Evangeline Ellis, a junior at George Mason High School, has won the Virginia State Bar’s (VSB) 2017 Law in Society Contest. Ellis, the daughter of Josh and Holly Ellis, is the second of five children and was referred to the contest by her International Relations teacher.
The Law in Society competition is sponsored by the VSB and its Litigation Section and Communications Committee, in cooperation with the Virginia State Department of Education, to increase awareness and appreciation of our legal system among high school students. The criterion for the competition is an essay in response to a hypothetical on a predetermined topic. Awards go to students whose essays best demonstrate a superior understanding of the role and value of our legal system in our everyday lives.
This year’s topic was “Transgender Rights in School,” and students had to write an essay answering three questions – Should the law protect transgender students from discrimination on the basis of their gender identities? Is it discrimination for a transgender student to be prohibited from using the restroom or locker room of their gender identity? And should the federal government establish a nationwide policy on transgender students in public schools, or are state governments and local school boards better suited to make these decisions?
This year’s contest drew approximately 120 entries from around the state. The top eight placers (first, second and third, with five additional honorable mentions) shared almost $7,000 in prize money, sponsored by the VSB Litigation Section. Ellis says her interest in the law is due to her father, who is a lawyer, as well as by the AP Government classes she took as a sophomore at Mason. Ellis hopes to attend the College of William & Mary in the future, where her older brother is currently a student.