Two student essay, slogan, artwork contests seeking submissions

Martin Luther King, Jr. citizenship, Secretary of State citizen participation programs


Kentucky’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission Seeks Citizenship program nominations
The Martin Luther King, Jr. State Commission, part of the Governor’s Office of Minority Empowerment, is seeking nominations for the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Citizenship Award, along with essays and artwork for the esteemed King Award.

The theme for the essays and artwork is “Exploring the ‘King’ in You.” The contest is open to kindergarten to 12th-grade students who can submit an essay or two-dimensional artwork that reflects a student’s most inspired King moment or speech.

The citizenship award is given to an individual who embodies the spirit and energy of the late civil rights leader. The criteria for nominees include persons who have demonstrated leadership and achievement toward the principles of racial equality, interracial harmony, economic justice, participation in Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday observances and dedication to King’s dream.

All winners will be recognized at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Celebration in Frankfort on Jan. 12. For information and guidelines on all awards, please visit Artwork and essays must be submitted by Nov. 30 and citizenship award nominations must be submitted by Dec. 15. All entries must be properly labeled and addressed to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards, 700 Capital Ave., Suite 138, Frankfort, Ky. 40601. 

Secretary of State Citizen Participation Program

Secretary of State Elaine Walker has kicked up a notch the annual essay and slogan contest overseen by her office for students who enter to win in 2012.  Implemented by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1988, the contest is designed to emphasize the importance of citizen participation, the influence of an informed electorate on elections and to offset the wane of civics education being taught at the time in Kentucky schools. 

This year adds new modes of expression for students to use, expands ways technology can be used and increases award money for essay winners.   Besides judges with expertise in each category, the submissions will be up for popular vote via the Secretary of State’s website and YouTube.    

“Young Kentuckians presently in middle or high school have never known a world without the internet and information technology,” Walker said.  “Social media have become standard communication tools for most students--as common as the telephone in generations past.  For nearly 25 years, the contest entries have been standard writing.  For 2012, we are integrating information technology and social media into contest disciplines and we’re asking students to demonstrate their creative thought process as they respond to the prompt,” she said.  New disciplines under the “essay” include essay/blog, video essay, slam poetry/dramatic reading presentation and graphic/art.   

The contest goal remains the same:  to expand civic awareness among students in light of waning voter trends in their demographic, which is about to become eligible to vote in local, state and national elections.  “Voting is an essential element of our democratic society,” Walker said.  “In light of the new modes of expression, we are also adding an opportunity for the public to vote for their favorites via social media.  We’re adding an ‘American Idol’ component so Kentuckians can vote on their favorite.” 

Monetary awards for best in each category for the essay contest are a $3,000 U.S. Savings Bond or $1,500 cash.  The slogan contest has an award for first, second and third place overall.  The first-place winner receives a $1,000 U.S. Savings Bond or $500 cash; second place winner gets a $600 savings bond or $300; and third place gets a $400 savings bond or $200 cash. 

Winners will be notified no later than the end of March 2012 and their work will be posted on the Secretary of State’s website.

The essay contest is for high school students in grades 9 through 12.  Students in grades 6 through 8 may submit entries for the slogan contest.  Rules, judging criteria, deadlines, the prompt and other information about the competition are online at or contact Patrick Keal at 502-564-3490 or  Entries must either be postmarked or electronically submitted by 5 p.m. (EST) on Dec. 1.

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