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Constitution Day Essay Contest
September 17, 2015

In 2004, the Congress decided that "Constitution Day" should be observed in schools each year on September 17 with educational programs about the history and signing of the Constitution. To help celebrate Constitution Day, seven newspapers and the New Hampshire Supreme Court have sponsored an annual "Constitution Day Essay Contest" for grades 5-12 on a topic related to our constitutional rights as citizens.

Teachers and students take note! Here's a fun way to discuss and debate some difficult questions and learn a few things about the remarkable document that has governed our nation for 226 years.

Winning essays will be published in the participating newspapers and winners will be invited, along with parents and teachers, to a special reception at the state Supreme Court and to the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications First Amendment Awards.

Read 2014's winning essays » See photos of the event »

2014 Constitution Day Essay Contest

Bullying always has been an unpleasant and harmful part of growing up. Combining bullying with the pervasive presence of social media – cyberbullying -- allows taunts, insults and harassment that once circulated around the school yard to circulate around the world, 24 hours a day, and stay alive indefinitely. The documented growth of cyberbullying has prompted much discussion about its causes, its effects, who should be responsible for curbing it and what consequences cyberbullies should face.

Considering the significance of our constitutional right to free speech, please discuss whether punishment or other consequences should be imposed on someone who conveys hurtful comments about another person via social media or cellphone texting (cyberbullying), what those ramifications might be, and who should impose them.

Some things to think about:

In view of the potential impact of hurtful comments conveyed through social media and texting, should our First Amendment rights become more limited? How?

What is a school’s role in both protecting free speech and protecting students from cyberbullying?

What responsibility, if any, do students have to take action when they witness cyberbullying?

Is it still true that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”?   

Research materials:

US Constitution:



Essay Contest Rules

Open to students in grades 5-12 in New Hampshire or served by participating papers in Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont.

• Essay must be 350-500 words. Submissions will be judged on
understanding of the issue, clear writing and thinking, presentation, grammar and spelling.

• Guidance from teachers and parents is encouraged, but the contest is designed as a student exercise, and, as such, essays are expected to be the student’s original work.

• Essay entry form must include the following information:
Student's name, school, grade, home address, email address and phone
number. Teacher’s name, email address and phone number.

• Submit essay to one of the participating newspapers. The student must live in that newspaper’s circulation area.

• Students may submit one essay only. Duplicate entries will be disallowed.

• Essays must be emailed or postmarked by Oct. 6, 2014.

• Each newspaper will select up to two local winners from grades 5-8
and up to two local winners from grades 9-12. These local winners become statewide finalists.

• From these finalists, the state Supreme Court will select one statewide winner in each category.

• Participating newspapers will publish their local winners’ essays.

• All statewide finalists, along with their families and teachers, will be
invited to a reception at the state Supreme Court. The two statewide winners also will be invited to the annual First Amendment Awards presented by the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.


2014 Participating Newspapers:


Concord Monitor
David Sangiorgio
Circulation Director
P.O. Box 1177
Concord, NH 03302-1177
(603) 224-5301
New Hampshire Union Leader
Shannon Sullivan
Community Relations Manager
Box 9555
Manchester, NH 03108
(603) 206-7833
Derry News
The Eagle-Tribune

Steve Baskin
Assistant Circulation Director
100 Turnpike Street
North Andover, MA 01845
(978) 946-2302
Portsmouth Herald
Howard Altschiller
Executive Editor
111 New Hampshire Ave.
Portsmouth, NH 03801
(603) 570-2202
The Keene Sentinel
Paul. R. Miller
Executive Editor
Box 546
Keene, NH 03431
(603) 352-1234
The Telegraph
Phil Kincade
Executive Managing Editor
17 Executive Drive
Hudson, NH 03051
(603) 882-2741
  Foster's Daily Democrat 
Rod Doherty
Executive Editor
150 Venture Drive
Dover, NH 03820
(603) 742-4455

Web Resources

Learn all about the Constitution from a website created by retired US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Conner:

Text of the US Constitution

NH Department of Education

Constitution Day resources, programs and lesson plans for teachers

NHPTV Knowledge Network

Visit for links to online classroom video on the U.S. Constitution, lesson plans, and reviewed websites. 

Information from The Bill of Rights Institute

New Hampshire Bar Association

Find more online resources about the U.S. Constitution

 Information from the National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, PA

 Education Resources for use on Constitution Day

Guide to the Constitution and "civic education in the real world."

Information on the US Constitution provided by the federal court system

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