Angelica Greco, Beatriz Atsavapranee and Scott Singer, all rising juniors at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, were honored at the school’s Diversity Celebration Assembly last spring as winners of the Ammerman Essay Competition.
The competition, sponsored by the George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom and funded by the Ammerman Family Foundation, was open to Whitman 10th grade students taking national, state and local government classes and juniors and seniors taking Advanced Placement comparative government classes.
The essays focused on the contemporary relevance of a letter George Washington wrote to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, R.I., of 1790 in which the first president promised that the United States would be a nation that “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance,” and that the exercise of religion is “an inherent natural right.”
These principles would, a year later, find expression in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
“If we can teach the principles expressed in this remarkable letter, we can inspire our students to safeguard our cherished freedom of religion and never take it for granted,” Joy Ammerman said in a press release.
As first place winner Greco received $750, Atsavapranee won $500 for second place and Singer, the third place winner, was awarded $250.
For more information, visit www.GWIRF.org.