Johnson and Patriot Week founders announce summer essay contest on voting for students

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Patriot Week  co-founder Oakland Circuit Court Judge Michael Warren announced on July  3 a statewide essay contest for kids to encourage them to learn about the importance of voting.

“We couldn’t think of a more appropriate time to kick off the essay contest than just before our Independence Day holiday,” said Johnson, who is a member of Patriot Week’s advisory board. “We really want to encourage young people to look at what makes America great, our founding principles, and how the right to vote – to have your voice heard – is so critical to maintaining our freedoms.”

Left to right – Ernestine Sanders, president and CEO of the Cornerstone Schools Association in Detroit; Leah Warren; Lily Warren; the Honorable Michael Warren; and Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson

The essay contest is open to Michigan students in grades six through 12. In 400 words or less, students are asked to answer this question: “How does a citizen’s right to vote help make America the greatest country in the world?”

Warren and his daughter Leah, 13, co-founded Patriot Week in 2009 as a means to celebrate America’s core principles and history in a meaningful way. Today, many state institutions, from courts to schools, now recognize Patriot Week ( and the celebration of Patriot Week is marked in several other states. Patriot Week is anchored by two key dates in American history – September 11, the anniversary of the terrorist attacks, and September 17, the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution.

“Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s sponsorship of a Patriot Week essay contest is a great way for our students to learn more about the blessings of liberty,” said Warren. “This is an important step in furthering the cause of Patriot Week and renewing the spirit of America.”

Joining Johnson and Warren at Tuesday’s announcement was Ernestine Sanders, president and CEO of the Cornerstone Schools Association in Detroit.

“As a school that is deeply dedicated to America’s founding First Principles, Cornerstone Schools Association has supported Patriot Week from its inception. This essay contest is another wonderful way to educate our students about the importance of the right to vote in our Republic.”

Leah Warren, an eighth grader, said she’s looking forward to the day she can vote. “This Patriot Week essay contest will help my fellow students understand how important and special the right to vote is, and make us all better appreciate our freedoms in America,” the teen said.

Essay winners will be announced during Patriot Week celebrations in September. Winners will receive a certificate of recognition, a small patriotic-themed gift, and be featured in statewide news releases.

Essays, limited to 400 words or less, must include a title, the student’s name, grade (as of September 2012), address, and contact information, including phone number and email address. The deadline for entries is midnight on Friday, August 10. Students can submit their essay on the Secretary of State website at or by mail at:

Michigan Secretary of State Essay Contest

Office of Communications

Richard H. Austin Building, 4th Floor

430 W. Allegan Street

Lansing, MI 48918.

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