Andrew Tan and Richard Alec Merski Accept First Place Awards in 2013 Making Democracy Work Student Essay Contest

Society President Ron Sarasin (center) with the Merksi and Tan families.

On Friday, May 2, 2014, Andrew Tan and Richard Alec Merski accepted the first place awards in the junior and senior divisions (respectively) of the Society’s 2013 Making Democracy Student Essay Contest sponsored by Express Scripts. The awards were presented at the Society’s annual spring symposium in the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Andrew Tan, a student at La Entrada Middle School in Menlo Park, California, won first place in the junior division (grades 6-8) for an essay entitled, “Democracy: Cohesion between People and Government” [PDF]. “America has survived and struggled through adversities to become one of the longest living democracies in the world,” he observed, “because of its strong commitment to the Constitution, impartial application of the law, and unrestricted information from varying political opinions.”

Richard Alec Merski, a senior at James Madison High School in Vienna, Virginia, won first place in the senior division for his essay, “The Duties of Democracy: Reflections on a Citizen’s Rights and Responsibilities” [PDF], which reminds us of the cost of defending the rights enjoyed by citizens of the United States.” Liberty is never free,” Mr. Merski writes. “The American democratic experiment remains a fragile test of freedom against the threat of tyranny. To endure, it will need to be nurtured with dedication, vigilance, and the unrelenting resolve of its citizens to assume individual responsibility for safeguarding their enviable rights.”

Each student received a cash prize of $1,000. The prize also includes a 3-day trip with their parents to accept the award and tour the historic sites of Washington, DC. In Mr. Merski’s case, since he and his family reside in the area, he was awarded a trip to Boston.