Students from 10 elementary schools in the Philadelphia region presented essays in song, skit, and video format at the National Constitution Center (NCC) on Dec. 11 for the final round of an essay contest sponsored by the Rendell Center for Citizenship and Civics at Arcadia University. Judge Marjorie Rendell, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Arcadia Provost Steve Michael, and Jeffrey Rosen, CEO of the NCC, formed a panel of judges that evaluated the essays,which centered around the question of whether the president of the United States should have to be a naturalized citizen.
The Citizenship Challenge essay contest was the first major project of the Rendell Center, which aims to promote civics education and responsible citizenship engagement. More than 150 essays were submitted by 4th and 5th grade classrooms in the five-county Philadelphia area (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia). Merion Elementary, which produced a mock video newscast, received a $1,000 grand prize. The first three runners-up (Edwin M. Stanton Elementary in Philadelphia, Chestnutwold Elementary in Haverford, and Cynwyd Elementary in Lower Merion) each received $500 prizes. The money is to be used for a program that promotes civic learning and engagement in the student body.