Sacred Heart: Local writers excel in state contest

Greenwich students were among the top winners at this year’s  Connecticut Foundation for Open Government (CFOG) high school essay contest.

CFOG, a nonprofit educational organization, sponsors the essay contest each year to encourage thought and debate among students on public and freedom of information issues and to increase student knowledge of the value of open government in a democratic society.

A second prize of $500 was won by Nicola Traynor, a junior at Greenwich High School, who wrote about the Newtown shootings and the availability of violent video games to minors.

“While a law cannot be made to censure video games any more than one can be made to censure movies, video games should be regulated through an enforced rating system in the same way as movies,” Nicola wrote. “Despite adverse risks, free speech must be preserved in the entertainment industry.”

Honorable mention awards of $50 also went to Nicholas Abbott and Shira Rieke of Greenwich High School.

Students were asked to write essays on one of three topics: The December 2012 shootings in Newtown brought new demands that minors be banned from buying or renting violent video games. Should these games have the same First Amendment protection given to literature, journalism and political speech?; The First Amendment gives the greatest protection to political speech, but should there be limitations in the case of outright lying to the public by candidates and political action committees? Should the identities of donors to all political groups be made public?; and An East Haddam student got in trouble with school administrators for advocating breast cancer awareness by wearing an “I (heart) Boobies” bracelet. A Wolcott High student was told to remove an anti-gay T-shirt that he wore on a school day dedicated to anti-bullying efforts. Should there be limits on student speech on school grounds?

Judges for the contest were Janet Manko, George Krimsky, Martin Margulies, Lyn Hottes, Forrest Palmer and Mary Connolly.

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