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Judicial Branch, State of New Hampshire

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Statewide winners w/ Associate Justice James E. Duggan

Constitution Day Winners announced

CONCORD _ A sixth-grade Nashua parochial school student and a ConVal High School senior have been chosen as winners of this year's New Hampshire Constitution Day Essay Contest.

Katie Mahoney of the Infant Jesus School and Charlotte Fressilli were honored at a reception Nov. 3 at the New Hampshire Supreme Court, along with 10 statewide finalists sponsored by seven newspapers.

In 2004, Congress declared that "Constitution Day" should be observed in schools each year on Sept. 17 with programs about the history of the Constitution. The New Hampshire contest, for middle and high school students, is held annually as part of the Constitution Day observance. The newspapers participating in the project are: the Concord Monitor; the New Hampshire Union Leader; the Portsmouth Herald (Seacoast Media Group); The Caledonian-Record; The Eagle-Tribune; The Keene Sentinel and The Telegraph.

This year, students were asked to consider how the First Amendment right of free speech affects students while in a school building. The essay topic was: "In your opinion, when should a school be allowed to ban t-shirts that have certain kinds of messages and pictures on them?"

Katie Mahoney of Nashua, in an essay submitted to the Telegraph, acknowledged that some students believe banning certain clothing takes away their freedom. She wrote that she does not agree, especially if the clothing is inappropriate or disrespectful.

"Students have to know that with freedom comes responsibility," the sixth-grader wrote. "If children want to protest something, they can do it in a non-harmful way that doesn't hurt anyone's feelings and still gets their message out."

In her essay, sent to the Keene Sentinel, Charlotte Frisselli of Temple wrote that because schools must ensure that every student feels safe and because students cannot simply leave school, administrators should have the right to regulate messages displayed on clothing if they feel the messages will make other students uncomfortable or unsafe.

"In a public place, one person has the right to wear a disturbing image on their clothing, just as the people around him/her have the right to remove themselves from that person," she wrote. "If you're in a Walmart and someone is wearing something that makes you uncomfortable, get what you need and move to the next aisle."

Students who participated in the contest submitted entries to the seven participating newspapers, who chose middle school and high school finalists. Supreme Court Associate Justice James E. Duggan, who has worked with participating newspapers on the project since it was launched in 2006, selects the statewide winners from the finalists.

In addition to the reception at the Supreme Court in Concord, the statewide winners also are recognized at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications First Amendment Awards event. The school coordinates the contest.

Here are this year's finalists and their newspaper sponsors:

Concord Monitor:
Middle School: David Udelson. Bow Memorial School. Grade 8.
High School: Isaac Chassman. Bow High School. Grade 11.

New Hampshire Union Leader:
Middle School: Olivia Lariviere. Hampstead Middle School. Grade 8
High School: Rachel E. Pantazis. Manchester Memorial High School. Grade 12

Portsmouth Herald:
Middle School: No Submissions
High School: Katie Zimmerman. Exeter High School. Grade 12.

The Caledonian-Record
Middle School: Alexandra Lynch. Stevens School of Peacham, Vt. Grade 8
High School: Joe Desjardins. Lin-Wood Public School. Grade 12

The Eagle-Tribune
Middle School: Ally Couture. Hampstead Middle School. Grade 8
High School: No Submissions

The Keene Sentinel:
Middle School: Kassidy Perkins. Keene Middle School. Grade 8
High School: Charlotte Fressilli. Contoocook Valley High School. Grade 12

The Telegraph:
Middle School: Katie Mahoney. Infant Jesus School. Grade 6
High School: Daniel Thompson. Milford High School. Grade 12


For Further information contact David Tirrell-Wysocki, Executive Director of Loeb School of Communications: dtwysocki@loebschool.org.

or Laura Kiernan, NH Judicial Branch Communications Director: lkiernan@courts.state.nh.us 603-271-2646 ext 2359