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Central District of California Announces 2022 Local Civics Contest Winners

Thursday, June 2, 2022
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LOS ANGELES – The U.S. District Court and U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California hosted a civics contest for high school students in grades nine through twelve (Local Contest), which was held in conjunction with a civics contest sponsored by the Ninth Circuit for high school students in the Western United States (Ninth Circuit Contest).  

This year’s Ninth Circuit Contest, which focused on students’ free speech rights, challenged students to address “What are students’ free speech rights – and responsibilities – on and off campus?”  Participants were asked to consider what rights the First Amendment provides to students engaging in free speech, both inside and outside of school. 

The following students, all of whom attend Arcadia High School in Arcadia, submitted the Local Contest’s top essays:

  • First place – $1,000: Mary Leung;
  • Second place – $750: Keshwanth Puligulla;
  • Third place – $500: Ella Yee;
  • Fourth place – Honorable Mention: Rachel Wang; and
  • Fifth place – Honorable Mention: Annalise Xiao.  

The following students submitted the Local Contest’s top videos:

  • First place – $1,000: Jesus Montes of Rubidoux High School in Jurupa Valley;
  • Second place – $750: Grace Yue of Oxford Academy in Cypress; 
  • Third place – $500: The team of Makaela Valdez, Angela Vargas, and Amber Gregory of Pacific High School in San Bernardino;
  • Fourth place – Honorable Mention: Viren Mehta of Oxford Academy in Cypress; and
  • Fifth place – Honorable Mention: The team of Lesly Perez and Esmeralda Morales of La Puente High School in La Puente.

The Local Contest’s first, second, and third place essays and videos were automatically entered into the Ninth Circuit Contest to compete with winners from all other districts in the Ninth Circuit.  Winners of the Ninth Circuit Contest were announced on June 2, 2022.  Jesus Montes of Rubidoux High School, first place video winner of the Local Contest, placed second in the Ninth Circuit Contest.  In total, Jesus Montes will receive $2,700 in cash prizes.  

In addition to cash prizes, first-place winners of the Local Contest and a parent/guardian are invited to attend the 2022 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference in Big Sky, Montana.

The Ninth Circuit Contest is sponsored by the Ninth Circuit’s Public Information and Community Outreach (PICO) Committee, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the U.S. District and Bankruptcy Courts in the 15 judicial districts that comprise the Ninth Circuit.  In all, the Ninth Circuit Contest received 800 essays and 112 videos this year.  For more information, please visit