Education News

Sen. Sanders launches 2021 essay contest

BURLINGTON, — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has launched his 12th annual State of the Union Essay Contest.

Each year, the President of the United States delivers the “State of the Union” address to a joint session of Congress, which outlines priorities for the coming year. Sen. Sanders knows that great ideas can come from everyone — not just those in power — which is why he created the State of the Union Essay Contest to encourage young people to become engaged in the political process. The contest is an opportunity for Vermont high school students to describe a major issue facing our country and propose what they would do to solve it.

The 250-500 word essays can be on any issue of national importance. A volunteer panel of Vermont teachers will judge the essays on the students’ ability to articulate an issue and propose a solution, without regard to the students’ political views. Sanders will enter the essays of the finalists into the Congressional Record — the official archive of the U.S. Congress.

“I want to see our students be actively engaged, no matter where they stand on the issues,” said Sanders, who serves on the Senate’s education committee. “As we enter the twelfth year of this contest, I believe it is more important than ever to listen to the perspectives of our young people. We are continuing to address the health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, while also working to address many of our country’s long-neglected structural issues like education, health care, and climate change. Simply put, this is a pivotal moment, and I, for one, would like to hear the thoughts and ideas of our young people about how we can move forward as a country.”

Nearly 5,000 students from high schools throughout Vermont have written essays in the past 11 years about critically important issues, including climate change, racial justice, access to mental health care, the state of our democracy, and much, much more. Last year, William Taggard from Brattleboro Union High School was selected as the winner from 319 submissions for his essay on the presidential election process.

The deadline for student essay submissions is Jan. 11. More information can be found on Sanders’ Senate webpage at or by calling (800) 339-9834.

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