Deadline- January 25, 2019

Amendment I, United States Constitution

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Email essays to and click here to complete entry form. 

The First Amendment’s guarantee of a free press is of crucial importance to all Americans. It is the foundation of American freedom and the essential distinction between our democracy and totalitarianism. Journalists must dedicate themselves to defending our free press, and we call upon the scholastic journalists of Georgia to join the battle. Do so by entering our First Amendment Essay Contest! Essays should focus on the importance of the First Amendment to all Americans, to freedom of speech and particularly, freedom of the press for student publications. Address the following in your essay:

In the First Amendment context, some scholars say it is possible to have a free society in which people have the right to call on the law to defend them against being offended or insulted. Other scholars say that is not possible. What do you think? Make an argument one way or the other. 

Section I: General Rules

  1. The contest is open to all participating Georgia Scholastic Press Association member high school students in grades 9-12.

  2. There is no cost to enter the contest.

  3. Contestants may enter only one essay.

Section II: Contest Rules

  1. Each contestant should read a copy of the rules and must complete the entry form. The rules contain information about the contest, judging and awards.

  2. Each entry must include the contest entry form. The essay must have the name of the entrant, high school and publication listed at the top of each page.

  3. Essays must be typewritten and must be single-spaced.

  4. Essays must contain at least 300 words but no more than 500 words.

  5. Any quotations or copyrighted material used in the essay must be identified properly. Failure to identify non-original material will be considered plagiarism.

  6. Essays must be written in English.

  7. Entries will not be returned.

  8. Entries must be emailed by January 25, 2019, to

Section III: Judging

  1. A panel of qualified judges, including University of Georgia and The Cox Institute faculty and staff, will complete judging.

  2. Judges will not discuss or compare essays being judged until all essays have been judged.

  3. Decision of the judges is final.

Section IV: Scoring of Contest

  1. Scoring procedures at all levels of the contest will be identical.

  2. Essays will be scored based on:

    1. Material organization (logical interpretation of the subject, adherence to topic)

    2. Vocabulary and style (phrasing and continuity)

    3. Grammar, punctuation, spelling, neatness

    4. Adherence to contest rules (prepared in the proper format)

Section V: Awards

  1. 1st Place: $100 for publication staff, $100 and an engraved plaque for student

  2. 2nd Place: $75 for publication staff, $75 for student.

  3. 3rd Place: $50 for publication staff, $50 for student.

Winners will be announced in March and recognized at the GSPA Spring Workshop and Awards on April 9, 2019 at the University of Georgia Georgia Center for Continuing Education and Hotel. 

Email essays to and click here to complete entry form.