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Bronxville High School Students Earn Top Honors In Essay Contest

Bronxville High School students Charles Vorbach and Nicola Phillips earned top honors from the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Bronxville High School students Charles Vorbach and Nicola Phillips earned top honors from the New York Civil Liberties Union. Photo Credit: Zak Failla

BRONXVILLE, N.Y. - A pair of Bronxville High School students have been recognized by the New York Civil Liberties Union for essays they wrote as part of the organization’s annual free speech contest.

Bronxville junior Charles Vorbach won top honors for the entire lower Hudson Valley region at the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) Bill of Rights Essay Contest, with senior Nicola Phillips winning first prize for the district’s school-wide competition.

The NYCLU competition “focuses on the right of free speech and entities that serve the public.” As part of the contest, students were required to assess the constitutionality of an MTA decision about political advertising. According to contest rules, “essays that get selected as the best, must effectively address the topic, have a structured argument, cite appropriate background information and case law, while displaying quality writing.”

Bronxville High School Social Studies teacher Steve Klurfeld praised his students for the time and effort they put forth while researching, writing and submitting their essays.

“The organization is focused on civil liberty issues, so they are experts in this field, which means that our winners provided the highest level of analysis of the essay question,” he said. “Additionally, the contest called for analysis of a very complex situation that appears difficult to resolve on the surface, and even more complex when you examine the issue closely.”

Vorbach and Phillips were recognized for their achievement during a Bill of Rights Day Awards Ceremony at St. Paul’s Church in Mount Vernon. For their accomplishments, Vorbach was awarded $300 and Phillips won $100 from the NYCLU for their essays. The former’s essay can be read here, the latter here.

“It is a tremendous honor for both award winners to be recognized by the NYCLU for a variety of reasons,” he said. “The attention to historical detail, level of analysis of complex legal discussions and clarity of speech in both essays is very impressive.

“The writing submitted by our students contained many qualities that I hope all of our students strive to achieve.”

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