Tekieel Powell, left, Stephanie Morales, center, and Megan Forby of Rhodes Magnet School won first place for performing arts in the U.S. Constitution contest.

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Democracy in Evanston took a break from politics on Jan. 9 and went straight to the people. Dozens of projects visually depicting the complexities of any one of the first ten amendments to the Constitution were on display at the Joseph Hill Education Center, 1500 McDaniel Ave. Performance-art pieces and essays on a selected amendment rounded out the entries in the third annual “Your Rights, Your Reasons” contest sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Evanston and administered through the social studies department of School District 65, coordinated by Jamilla Pitts. The contest was open to all seventh-graders in the District; LWVE members, elected officials and community volunteers served as judges. First Bank & Trust of Evanston provided savings bonds to the winners, said Karen Hunt, president of LWVE.

Tasha Ransom of Fox News, who emceed the awards ceremony, said there are about 700 seventh-graders in District 65, and about 500 students submitted entries. About 300 of the entries were essays, said Michelle Jordan, LWVE member and board member of the League of Women Voters of Illinois.

This year, District 65 teachers posed the question:  “Members of the U.S. Supreme Court make decisions that require interpreting the United States Constitution. For example, citizens have the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, but they are not allowed to use that freedom to create a panic in an enclosed space. Which amendment do you think presents the greatest challenge in balancing the rights of competing interests?”

Dr. Hardy Murphy, superintendent of District 65, said, “I believe that effectively participating in democracy – there is no greater purpose in public education. … This contest is as important anything we do in our public school system.”

The winners and their schools are as follows:

Written Word

First place: Peter Regan, Chute Middle School; second place: Jake Girard, Nichols Middle School; third place: Hope Carmel, Chute; honorable mention: Madeline Behr, Nichols; Isabel Bergman, Nichols; Katie Biggs, King Lab Magnet School; Joe Bricker, Haven Middle School; Gracie Flowers, Chute; Conrad Gordon, Chute; Gustina Giordano, Nichols; Emma Maxwell, Nichols; Caroline McCance, Chute; George Siebold, Nichols; Ernesto Molotla, Chute; Kyle Murray, Nichols; and Angelina Schenck, King Lab.

Performing Arts

First place: Stephanie Morale, Megan Forby and Tekieel Powell, Bessie Rhodes Magnet School; second place: Brandon Ruffin, Benjamin Pepper and James Marshall Davis, Bessie Rhodes; third place: Hannah Kaplan, Nichols;  honorable mention: Payton Gibson, Rhodes; Peggy Giordano, Nichols; Marlvin Hill, Nichols; Alyssa Nichols, Rhodes; Cece Pigozzi, Nichols; Bella Thoren, Nichols; Quinton Vastag, Nichols; Madeline White, Rhodes; and Chijioke Williams, Nichols.

Visual Arts

First place: Helen Gratch, Nichols; second place: Esther Isaac, Haven; third place: Naomi Fireman, Nichols; Fidak Khan, Rhodes; and Ajah Miller, Rhodes; honorable mention: Benedict Brady, Nichols; Patricia Flores, Chute; Michaela Homer, Nichols; Shin Hye Kim, Nichols; Marty Leoni, Nichols; and Liam O’Conner, Nichols.