Sanders Announces Fourth Annual State of the Union Essay Contest

BURLINGTON, Vt., Nov. 15– U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) launched his fourth annual State of the Union essay contest today. The contest is designed to engage Vermont’s high school students on the major issues facing the country.

The U.S. Constitution calls for the president to “give to the Congress information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” As the president prepares his State of the Union speech for delivery in January to a joint session of Congress, Sanders’ essay contest asks Vermont’s high school students to write an essay of 250 words to 500 words about their view of the state of the union.

“This essay contest provides an opportunity for Vermont’s high school students to explore current issues in depth, and will help develop their critical thinking about some of the problems we face as a nation,” said Sanders, who serves on the Senate education committee. “We need to hear the voices of young Vermonters. We need our young people to be engaged, to help find solutions for the problems that confront us, and to think about the future of our country. That’s what democracy is all about.”

During the past three years, more than 850 students from schools throughout Vermont wrote essays to the senator about such important issues as the declining middle class, climate change, health care reform, and the rising cost of a college education.

The deadline for student essay submissions is noon on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014. More information can be found on the senator’s webpage at

A panel of Vermont high school teachers will judge the essays. The finalists essays will be entered into the Congressional Record and posted on the senator’s website. The winner will have the opportunity to have Sanders visit their school to hold a student town meeting to discuss the state of the union and the future of our country. Finalists will have the opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion with Sanders.

Last year’s winner was Caroline Braun of Champlain Valley Union High School. “There is no simple cure for the abundant issues plaguing our nation,” Braun wrote. “Not only are we recovering from a recession, but we also are confronting challenges related to climate change, health care, and education. As a world leader and role model for democracy and peace, we need initiatives that not only connect people and communities, but also ones that will act as catalysts for change.”

Students from the Vermont Commons School in South Burlington and Winooski High School won the contest in the first and second years it was held.