2015 CFOG Essay Contest Winners

Alexis Tatore, a junior at Greenwich High School, won the $1,000 first-place prize in the 2015 CFOG high school essay contest. She wrote about online threats and whether they are protected free speech or a crime that should be prosecuted.

“Online threats remain a complicated crime,” she wrote, “but they’re far from a victimless crime. With an evolving framework of law, the country needs to extend its framework to the online community. Justice Holmes redefined the limits of the First Amendment with his famous opinion in Schenck v. United States. If one were to take an emotional, vulnerable teen and shoot them down with degrading messages, how is that any different from shouting fire in a crowded theater?”

Each year, students from across Connecticut participate in the contest, which seeks 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.

The second prize of $500 was won by Cole Schmidt, a senior at Waterbury Arts Magnet School, who wrote about the use of police body cameras and whether the public should have access to the videos. The third prize of $300 was won by Bennett Brain of Greenwich High School, who also wrote about police body cameras.

Honorable mention awards went to Sarah Barnaby and Christopher Healy of Greenwich High School, Jack Hislop of Northwestern Regional High School in Winsted and Shravan Wadhwa of Trumbull High School

This year, students were given a choice of three questions to answer. The questions addressed online threats, the use of police body cameras and whether FBI agents posing as reporters undermines the credibility of media organizations with the public.

The questions for the 2016 essay contest will be announced in January.