Nicholas Bullis, a junior at Calvert Hall College High School in Baltimore, MD has been named the National Video Winner in the 2012 / 2013 First Freedom Student Competition and will receive a $2,500 award. This year’s student participants included 1,842 ninth – 12th grade students from public, private, parochial schools and home-schooling regions nationwide, including American students as far away as Kenya and Nepal.

The First Freedom Student Competition offers ninth – 12th grade students the opportunity to compete for monetary awards as they examine the history and current-day relevance of religious freedom, and then, by written essay or video production, present their evaluation. This year’s topic introduced students to George Washington’s letter to the Jewish congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, where he addressed a new standard for religious freedom and religious equality for citizens of the young nation. Students identified the basic principles of religious liberty espoused in this primary document and then researched and assessed how well the United States has lived up to Washington’s ideal. Please click on the link to view Nick’s video: https://www.firstfreedom.org/content/2013_Video_Winner.html.

The competition is hosted by the First Freedom Center, a non-partisan, non-denominational, non-profit organization that advances the fundamental human rights of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience through education, monitoring, and advocacy programs. The 2012 / 2013 competition is funded by the George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom and the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation.

“It is paramount that our young people understand the significance of religious freedom as a basic human right,” stated Ambassador (ret.) Randolph Bell, First Freedom Center president, “and it is equally important that we equip them with knowledge and respect for the diverse religious beliefs of others.”

The competition challenges students to produce a well-researched essay or video on the current school year’s religious-freedom topic. Three successive rounds of judging draw on a pool of over 80 judges from across the country to identify the winning entries.  The first round of judges is comprised of historians, historical-site and museum professionals, retired educators and business executives. The semi-final round consists of constitutional-law and religious- freedom scholars who determine the finalists. The final round, comprised of experts in the fields of higher education and law, determines the national winners.

The First Freedom Student Competition is held annually, and it is open to students in the United States, U.S. territories, and to American schools and American home-schooled students worldwide. The First Freedom Center invites ninth – 12th grade students at all levels of academic placement to participate.

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Student/Teacher Contact Information

Nick’s teacher sponsor for the competition is Mr. George Kropp of the Calvert Hall College High School Social Studies Department. Mr. Kropp can be reached at 410-857-5790 or at kroppg@calverthall.com.

About the First Freedom Center

The mission of the First Freedom Center is to advance the fundamental human rights of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. The Center is a non-partisan, non-denominational, non-profit organization that pursues its mission through education, monitoring, and advocacy programs across the United States and abroad.For more information on the student competition and the First Freedom Center, visit www.firstfreedom.org or contact Sandi Poulsen, Outreach Programs Coordinator, at 804-239-1663 or at spoulsen@firstfreedom.org.