Missouri Bar teams with education groups to honor students for citizenship, Law Day entries

Each year, The Missouri Bar partners with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the Missouri National Education Association (MNEA) and the Young Lawyers’ Section (YLS) of The Missouri Bar to award students for outstanding citizenship, as well as essays and artwork that celebrate Law Day. The 2017 awards ceremony took place Monday, April 17, at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City. Family and educators of the winning students were also invited to take part in the festivities, which included lunch and remarks by Missouri Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Dr. Margie Vandeven and Missouri Bar President Dana Tippin Cutler.

“Your initiative, leadership and commitment to strengthening your communities by identifying inequalities and correcting them gives me great hope that old and new injustices alike will be stamped out,” Cutler said.

During the event, 15 Missouri high school seniors were honored as Outstanding Citizens by The Missouri Bar and DESE. The honorees were selected from an accomplished pool of candidates across the state and, ultimately, chosen for their knowledge of the principles of government and citizenship through academic achievement, participation in extracurricular activities and service to the community.

Wyatt Maxwell, a senior in the Harrisonville School District, took home one of the awards. In addition to serving as president of student council and mentoring freshmen, Maxwell is a leader in his school’s drama department, where he organized a “Trick or Treat So Kids Can Eat” food drive. He says citizenship can make us all better.

“Citizenship is an opportunity for each of us to bring what is special in our lives to the table for everyone,” Maxwell said.

Applications for the Missouri Award for Outstanding Achievement in Citizenship also required school faculty endorsement and a written essay describing and analyzing an individual who exemplifies effective, quality citizenship.

Recipient Reece Ellis chose to focus his essay on a local educator and congressional candidate. Ellis is president of his senior class in the Hazelwood School District, but his passion for elections goes beyond the classroom and into the community, where he is actively engaged in local and state-level campaigns and writes for politically based websites.

“When you write things like this you have to do a lot of background research, and reading about our Constitution and the different legal views on it gave me a new perspective and a new sympathy for people who have different viewpoints than I do,” Ellis said.

2017 Law Day Essay Winners

Seniors weren’t the only ones being honored. In celebration of Law Day, held May 1 each year, young adults from around the state submitted essays demonstrating how the 14th Amendment transforms American democracy and applies to their lives. Nine students, ranging from grades four to 12, received recognition from The Missouri Bar, YLS and the Missouri NEA for their thoughtful essays on the topic.

Riley Bossi, a fourth-grade student from Chesterfield, won first place in her age group for a paper that focused on fairness in schools, as well as historical figures who broke barriers, including Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, black women who worked at NASA in the 1960s.

“I saw this movie and it was based on a true story, so I started finding stuff online about it, and I got inspired to write about it,” Bossi said.

2017 Law Day Art Winners

Students in kindergarten through fifth grade were also invited to interpret the theme by submitting artwork that depicted the importance of treating people fairly.

Click here to see photos from the ceremony. A full list of winners from the day follows.


Law Day Art Contest

Grades K – 2

1stElla Goodrich – Knob Noster Schools

2ndNaomi Bush – Knob Noster Schools

3rd Nia Younce – Knob Noster Schools
Grades 3 – 5

Elseya Ligon – Greenwood Laboratory


Law Day Essay Contest

Grades 4-5

1stRiley Bossi – Rockwood Schools

2ndAlexandra Cohen – Clayton Schools

3rdKipp Vitsky – Clayton Schools
Grades 6-8

1stEliot Blackmoore – Clayton Schools

2ndAlyssa Harrington -Manes R-V Schools

3rdMacken Hadi – Springfield R-12 Schools
Grades 9 – 12

1st Crista Woolley – Maries R-II Schools

2nd Max Thierry – Maries R-II Schools

3rdMurielle Mercier – Hickman Mills C-1


Outstanding Citizens

Maleah Ahuja – Lee’s Summit R-7 Schools

Sarah Ayers – Parkway Schools

Chase Boyd – Carl Junction R-1 Schools

Kadie Clark – Blue Springs R-IV Schools

Alex Dubinsky – Parkway Schools

Reece Ellis – Hazelwood Schools

Bryce Greer -Nevada R-V Schools

Thomas Hotaling – Webster Groves Schools

Luis Jimenez – Hickman Mills Schools

Wyatt Maxwell – Harrisonville Schools

Peyton McGuire – Butler R-V Schools

Hamiz Mirza – Poplar Bluff R-1 Schools

Emily Mouser – Dexter R-XI Schools

Joel Ridenour – Monett R-1 Schools

Camarie Slagle – Savannah R-3 Schools

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