Claremore High School sophomore Connor Hostler earned third place in the Oklahoma 2nd District, Constitution Week Essay Forum contest. Hostler was presented a certificate of recognition and letter from Congressman Markwayne Mullin Thursday afternoon during a history lesson in teacher Jan McClaren’s class.
The prompt for the essay was to choose one of the amendments in the Bill of Rights that was influential in the shaping of America, and one that expressed American citizens’ values today. Hostler chose to write about the first amendment, which states that congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
“The freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the right to peaceably assemble, I thought were very important in the shaping of America and the liberties that we have today,” said Hostler.
Hostler said the essay had to be 450 words and it had to fit on one page.
“It was really crazy. I wrote the essay and I was over by 15 words, so I had to revise some and ended up having 450 words exactly,” he said.
Hostler became interested in the contest after history teacher Jan McClaren presented it to the class as an extra credit assignment. The essay was graded like an assignment, but was not mandatory, he said.
The essay forum was open to middle school and senior high students from the 2nd District. Three winners from both a middle school and senior high group were selected by an independent panel of judges.
“We had over 300 entries from students across our district,” said Mullin. “The high school essays were judged in Poteau and middle school essays were judged by a seperate panel in Chelsea. We are grateful to our judges for their time and talents in evaluating the essay submissions.”
Jan McClaren read the letter of achievement from Mullin aloud to Hostler and students during class Thursday.
Hostler said he does not plan on building a political career, however, he does enjoy and appreciate McClaren’s class.