Making Democracy Work

High School Essay Contest

High School Essay Contest

Civil Discourse Essay Contest

Barbara Sellers-Young

The League of Women Voters of Marion and Polk Counties is sponsoring a contest for high school seniors in Marion and Polk Counties on the topic of Civil Discourse. Students are being invited to write a 1,000 to 1,500 word essay on the topic.

Some of the potential questions the students can address are: What is the historical position of civil discourse? What is the position of civil discourse in contemporary American culture? Has civil discourse changed significantly in recent history and if so how? What aspects of society strengthen civil discourse? Weaken civil discourse? What is the role of social media in civil discourse? What is the impact of the media (television, films, news sources)? How can a community support an ongoing civil dialogue? What is our individual responsibility in supporting civil discourse?

The project is receiving administrative support from the Salem-Keizer Education foundation and will be reviewed by six highly qualified individuals. The reviewers are:

Steve Chambers is a graduate of Willamette University. He taught at North High for 32 years, serving as department head for three years. In addition to the Masters in Teaching (MAT) course co-taught with Louise Brantley, he taught the introductory education class as an adjunct professor at Willamette and a course in international politics at Tokyo International University of America as an adjunct, both for three years. He has also served on the boards of the Salem Schools and the Salem/Keizer Education Foundation.

George Dyer started his teaching career in Salem at North High in social studies and ultimately became department chair. He also taught at McKay. He later was the principal at South High in Salem. He taught the Administration in Education course at Willamette for several years. He is also involved in the Salem City Club.

Louise Brantley was a student teacher at North High; following graduation from Willamette University she became a social studies teacher at Sprague High. She co-taught the Social Studies Methods class with Steve Chambers in the MAT program at Willamette University.

Jim Sellers is a retired journalist and state communications officer. For 14 years he was a Eugene Register-Guard editor, reporter and columnist, after which he joined Governor Victor Atiyeh's office as writer-researcher. Roz Shirack has been a member of the League of Women Voters for 45 years and has served on local and state League boards. Roz is an economist, retired from the Oregon Legislative Fiscal Office.

Helen Caswell is an alumnus of San Francisco State and the University of California Berkeley. She has for the last six years been a feature writer for Salem Weekly where she has covered local politics, arts and the environment. She is also an accomplished photographer of a wide range of subjects.

Our sincere thanks to them for their willingness to contribute their time. Winners will be selected in January/February. Please share the flier (below) with any senior high school student in Marion and Polk Counties.

Civil Discourse Essay Contest Submission Form