President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the first Law Day by proclamation in 1958. He proclaimed it "fitting that the people of this Nation should remember with pride and vigilantly guard the great heritage of liberty, justice, and equality under law which our forefathers bequeathed to us." Since then, local bar associations, courts, and other law-related groups throughout the country sponsor events that call attention to the importance of the rule of law and the justice system in American society. Locally, the Kitsap County Bar Association holds an annual event with invited speakers, recognition of those who have given important volunteer service to the community, and an essay contest for local students in grades 7 through 12. Each year the American Bar Association defines a theme for Law Day observances, and the Kitsap group's speeches and essay competitions are tied to that theme. The topic for Law Day 2012 was: No Courts ~ No Justice ~ No Freedom. The American Bar Association Law Day Committee pointed out that "the theme reflects the importance of the courts and their role in ensuring access to justice for all Americans."
Early in April, WSA teacher Eleanor Johnson gave the assignment: write an essay giving an opinion related to this topic, keeping in mind the judging criteria from the competition organizers. "The Kitsap County Bar Association will decide the winning essays based on the following in order of priority: originality of thought, depth of reasoning, clarity of expression, and organization."
Finally, the moment in the program came for the awarding of prizes for the Student Opinion Essay competition. Hailey won 2nd prize for Grades 7 - 9: a medal and $250. Gab won 1st prize for Grades 10 - 12: a medal and $350. Both girls were moved by the words of the presenter: "Reading the essays by these young people gives me hope for the future, that they will carry forward our commitment to a democracy sustained by the rule of law."
Both students enjoyed being part of the Law Day celebration. Hailey noted, "It was really interesting to listen to everyone speak and see other awards being given to people in the law community." And now the big question. Gab says, "As for what I'm going to do with my money. I would like to pretend I'm just ever so responsible and say something like college or what have you. But I'll probably go for concert tickets." Hailey reports she's been saving to buy something "big" for herself, and the $250 will help a lot with that fund!