Essay Contest - Access to Justice

Fourth Circuit Essay Contest

2017 Essay Contest Winners

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is pleased to announce the winners of its 2017 High School Essay Contest.

First Place--$2,000 Award: Rebecca Thompson, a rising senior at Cecil D. Hylton Senior High School, Woodbridge, Virginia

Second Place--$1,500 Award: David Okon Edimo, a graduating senior from Richard Montgomery High School, Rockville, Maryland

Third Place--$1,000 Award: John Ford, a rising senior at Marvin Ridge High School, Waxhaw, North Carolina.

The contest, which ran from April 7 to June 16, 2017, was open to current 9th through 12th graders in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.  Excellent essays were submitted by students from all five states.

The theme of the contest was "Access to Justice," and students were asked to share their thoughts on the question: "What does access to justice mean to you and how do the Constitution and Bill of Rights enable this access?" In announcing the contest, Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory stated, "As long as we remain committed to promoting young citizens' understanding of the Constitution, it will remain a powerful instrument for ensuring the stability of our government and the liberty of the governed."

The essays will be read and awards presented at a Constitution Day program scheduled for September 14, 2017, at 2:00 p.m., at the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Courthouse in Richmond, Virginia.

The court extends its appreciation to its panel of judges for their work in reviewing the essays and selecting the top three submissions: Henry L. Chambers, Jr., Professor of Law, University of Richmond School of Law; John J. Korzen, Director of the Appellate Advocacy Clinic, Wake Forest University School of Law; Hannah Rogers Metcalfe, Metcalfe & Atkinson, LLC, Federal Bar Association Vice President for the Fourth Circuit; Toni M. Poling, English Teacher, Fairmont Senior High School, and 2017 West Virginia Teacher of the Year; Sandra Gioia Treadway, Librarian of Virginia and State Archivist of Virginia; and Jody Zepp, Government Teacher, Long Reach High School, Howard County, and 2015 Maryland Teacher of the Year.

For more information about the contest, visit