Oak Ridge High School junior Mike Tharratt recently returned from Washington, D.C., where he, his high school AP U.S. History teacher Matt Hodgins and a parent were treated to an all-expense paid trip courtesy of the Bill of Rights Institute.
Last fall Hodgins submitted several essays written by members of his AP U.S. History class to the “Being an American” essay contest sponsored by the Bill of Rights Institute. Mike was selected as one of 27 finalists from across the country (out of approximately 24,000 entries) to be recognized.
The awards program included visits to the National Archives, Supreme Court, U.S. Capitol and a tour of the House floor, a Congressional reception and a visit to the American History Museum.
To participate in the contest (one of the largest essay contests in the country for high school students) students were asked to share their thoughts on American citizenship by answering the following question: “What civic value do you believe is most essential to being an American?” In his winning essay, Tharratt selected “self-reliance” as the civic value topic of his essay and wrote, “Dependency is a rot hidden at the core of any civilization …. This holds true for all aspects of a society, and an individual as well. The cure for dependency, however, is at the heart of American ideals: self-reliance; the ability to prosper and forward oneself through faith in oneself, and through one’s own actions.”
The multi-day program concluded with a final evening gala event during which Mike was named one of nine regional first place winners, the top award presented. Mike represents the Pacific Region (Calif., Ore., Wash., Alaska, and Hawaii). Mike and his teacher were each presented with a trophy and a substantial check as part of their award. Mike, an Eagle Scout from Troop 454 and a member of the Oak Ridge varsity water polo and swim teams, excels in the subjects of math and science as well as history and writing. He plans to use his prize money to offset future college expenses.