Palm Coast High School, won the $2,000 first prize.

Stanton College Preparatory School student Emma Lee won second place and a $1,000 award.

Third place was a tie: Andrew Diaz from Samuel W. Wolfson School for Advanced Studies and Kaiya West, a student at Trinity Christian Academy, each received $500 prizes.

In addition, each student’s teacher received a $500 classroom grant.

Trinity Christian Academy received a $1,000 school grant for having 34 students submit a qualifying essay, the most among the schools.

Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan and U.S. District Judges Marcia Morales Howard and Brian Davis presided over the ceremony.

“For the last five years, the High School Essay Contest has been and continues to be an important part of the Court’s community outreach. Knowledgeable and informed citizens are crucial to a healthy and functioning democracy. The Court’s community outreach programs strive to educate students and adults alike about the federal judiciary and how it serves to advance the goals and ideals articulated in the United States Constitution and its Preamble,” Howard said in a news release.

The contest attracted 178 entries from six of the 12 counties in the Jacksonville Division of Bradford, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau and Putnam counties, with participants from 23 high schools, Florida Virtual School and one home school student. 

Students submitting essays in the contest were asked to consider how amendments to the Constitution have helped to promote and advance the founding document’s overall goals.

In particular, students were asked to examine the Constitution’s preamble, and then select one of the 27 amendments and explain how that amendment upholds the framers’ goals as articulated in the preamble.