Local Student Runner-Up of National Essay Contest


On the 232nd anniversary of the United States Bill of Rights ratification, the Herzog Foundation is proud to announce the following winners of the 2023 Bill of Rights essay contest:

  • Viana Johnston (Lighthouse Christian Academy – Stevensville, MD) – Middle School Winner
  • Ben Scott (Providence Classical Academy – Rogers, AR) – High School Winner

The Herzog Foundation is also proud to announce the following runners-up:

  • Alyssa Wylie (Calvary Christian School – Bellefontaine, OH) – Middle School Runner Up
  • Hannah Miller (Homeschool – Pensacola, FL) – Middle School Runner-Up
  • Maggie Brown (Homeschool – Arvada, CO) – Middle School Runner-Up
  • Grayson Scortia (Smith Mountain Lake Christian Academy – Moneta, VA) – Middle School Runner-Up
  • Shiloh Showalter (Summit Classical Christian School – Bellevue, WA) – High School Runner-Up
  • John-Matthew Hines (The Saint Constantine School – Houston, TX) – High School Runner-Up
  • Bailey Driggers (Hope Scholars Academy – North Charleston, SC) – High School Runner-Up
  • Gracie Tan (Heritage Classical Academy – Peninsula, OH) – High School Runner-Up

“The Bill of Rights was ratified over 230 years ago and still stands as a beacon for our most fundamental rights as Americans,” said Herzog Foundation Chairman Todd Graves. “It’s crucial that all young students understand the significance of this founding document.”

All middle school and high school students currently enrolled in a Christian school or homeschool were eligible to participate in the essay contest. Each winner and their school received a $250 award from the Herzog Foundation. Additionally, each runner-up and their school received a $100 award.

“Too many young people are losing sight of the civic values that characterize American democracy,” said Herzog Foundation President Darrell Jones. “Many families and schools even shy away from celebrating our country and founding documents. This is unacceptable. At the Herzog Foundation, we want to reward the students and schools that not only recognize our fundamental American beliefs but celebrate them as well.”

Essay contestants were asked to answer the following prompt in three pages or less: What made the Bill of Rights so revolutionary and unique when it was ratified? How has the Bill of Rights shaped our country?

“America the Beautiful could not have been what it is now had the Bill of Rights not been written. The flag that we take off our hats for and pledge our allegiance to would not exist had our freedom not been expressed in this document. It all goes back to that little word: freedom, which brightens each day and gives us something to fight for. It sets chills down the spines of Americans and quickens the heartbeat of the fighting spirit within us. It was the Bill of Rights that made all this possible,” said Middle School Winner Viana Johnston.

“The enduring impact of the Bill of Rights is not confined to the borders of the United States; it has reverberated across the world, shaping legal frameworks, influencing cultural norms, and inspiring movements for freedom and human rights. This document, with its meticulous delineation of individual rights and limitations on governmental power, has become a universal symbol of the relentless pursuit of freedom. The Bill of Rights stands as a radiant testament to how visionary ideals can transcend boundaries, shaping not only the destiny of a nation but also leaving an indelible mark on the global consciousness,” said High School Winner Ben Scott.

“Coattails and silver buttons! Those men were more than just a powdered wig – I mean pretty face. On December 15, 1791, our founding fathers recognized the importance of protecting the rights of the people by establishing America’s Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to The Constitution. The Bill of Rights was so revolutionary and unique when it was ratified because it recognized and protected our natural rights and freedoms; it shaped our country into what it is today by letting the people have the power and freedom to read, worship, and speak however they see fit in just the first amendment alone,” said Middle School Runner Up Alyssa Wylie.

“The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States, enumerating what the Declaration of Independence said were God-given rights. After so long, the Americans had established a document that secured their rights and freedoms. It did not give any rights; it highlighted and secured the freedoms they should have already had. It showed they would be controlled no longer,” said Middle School Runner Up Hannah Miller.

“I am so thankful that I can bound up the steps of my church without fear or restriction. Today, as my eyes glance at the white steeple that points to the heavens, I smile. I swing open the doors, and I’m greeted by the friendly faces of my church family. I’m reminded that because of the Bill of Rights, I’m free to worship God,” said Middle School Runner Up Maggie Brown.

“The Bill of Rights along with the Constitution has stood up to tyrannical assault for many, many years due to the sheer brilliance of our Founding Fathers and the Anti-Federalists who designed our republic to limit government and make it answerable ultimately to we, the people. The Constitution will always win in the end,” said Middle School Runner Up Grayson Scortia.

“The very ethos of the American spirit is found in the Bill of Rights. This landmark document profoundly impacted the national spirit of independence that has permeated America’s history. By establishing the boundaries of federal power and outlining fundamental rights owed to each individual, the Bill of Rights has ensured that American citizens are valuable voices in forming the nation’s social landscape,” said High School Runner Up Shiloh Showalter.

“The Bill of Rights gives ordinary people proof that our government wants to give us genuine independence and will fight hard to ensure our rights. It shows the common man and politician alike that a democratic nation needs to be protected and nurtured, using teamwork amongst parties to continue to work as a thriving paradigm,” said High School Runner Up John-Matthew Hines.

“The Bill of Rights stands as a radical document in America’s political history through its constraint of governmental authority and its protection of individual rights. It marked a departure from the monarchial government system, granting more power to the people. The enduring relevance of the Bill of Rights, even to this day, attests to its lasting impact on the safeguarding of freedom,” said High School Runner Up Bailey Driggers.

“Freedom cannot be left to collect dust. Freedom must be cultivated. The founders of America, understanding the cost of freedom, sought to design a nation in which freedom was valued and protected. After creating a constitution in which these principles were upheld, some felt that freedom was still not fortified enough. Consequently, the Bill of Rights was constructed,” said High School Runner Up Gracie Tan.

About the Stanley M. Herzog Charitable Foundation

The Stanley M. Herzog Charitable Foundation is a charitable foundation dedicated to catalyzing and accelerating the development of quality Christ-centered K-12 education so that families and cultures flourish.

Learn more at HerzogFoundation.com.