top of page

The San Mateo Elks Lodge just concluded its one of its most successful elementary school Americanism essay contest in recent memory.  Students in schools through out San Mateo County wrote essays on this year’s topic, “What Does Freedom of Speech Men to Me?” There were almost 200 entries from the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Grades representing both public and private schools. The Judges put in tireless hours reading and judging the entries but were finally we able to decide on a total of 12 Winners. Each student who won either 1st, 2nd or 3rd place will be received a stipend from the Elks. In addition they will be invited to a Elks hosted reception this spring and the winners will read their essays. It is truly inspiring and interesting to listen to these essays. We want to thank all the students, teachers, and administrators who have taken their time and effort to help with the essays. 
5th Grade: 1st- Izzy Erickson

6th Grade: 1st- Javier Del Rio 2nd- Sydney Domingo 3rd- Chloe French-Evans

7th Grade: 1st- Hailey Kockos 2nd- Sophia Engstrom 3rd- Isabella Tonnu

8th Grade: 1st- Hailey La Monte 2nd- Ben Ricket 3rd- Gabrielle Smith

Honorable Mentions: Alexandra Ding , Daniel Foad
In addition each individual grade winner was eligible to compete in our District competition and possibly further advance to our State and National competition.

1st Place 2019. 5th Grade.

Freedom of speech is powerful. It is being able to speak up against injustice. It is the power to speak your mind. Freedom of speech is being able to change people's opinion. Freedom of expression is being able to speak up for what you believe is right. It is when people are standing up to the leaders and saying, "This isn't fair. You need to change this." It's when Rosa Parks said, "No" when she was told to give up her seat on a bus sixty years ago. Freedom of speech is the power to voice your opinion. It is when people stand up and voice their opinion. It's when Abraham Lincoln stood up and said, "If slavery isn't wrong nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not think so, and fee." Freedom of expression is being able to change what other people think. It's getting up and presenting a case without being worried about what you're allowed to say. It's  when Gandhi said "Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest." Freedom of speech might be protected by the First Amendment, but with our president, we are getting less and less of it. Freedom of speech is something we need to protect. It is being able to say whatever you want, wherever you want, and it is freedom.

-Izzy Erickson (5th grade)

1st Place 2019. 6th Grade.

To me, freedom of speech means you can have an idea and share it with others  without fear of censorship or judgment. It also means that you have the right to speak out against political and social injustice without the government retribution. Being able to speak your mind without censorship or judgment is important because it can give voice to ideas that, while controversial, may be correct, and in fact, incredibly important. For example, Copernicus' theory that the sun was the center of the universe caused global controversy, but was correct, and lay the foundation for modern astrophysics. Being able to speak out against social or political injustice is pivotal for basic human rights. There have been many people who have NOT let the law silence their beliefs of what was right, and the bravery, dedication, and commitment towards fighting for the rights of the people inspires me. Two examples of people like this are Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. Rosa Parks did not want to get out of a bus seat reserved for whites, because she had a belief that all people are created equal, and she consequently did not let the government silence her. Martin Luther King, Jr. Led countless peace and civil rights marches and protests just so that he could realize his dream of people of all ethnicities living in harmony. The government tried to stop these protests. However, they couldn't! These people were not afraid of the police, and they wanted their beliefs and visions recognized. People like Copernicus, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King are in mu belief, the reason that the 1st Amendment is so sacred and protected today.

-Javier Del Rio (6th grade)

1st Place 2019. 7th Grade.

"I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it." -- S.G. Tallentyre, The Friends of Voltaire. Freedom of Speech is one of the most important principles and rights we have in this country. Freedom of Speech is allowing me to say and write what I believe in without fear of punishment for my thoughts and to bring out a change in society with my opinions. With the right of free speech, I'm allowed to write and say what I believe in. I know that our military fights every day so that I'll never be denied my right to speak of express my opinion. To me that is something that makes me feel safe and secure. With this I'm allowed to protest against causes, and believe in my own religions and politics. With Freedom of Speech I can express my opinions which can bring out a change in the society. Being able to do this we can make America a better country that it already is. When I express my opinions and listen to others with their opinions, positive changes are able to take place. I may be against other people's opinions, but they have the freedom of speech and I will always support that. "We should feel comfortable being in a room with people who disagree with us as otherwise nothing will change." - Josie Timms. To me Freedom of speech means to say and write what I believe in without feat of punishment and express myself to my fullest so we can bring out a change in the society. This matters to me because I don't want to live in fear of my own voice and everyone's opinions can make America a great country.

-Haily Kockos (7th grade)

1st Place

1st Place 2019. 8th Grade.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech" states the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Through the complex wording written by our forefathers, American citizens regard the amendment as a simple truth; the right to free speech. Free speech is an ever-present right, and open and diverse interpretations of it are a fundamental part of the amendment itself. So allow me to present my take on free speech, and how to me it means I am heard, free from fear, and powerful. Representation is critical in how our American society communicates. Media outlets, from newspapers to online platforms, allow reporters and online posters to haver their perspectives seen. This is all possible because of free speech. This means I can have my ideas, perspectives, and opinions recognized and be seen as an individual, not as a part of a grouped mass. When one establishes a person's individuality, it enhances their expression of original thought and raises their quality of self, strengthening as a whole. America is the land of the free, and freedom of speech certainly contributes to that by barring censorship and persecution. Censorship and persecution are methods of dampening voices, and having one's idea threatened by this induces a fear of expression. This fear leads to certain perspectives gradually becoming silenced, stopping any advancement it may have spurred. Furthermore, the people targeted lose a fundamental human right, degrading their sense of value and impacting their role in society. All ideas can cause change and therefore have power. We may not consider the right of free speech as a tool we are equipped with, but it is. Ideas spread, and and when many people have cohesive ideas, this can cause a change. When something can cause a change, it has power. Therefore, when a person has the right to voice an idea, they have power. This matters because when a nation gives power to its people, the people benefit because their needs can be met. In conclusion, the right to free speech means we are all valued, can express ourselves safely, and change the world around us. If we cannot preserve this freedom, society will deteriorate as individuals lose their rights and values of justice and excellence fall away. With this in mind, let us strive to maintain freedom of speech as a fundamental right to better ourselves and our world.

-Hailey La Monte (8th grade)


bottom of page