Of the 245 students who submitted essays for Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane’s annual Constitution contest, Scottsdale Preparatory Academy eighth-grader Udbhav Akolkar recently won first place with his essay titled “The Sixth Amendment and its Importance for American Society.”
“It’s an amazing feeling,” 14-year-old Udbhav said of winning. “Out of all of the students who participated, I was honored to be chosen as the first-place essay.”
In his essay on the importance of the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, he wrote:
“Today, we are fortunate to live in a society where the practice of law ensures that a hundred criminals may go free, but even one innocent person should not be punished.”
“Justice is to be denied to no man. Iustitia nemini est.”
Every year, kids from different grade levels enter essays or artwork into the contest. Udbhav submitted a 500-word essay.
“I wrote about the importance of the Sixth Amendment and how that particular amendment is critical to defending the rights of every citizen. I used an example of Sir Walter Raleigh’s execution to highlight the importance of such rights,” he explained.
Lane said he holds this essay contest every year because “it is important that we are concerned on what kids are learning in regards to our history and the uniqueness to our Constitution, including the Bill of Rights that protects the minority, whether it is religion or otherwise against the potential tyranny from the majority.”
He said he chose Udbhav’s essay because it was not only well written, but it’s a first that a student has addressed the Sixth Amendment.
“The Sixth Amendment has never been addressed by anyone who has gotten into the finals before. There are a lot of submissions of some of the more prominent amendments. This young man went through a very interesting portrayal of why our founding fathers thought it was important to have due process, a speedy trial—all of which are contained in the 6th amendment and that impressed me,” Lane said.
Lane added that the Daughters of the American Revolution look over the first round of submissions and they decide the finalists.
Lane then chooses the winner.
Udbhav’s family discovered the contest online and because Udbhav always had an interest in politics and government, the contest seemed “especially exciting” to him.
“The contest is to encourage young Americans to better understand one of the most important documents in the United States,” Udbhav said.
Udbhav added that he learned that nothing in the Constitution should be taken for granted.
“I learned that there was a long period of time when people did not have these rights and privileges to protect themselves, and it increased my appreciation for the work of our founding fathers in protecting our rights,” he said.
Udbhav met with Mayor Lane to accept his award, calling the meeting a “great privilege.”
“It was a great privilege to be in the presence of someone with stature and authority, and it further inspired my desire to go into politics,” Udbhav said. “It was kind and generous of him to offer a competition like this one to encourage us to write about such an important topic.”