News & Announcements

Fourth Circuit Announces Winners of 2020 High School Essay Contest

August 17, 2020
2020 Student Essay Contest

2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, extending the right to vote to women and expanding on the principle of equality.

What barriers remain today in exercising the right to vote?

What changes, if any, would you make to protect or expand voting rights?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is pleased to announce the winners of its 2020 High School Essay Contest.

First Place--$2,000 Award: Joshua Nelson Jr., a rising sophomore at Great Bridge High School, Chesapeake, Virginia. Read the First Place Essay

Second Place--$1,500 Award: Alexandra Lorincz, a rising senior at Marriotts Ridge High School, Marriottsville, Maryland. Read the Second Place Essay

Third Place--$1,000 Award: Justin Goldman, a rising senior at Maggie L. Walker Governor's School, Richmond, Virginia. Read the Third Place Essay

Joshuan Nelson, Jr.    Alexandra Lorincz  Justin Goldman
 Joshua Nelson Jr. 
Alexandra Lorincz
 Justin Goldman

The contest, which ran from February 4, 2020, to June 1, 2020, was open to current 9th through 12th graders in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The court received excellent essays from students in all five states.

Students were asked to share their thoughts on "What barriers remain today in exercising the right to vote? What changes, if any, would you make to protect or expand voting rights?”

The winning essays will be read during a remote court program scheduled for September 17, 2020, at 2:30 p.m.

The court extends its appreciation to its distinguished panel of judges for their work in reviewing the essays and selecting the top three submissions:

  • Susan Bon, J.D., Ph.D., Professor and Higher Education Program Coordinator, University of South Carolina; Affiliate Professor, University of South Carolina School of Law; Presidential Fellow, Faculty Civility Advocate.
  • Andrew K. Clark, J.D., Member, Hirschler Fleischer; Director, Federal Bar Association; Trustee, Historic Richmond; Director, Historical Society for the Eastern District of Virginia.
  • Carolyn A. Dubay, J.D., Executive Director, North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission.
  • Paula M. Stanton, Ph.D., English Department Chair, Bel Air High School; 2018 Harford County, Maryland Teacher of the Year; Advisor, National English Honor Society; Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Maryland.
  • Patricia Proctor, J.D. - Founding Director, Simon Perry Center for Constitutional Democracy, Marshall University.

For more information about the contest, visit