(Press Release) — The 2021 Ninth Circuit Civics Contest theme is “What Does Our American Community Ask of Us?”

Students in grades 9-12 from the Western United States, the U.S. Territory of Guam, and the Commonwealth Northern Mariana Islands were invited to submit creative and thoughtful videos and/or essays capturing this theme.

This year, students were specifically asked: “How should we as a society strike the appropriate balance within the framework of our Constitution between safeguarding our rights and fulfilling our responsibilities to each other?” The questions come at a time in which society is now trying to navigate the transition to some semblance of normalcy on the heels of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

For their video submissions, students produced a single 3 to 5 minute video conveying their understanding of what it means to balance individual rights with collective responsibility. The videos were judged based on the students’ understanding of the theme, their originality and creativity in a manner connected to the theme, how engaging the video was on an emotional and/or subjective level in a manner connected to the theme, production value, and respect of copyright. In the CNMI, five videos were submitted, and the winners selected by the District Court are:

• First Place ($100): Brandee Hunter, Connie Zhu and Katherine Avendaño-Woodruff (Mount Carmel School);

• Second Place ($75): Vivien Liu, Janalene Imperial, and Jigger Parayaoan (Marianas High School); and

• Third Place ($50): Skyler Poon, John San Nicolas, and Seungwoo Lee (Mount Carmel School).

Twenty-three essays ranging between 500 to 1,000 words in length were submitted. These essays were judged based on the students’ understanding of constitutional principles, clarity and effectiveness in expressing the theme, grammar, spelling, and composition, and use of footnotes and bibliographies properly attributing information taken from other sources. This year’s winners are:

• First Place ($100): Katherine Avendaño-Woodruff (Mount Carmel School);

• Second Place ($75): Richard Steele (Mount Carmel School); and

• Third Place ($50): Vivien Liu (Marianas High School).

The first place video and essay will be submitted to the Ninth Circuit, which will then compete with the first-place winners in other districts for a cash price of $3,000 (first place), $1,700 (second place), or $1,000 (third place).

The District Court held a ceremony on June 1, 2021 in the Third Floor Courtroom for the participants. Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona and Magistrate Judge Heather L. Kennedy were present to congratulate the students. In reviewing the various submissions, Chief Judge Manglona commented, “We were pleasantly surprised to receive more entries this year in both categories than last year. We thank the parents and teachers that encouraged and assisted the students in their work. Based on their submissions, I believe the participants have a good understanding and appreciation of our Constitutional principles and the responsibilities we all have to secure our general welfare.” 

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