In a celebration of our most intrinsic of rights, the Department of Classics, Philosophy, and Religion of the University of Mary Washington (UMW) and The Fredericksburg Coalition of Reason (FredCoR) are inviting Middle school students to participate in an essay contest. Students will be asked to tell us, in their own words, Why Religious Freedom is Important to Us.
This project is presented as an opportunity for young people to understand and appreciate the freedoms we enjoy while at the same time encouraging them to address an important and sometimes complex issue. They will be encouraged to draw from their life experience, from what they have learned at home and in the wider world. We hope that this chance to express themselves on life-shaping concepts will be a memory of their middle school years that they will carry with them into adulthood. If the experience helps further instill a love of writing in some of the students, so much the better. It is certain that we will gain some interesting insights.
With the support and guidance of faculty, a panel of students from the Department of Classics, Philosophy and Religion at UMW will review the essays and select the three best. Recognition for all entries and presentation of awards will be made as part of the annual Religious Freedom celebrations in January of 2015. At the FredCoR Celebration after the community religious freedom parade, the writers of the three outstanding essays will be awarded $100 each. The Fredericksburg Secular Humanists will provide these awards. The public is invited to attend.
In conjunction with the UMW Jefferson Lectures, the three winners will be honored with a certificate of recognition from the university. The public is invited to attend.
A signature characteristic of Fredericksburg is an atmosphere of tolerance among all of our citizens. The annual religious freedom celebration is an overt display of this advanced social outlook. We hope with this essay project we can amplify and pass along some of those fine qualities to our children.