Ethan Edholm, a senior at Housatonic Regional Valley High School, has won the first prize of $1,000 in this year’s Connecticut Foundation for Open Government (CFOG) high school essay contest. His essay citing the need for honesty on the part of candidates in discussing the important election issues in the upcoming presidential election was deemed by CFOG judges as the best of the 115 entries submitted from students across the state in this year’s contest.
A second prize of $500 was awarded to Chelsea Soby, a student at West Haven High School, who wrote that student’s speech must be protected but there has to be a balance between protecting free speech and maintaining safety. The third place prize of $300 went to Kevin McKenna, a student at Housatonic Regional Valley High School. His essay cited global warming as the most important issue in the upcoming presidential election.
CFOG sponsors the essay contest to encourage thought and debate among students on public and freedom of information issues and to increase student knowledge of the value of open government in a democratic society. Students were asked to write essays on one of three topics. The topics were:
1. Do you believe students should be penalized at school for comments made on the Internet at home about school issues or personnel?
2. What do you think is the most important issue in the 2008 Presidential campaign and why?
3. Should information about who holds a gun permit be available to the public and why?
Honorable mention awards of $50 went to Carmel Sara Lynn of East Lyme High School; Nancy Laser of West Haven High School; Stephanie Kearns of Housatonic Valley Regional High School; Faraz Sabir of West Haven High School; Antoine Gary of Holy Cross High School and Sara Williams of Housatonic Valley Regional High.
Judges for the contest, all CFOG Board of Director members were: Janet Manko, publisher of the Lakeville Journal; Robert Estabrook, author, retired publisher and former foreign correspondent; George Krimsky, Waterbury Republican-American columnist and former Associated Press foreign correspondent; State Sen. Andrew W. Roraback and Colleen Murphy, executive director of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission. Forrest Palmer, a retired newspaper publisher who also served as a judge, was chairman of the CFOG essay contest committee. For further information on CFOG, and to read the winning essays, go to ctfog.org.