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HomeUncategorized2020 High School Independence Day Essay Contest Winners

2020 High School Independence Day Essay Contest Winners

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High School Winner; Score: 62
Bailey Stradley
Grade 9
Calvary Christian High School

1850 portrait of George Washington by Artist Rembrandt Peale


George Washington once said, “It is far better to be alone than to be in bad company.” Washington asserts that the people we spend our time with greatly influence us. We often become more like those who we call company. If we hang around bad people, we are likely to start acting like a bad person as well. If we stand apart from those people, however, we can be stronger, more independent without the worry of a negative change. 

Teenagers face this challenge almost daily. Negative company can be a negative influence on us.  It can bring a model student to cheat or skip school, cause good children to disobey their parents, or make a usually cautious person act careless and reckless. Peer influence is defined as the “ability to influence individual behavior among members of a group based on group norms, a group sense of what is the right thing or right way to do things, and the need to be valued and accepted by the group” (The-Definition). If all of one’s friends are participating in something that the person wouldn’t normally take part in, the peer influence may cause a spiral downward. Consider examples in the world today. Many teens will begin to do drugs and smoke because their friends pressure them into it. While some may know the behavior isn’t wise, they fall to the pressure. Social media is the same way. Although our first president did not have any such means of communication, young people today find it easier to entice other friends to “bully” someone through texts, messages, or vicious posts.  

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Standing up for something, even if it means doing so alone, is much better than following what everyone does. Standing alone teaches important characteristics such as leadership and independence. Starting new trends or staying true to oneself are qualities that future employers and colleges seek in teenagers. The only way to gain these attributes is to think for oneself and declare independence from the mass media displayed all around.  

Washington affirms that if the people around us are bad company, it is better to be alone in one’s thinking. When given the choice between hanging out with bad people and standing with one’s own beliefs, the latter is the better option. The people around us shape who we are as a person, so we need to choose those people carefully. George Washington knew this fact back in the 18th century, and it still applies today.

Writing Style/ Structure: 
Content/Ideas: 30

High School Runner Up; Score: 61
Jordan Stradley
Grade 11 
Nature Coast Technical High School

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Artist Rembrandt Peale, Dated 1800.

A single line of Thomas Jefferson’s embodies the entire ideology of the American Dream, a concept that has held steady for centuries now. He said, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” In America, renown around the world as the freest, greatest nation, all one needs is the will to work. America 2020 is a beautiful place to be, an extraordinary time to live.

Everybody has the same righteous opportunities to make it in America, and that is all that is needed. Any singular struggle, like poverty or discrimination, can be overcome with the fight of the American spirit. The Dreamers, a title given to a number of immigrants, have fought long and hard for their stance in the US; they made it. Women, who, at a time, battled rampant sexism, have earned their way into highly respected careers and legal positions of power; they made it. The black community, once oppressed, now free, too stands in every position any other race may hold; they made it. The LGBTQ+ Community has fought long and hard for their rights; they made it. America is home to fighters and winners. God’s country is blessed, emboldened, and beautiful. 

President after president has bore the hardships of the country, but they each have pressed on diligently and fervently. America stands with might today because of them. The working class of America gives its all to the drive of capitalism, the economy of the weary but proud. The US military sacrifices its everything, ‘the blood of patriots spilling to water the tree of liberty (Thomas Jefferson).’  The police force fights domestic enemies on American soil to ensure freedom is preserved at home. In light of the Coronavirus, the greatest endurance to be observed and appreciated is that of the frontline healthcare workers. The doctors and nurses of America have worked tirelessly to protect and save her people from the insidious disease sweeping the world. America’s legacy is that of being the most fortunate, free, and determined nation in the world; it is because of every working component within that this blessing is so. In the USA, prosperity is borne of grit and perseverance. 

The sacrifices made by everyday Americans pave the road of liberty for generations to come. Thomas Jefferson acknowledged the payoff of pursuit, and today’s Americans ought to, too. The only way to ensure freedom’s and the righteous American Dream’s continuation is by earning today and fighting for tomorrow. 

Writing Style/ Structure: 
Content/Ideas: 31

High School Runner Up; Score: 61
by Lilah Stark, Grade 10
Home School

George Washington once said, “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” This quote is one of my favorite quotes because freedom of speech, in my opinion, is one of the most important of our basic freedoms. Without freedom of speech, we Americans would be unable to express our thoughts, opinions, and beliefs as we choose. If we were unable to speak our minds the government would become more powerful and controlling. 

Assuming that the founding fathers never gave us the freedom of speech you would not be able to say anything against political leaders, practice certain religions, and you could be imprisoned for saying something bad about the wrong person. Also, to have freedom of religion, press, assembly, and petition I believe you have to have freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is the building block to all of our other freedoms. If you can not freely speak you can not freely write and if you can not speak you can not assemble and if you can not assemble you can not petition. 

Today our freedom of speech is slowly being taken away. You can barely say anything without it being called a racist or white supremacist. People are defacing and destroying the founding father’s statues because they were white or they did not quite have the same ideals as some people do today.

How does that not make the people pulling down the statues racist? Hundreds of thousands of Americans sacrificed their lives during the Revolutionary War so that future generations could be able to live freely without worrying about religious persecution and being ruled unfairly by a cruel government. 

But the main reason there are so many people pulling down historical figures is because they have not been taught history. They have been taught a simplified version of history where everyone is either good or bad and where people do not have character flaws. No one is perfect. We are all human and sometimes we slip up. That is why those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it and as Thomas Jefferson wrote To Uriah Forrest, “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

As citizens of the United States of America, we are so lucky to be able to have the freedoms we do. In Cuba, North Korea, Somalia, Chad, Uzbekistan, and many other countries they have very little to no rights. For example, in North Korea, if you upset Kim Jong-un he will send someone to kill you. Recently in China, there was a doctor who was trying to raise alarm over COVID-19 despite the Chinese government’s warnings. A few days later he disappeared. 

We will never understand the sacrifice our ancestors made so that we could be free, but the least we can do is protect our rights for future generations. Our children and grandchildren have the right to experience the “American Dream” the same way we have and the biggest part of that is freedom of speech.

Writing Style/ Structure: 
Content/Ideas: 31

Read the Elementary and Middle School winning essays here:


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