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Freedom of speech valued with essays
Freedom of speech valued with essays
By SALI McSHERRY
"Why do you think the freedom of speech is considered our most important right?" That is the question, but it's just the beginning in the Hope and Stanley Adelstein Free Speech Essay Competition for high school juniors and seniors.
Presented by the City Club of Cleveland, students are asked to answer what freedom of speech in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution means to them in a maximum of 300 words.
The criteria for awards are clarity, content, originality and significance. The deadline for entries is Feb. 15.
Twenty essays will be selected by judges, who will rank the top three winners to be notified by March 30. First prize is $1,000, second prize is $750, and third prize is $500. The three top winners will read their essays at a City Club forum to be broadcast on radio, television, Youtube and the City Club website. The next 17 winners will receive $100 each, and teachers of the top three winners will win $250.
High school juniors and seniors in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Portage, Lake, Lorain, Medina and Summit counties are eligible.
The City Club, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, is the oldest continuous free-speech forum in the country and is known as the citadel of free speech. It's one of three left in the country, according to Mr. Adelstein, a retired attorney who lives in Pepper Pike, where he served on City Council. The others are in San Francisco and Detroit.
The contest is one of several special activities and events the City Club is hosting this year.
The Adelsteins created an annual award for the best essay on the environment by a law student at Case Western Reserve Law School. And, as part of the Earth Day Coalition, the couple was instrumental in the formation of an art, poetry and essay contest for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. It has been such a success over the years they thought a freedom-of-speech essay contest was a logical move, Mr. Adelstein said.
The City Club has made an effort over the years to bring young people in on Fridays to listen to a host of speakers. With funding from foundations and members, each week, three or four schools send several students to the forums, Mr. Adelstein said.
The essay contest is a wonderful way to attract young people to the club, he said.
Mr. Adelstein is the oldest member of the club who still regularly attends meetings.
In 1941, when he first became a member of the City Club, he heard Henry Morgenthau Jr., U.S. secretary of the treasury under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, speak about the economy. One of the original members of Mr. Roosevelt's cabinet, he was a major force in forming the New Deal.
"I remember the cost of going to the forum was $2.50," Mr. Adelstein said with a chuckle.
He also has heard former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush speak and said he hopes President Barack Obama will speak at this year's special event in October.
Lifelong supporters of many charitable organizations, Mr. Adelstein, 92, and his wife, 90, a retired nurse, have been widely honored for their tireless efforts in a variety of causes, including environmental issues, the Children's Museum of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Public Library and the Jewish Community Center. They also established an environmental fund at the Cleveland Foundation to support environmental activities, programs and studies.
Pepper Pike Councilman Frederick Taft said, "I am thrilled for two reasons that the City Club is sponsoring a Stanley and Hope Adelstein Free Speech Essay Contest. An elemental reason is that Stan and Hope are great City Club advocates, and it will bring them pleasure to see the good thinking and writing and the heightened awareness of the club activities that this contest will generate among those who participate.
"A more subtle reason is that free speech doesn't matter much unless there are people who care enough to listen, absorb and react, and Stanley and Hope are the embodiment of impassioned listening, absorbing and reacting."
Essay entries must include entrant's name, age, grade, school, home address, home telephone number, email address and name, home address and email address of entrant's teacher. Entries should be sent to the City Club, attention of Free Speech Competition, 850 Euclid Ave., Cleveland 44114. A cover letter that states, "This is my original document and does not include any previous composition by another," must be singed by each entrant. For more information, call 216-621-0082.
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