2017 Essay Contest

57th Annual Freedom Essay Contest


To promote critical thinking in our youth about the various legal, moral, and philosophical issues that affect the freedoms that are enjoyed in the United States of America.

TOPIC FOR 2016-2017:

“The First Amendment provides, in part, that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.” When the First Amendment was ratified, the ease of access to the Internet and the ability to communicate quickly to millions of people through the Internet could not have been contemplated. While the Internet can empower positive speech and communications for safety and good purposes such as fundraising, weather alerts, scientific discovery, etc., the Internet can also empower negative speech for evil purposes leading to dangerous results such as bullying, hate speech, and terrorism. Should the First Amendment be changed to address speech in the Internet Age? If so how should it be changed and why? If not, please explain.”


The Sertoma Club of Nashville will award the top winners of the contest with the following:
– Winner (1): Scholarship in the amount of $3,500
– Runner’s up (3): Scholarships in the amount of $2,000 each

The scholarships will be forwarded to the accredited institution of higher learning of the student’s choice when they are accepted and registered, and upon verification by that institution.

A $100 cash award will be presented to each school represented by the winners.


All 12th grade high school students (or home school equivalent) in Davidson, Cheatham, Wilson, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, and Williamson Counties, who intend to attend an accredited institution of higher learning beginning in 2016, are eligible for this contest. The sons and daughters of Sertoma Club members are not eligible.


1. The essays shall be limited to one (1) page and three hundred (300) words or less. Papers exceeding these limitations will be declared ineligible.
2. The essay must be typewritten and double-spaced. Please use only one side of 8 ½” by 11” paper with due regard for appearance, grammar, and length.
3. Do not use cover pages. The contestant’s name must be printed in the extreme upper left-hand corner and high school name (or home school designation) in extreme upper right corner.
4. The paper must be original and composed by the student.
5. All direct quotations must be referenced appropriately as a footnote.


1. Essays will be judged primarily on the basis of content.
2. Essays submitted by each high school will be judged by a committee comprised of industry professionals.


1 For students, all essays shall be turned in to their respective high school scholarship representative (Principal, Guidance Counselor, etc.) by November 30, 2016
2. The high school scholarship representative shall select three essays that are the most outstanding and forward them by first class mail to the Sertoma Club of Nashville, postmarked no later than December 14, 2016.
Sertoma Club of Nashville
P.O. Box 282486
Nashville, TN 37228
The name of the school must appear on the envelope.
3. Scholarship winners will be notified mid-January, 2016.
4. Scholarship winners will read their essays and be presented with their awards at the Sertoma Club awards banquet on February 28, 2017. The families of the award winners and representatives of the winning high school are invited to attend.