Westminster High School Student Earns National Recognition in First Freedom Student Competition
Release Date: 4/20/2010 9:20:22 AM
Erin Michelle Virostek, a junior at Westminster High School, has been named one of the top ten national finalists in the First Freedom Student Competition and will receive an honorable mention. Erin’s teacher sponsor for the competition was Arthur Matthews of the Westminster High School Social Studies Department.
More than 2,200 high school students from public, private, parochial schools and home-schooling regions competed nationwide. Participation included American students as far away as Hong Kong, Poland and Sweden.
The First Freedom Student Competition offers students in grades nine through twelve the opportunity to compete for monetary awards as they explore history, assess current events, and reflect upon the right to freedom of religion. The competition is hosted by the First Freedom Center, a politically and religiously neutral 501(c)(3) education organization that provides programs to increase understanding and respect for religious freedom.
The competition challenges students to write a well-researched essay on the current school year’s religious freedom topic. Erin’s essay, entitled The Importance of International Religious Freedom, dealt with topics such as why international religious freedom matters to her, why United States policy should advance this international human right, and how responsibility lies in the hands of both individuals and members of the community.
Three successive rounds of judging drew on a pool of more than 80 judges from across the country to identify the winning essays. The first round of judges was comprised of historians, historical-site and museum professionals, retired educators and business executives. The semi-final round consisted of constitutional law and religious freedom scholars who determined the top 10 essays. The final round, comprised of experts in the fields of higher education and law, determined the first, second, and third place national winners.