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District 47 Students Named 2019 Law Day Essay Contest Winners

Law Day essay contest photo


2019 Law Day essay contest winners James Durcan (center left) and Caden Alexander (center right) pictured with teachers Jean Bowman (left) and Patricia MacNally (right). 


James Durcan, eighth grader at Bernotas, and Caden Alexander, eighth grader at Hannah Beardsley Middle School, were recently named winners of the McHenry County Bar Association’s 2019 Law Day essay contest.   


Every year in recognition of the American Bar Association’s Law Day, the McHenry County Bar Association hosts an essay contest for students in grades 6-8 in McHenry County. This year’s Law Day theme was “Should free speech restrictions be placed in social media? Why or why not?”


In 800 words or less, students were charged with taking a stand on this topic through persuasive writing, making a case either for or against social media censorship by the government.


Caden Alexander expressed that government should not censor social media, partially because it’s difficult to decipher hate speech from satire, especially when utilizing artificial intelligence. “It’s not worth censoring everything to abolish hate speech because people will find work-arounds for hate speech,” he said.


In his essay, Alexander writes, “The possibility of the government being able to censor social media is in my opinion more scary than the hate speech that might be allowed to exist. I would rather be able to say what I want to say even if it means that not so well meaning people would be allowed to speak their mind.” For an excerpt from Alexander’s essay, click here.


In his essay, James Durcan concurred, emphasizing that government has no place regulating anything related to social media and that this responsibility belongs solely to social media companies. Here’s a link to an excerpt from his essay.    


The District 47 eighth graders read portions of their winning essays at a Law Day ceremony and luncheon on May 3 in McHenry. Each student received a $100 check and a certificate.


About Law Day

Law Day was established in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to strengthen the country’s heritage of liberty, justice, and equality under law. Law Day activities commemorate the legal process that has contributed to the freedoms all Americans share. Today many local bar and legal education associations use Law Day as a legal education tool, particularly for students. D47 students were encouraged to enter the contest by their language arts/social studies teachers Mrs. MacNally (Hannah Beardsley) and Mrs. Bowman (Bernotas).