Athens, Ga. – Three high school students were selected from a record 123 entrants as winners in the annual First Amendment Essay Contest, sponsored by the University of Georgia’s Georgia Scholastic Press Association, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Cox Institute for Newspaper Management Studies.
“We are delighted that a record 123 young Georgians submitted entries in this important contest,” said Conrad Fink, director of the Cox Institute and Grady College professor of journalism. “Choosing a winner was very difficult. I compliment all students on submitted entries and their school advisers and teachers.”
Brittany Pittman, a junior from East Coweta High in Sharpsburg won first place in the contest. She will be awarded a $100 cash prize and $100 to her school newspaper, Smoke Signals. Finishing in second place was Daniel Nathan McGee, a senior from Lowndes High School in Valdosta. McGee will receive $75 and an additional $75 for the school newspaper, The Saga. Sophomore Egan Marie Connor Short from Decatur High School won third place. She will receive $50 along with $50 for the school’s newsmagazine, Carpe Diem.
Pittman’s essay traced the 200-year history of the First Amendment and its place in high schools today. “High school and college newspapers have become increasingly popular in today’s society. These publications … may be the only news media to which apathetic students are exposed,” Pittman wrote.
McGee’s essay emphasized that “the First Amendment only restricts any of the [five] rights from being abridged rather than making the freedoms without limitation.” He then discussed some of the boundaries placed on the five freedoms historically.
Short’s piece underscored the need for youth to take advantage of the First Amendment’s freedom of expression and to get involved in the press. She wrote, “The children of America must take pen to paper and reach out with their fresh knowledge; they must sing with the voice of youth amidst the chorus of American expression.”
The winners of the third annual contest will be recognized at the GSPA Awards Ceremony held at the University of Georgia on April 27.
Organized in 1928 by the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Georgia Scholastic Press Association assists Georgia high school media programs and students by encouraging the production of quality publications and broadcast programs through instruction and contests. There were 142 GSPA member publications for the 2005-06 school year, representing some 3,000 students across the state.
The Cox Institute for Newspaper Management Studies provides and supports training to prepare students and professionals for management positions and sponsors applied research that addresses contemporary issues confronting the newspaper industry.
The Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication is home to both GSPA and the Cox Institute. It provides seven undergraduate majors including advertising, broadcast news, magazines, newspapers, public relations, publication management and telecommunication arts. The college offers two graduate degrees and is home to the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, one of the premier programs in broadcasting. For more information, see www.grady.uga.edu.