FOI Oklahoma’s Essay Contest Offers Cash Prizes for Students

OKLAHOMA CITY – Freedom of Information Oklahoma is offering cash prizes to high school students who enter and win the annual Zach Taylor First Amendment Essay Contest.

Students in grades 9 to 12 must pick one of the freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment and write about its importance to the American way of life. The freedoms are speech, press, religion, assembly and government petition.

First prize is $300, second prize is $200 and third prize is $100. Seven students will receive honorable mentions and will be awarded iTunes gift certificates.

Students are encouraged to do factual research on the topic, and to write creatively and personally rather than write a report.

Deadline for entries is Oct. 24.

Entries should be about 500 words, typed and double spaced. Included should be the student’s name, school, teacher, principal, mailing address and a contact phone number. Also, the student’s personal email address if the student has one.

The prizes will be awarded Nov. 14 at the 2018 First Amendment Congress held at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.

Last year’s winners were Jude Roberson, Edmond Santa Fe High School, first place; Sonia Coffin, Hobart High School, second place, and Michaela Anang, Edmond Santa Fe, third place.

The theme of this year’s conference is, ``Its Up to You,’’ and it will focus on student protest activities ranging from past Oklahoma City sit-ins to today’s March for Life protests and student support of the Oklahoma teacher walk out.

The essay contest is named in honor of Zach Taylor, who served as executive director of the Association of Central Oklahoma Government (ACOB) for nearly 30 years. Taylor, who died in 2008, was a leader in FOI Oklahoma and served on the First Amendment Congress planning committee for more than 10 years.

For more information: Bill Young, Oklahoma Department of Libraries,