Principals' Memo #1014-10

Department of Education

August 17, 2010

TO: Principals

FROM: Linda M. Wallinger, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction

SUBJECT: America’s First Freedom Competition for Secondary Students

The First Freedom Center is offering an opportunity for students in grades 9 through 12 to compete in America’s First Freedom Student Competition, and has added a second category–that of video–to its annual essay competition.  The 2010-2011 national essay and video contest will offer students an opportunity to compete for $2,500 awards as they examine the First Amendment and the history and implementation of religious freedom and freedom of conscience in American democracy.

This year, students will select a religion or belief group from their local community, state or region that was or is a minority group.  They will research and analyze its history as it encounters issues of religious freedom and equality, and then, by written essay or video production, present their evaluation of how this group’s local history compares to the broader narrative of U.S. history and First Amendment law.   For the complete topic, written essay and video guidelines, registration, classroom poster, student flyer and other details, visit, and then click on the red First Freedom Student Competition button (center column). 

Student online registration is required on or before Monday, November 15, 2010, and the postmark entry deadline for mailing the entry with its accompanying entry materials is Saturday, November 27, 2010. 

For contest information, contact Isabelle Kinnard Richman, vice president for education or Sandra M. Poulsen, outreach programs coordinator at the First Freedom Center, by e-mail at or by telephone at (804) 643-1786.  For other information, contact Dr. Beverly Thurston, coordinator for history and social science, Office of Standards, Curriculum, and Instruction, by e-mail at or by telephone at (804) 225-2893.