Essay Contest



The Connecticut Bar Foundation is pleased to announce the Seventeenth Annual James W. Cooper Fellows Quintin Johnstone Essay Contest.  The 2016-2017 topic is “Taking a Knee or Taking a Stand”.  Like past years’ topics, this year’s topic was chosen for its special relevance to students of high school age.  We believe that participating students will find the topic pertinent and interesting.   


“Taking a Knee or Taking a Stand” deals with school discipline in a case involving a high school athlete’s refusal to stand for the national anthem and a fellow student’s reaction to his protest. We are asking students to assume the role of the lawyer for the School Board, who has been tasked with preparing a memorandum with a recommendation on what is or is not an acceptable form of protest by these two students.  Contest entrants are to write a paper, not to exceed 1000 words, taking a position on this issue.


The contest winner will receive $2,000 and the two runners-up will receive $1,000.  The winning students, school contest coordinators, and principals will receive award plaques which will be presented at a ceremony presided over by Connecticut Supreme Court Justices at the Connecticut Supreme Court.


The contest is open to high school students, vocational-technical school students, students enrolled in a high school diploma credit program under the age of 21, and high school age home-schooled students.


We invite all interested students to submit entries through their school’s teachers or guidance counselors, or, in the case of home-schoolers, through their parent/guardian.  See Contest Rules.


Entries from each school/home-schooler must be submitted to the Connecticut Bar Foundation in Hartford, postmarked no later than February 24, 2017.


The following materials are provided on this site at the links highlighted below: 


•     Essay Topic - The essay topic is “Taking a Stand or Taking a Knee”


•     Contest Rules - A copy of these rules should be given to each student who will be participating in the contest. 


•     Judging Criteria and Procedures - This sets forth the criteria that will be used to evaluate the entries submitted to the Foundation.


•     Submittal Form - This form should be completed by the teacher(s)/counselor(s) from each school and must accompany the entry packet.


•     Home-School Submittal Form - This form should be completed by the home-schooler’s parent/guardian and must accompany the entry packet.


•     Student Entry and Release Form - The Student Entry and Release Form must be submitted with each student’s entry packet. 


•     Home-School Student Entry and Release Form - The Home-School Student Entry and Release Form must be submitted with the home-schooler’s entry packet. 


•     Parent or Guardian Release Form - If the student is under 18 years of age, this form must be signed by the parent or legal guardian of the student-writer of the entry and submitted with the entry packet. 


If you have any questions, please contact the Connecticut Bar Foundation at 860-722-2494 or ctbf [at] cbf-1 [dot] org.


We hope that you will agree that this contest provides students with an exciting opportunity to earn monetary prizes while advancing their understanding of the role of law in the world around them.  We look forward to receiving your entry, postmarked no later than February 24, 2017.


Connecticut Bar Foundation James W. Cooper Fellows can sign up to judge the 2016-2017 contest by filling out the linked form and returning it to ctbf [at] cbf-1 [dot] org.