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Hawkins County student places second in cyberbullying essay contest

Jeff Bobo • May 9, 2019 at 8:30 PM

CHURCH HILL — Volunteer High School senior Emily Christian’s essay about cyberbullying and the First Amendment has been recognized among the top three entries in East Tennessee in the first annual Federal Court Civics Essay Contest.

Christian placed second among the entries from the 24 East Tennessee counties and received $200 during a reception held May 1 at the Howard H. Baker Jr. U.S. Courthouse in Knoxville.

“My essay was about cyberbullying and the First Amendment, how to balance First Amendment rights when cyberbullying is an issue,” Christian told the Times News. “One of the main topics was cyberbullying on school grounds and off of school grounds; also, how it should be ruled based on previous court cases. I came to the conclusion that it was a case by case basis.”

Christian added, “If the cyberbullying happened while on school grounds, schools have the authority to reprimand at their discretion. However, if it is off of school campus, schools can only punish if the student is threatening the community, school, or lives of students. By doing so, no right to freedom of speech will be violated.”

Christian has been in Volunteer criminal justice program teacher Kevin Hilton’s program all four years of high school, and she has earned numerous SkillsUSA awards en route to becoming the 2018-19 Tennessee state president.

She was back to back SkillsUSA Tennessee Mock Trial state champion in 2016 and 2017, placed second in Community Service in 2018 at the Tennessee SkillsUSA State Leadership & Skills Conference, and was asked to be the student representative and guest speaker at the 2018 Institute for CTE Educators, where she addressed 800 teachers from across the state.

Recently Christian was awarded the Sharon Melton Myers Memorial Scholarship sponsored by SkillsUSA and will be awarded the scholarship at the national leadership conference in Louisville June 24-28.

“Emily is an outstanding young lady and has accomplished amazing things while at Volunteer,” Hilton said. “She has definitely made her mark here at Volunteer and can’t wait until she makes her mark on the world.”

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