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By Gina Channell-Allen

First Amendment rights topic of essay contest, presentation

Uploaded: Mar 3, 2015

The Exchange Club of the San Ramon Valley has an essay contest as part of its annual college scholarship program. The main theme of the essay is always the U.S. Constitution, and this year the specific focus is the First Amendment.

Considering the recent decision by the FCC on Net Neutrality and the massacre at Charlie Hebdo newspaper in France in January, this year's theme is very timely and, in my humble opinion, very important.

As part of the scholarship contest, a presentation is set for March 18. Two speakers very knowledgeable about the U.S. Constitution will discuss the First Amendment and its impact on the rights of citizenship.

Eligible San Ramon Valley School District high-schoolers have to answer the following questions in their essay:
* Do you believe First Amendment Rights are absolute?
* Under what circumstances, if any, should First Amendment rights be limited?
* Which of the five freedoms listed in the First Amendment do you believe is the most important and why?

(As a side note, a quick survey at my gym revealed that many people can't name the five freedoms in the First Amendment.)

The essay-writers must also tie in information given by Cheryl Cook-Kallio and John Murphy at a presentation from 7 to 8 p.m. March 18 at the Canyon View Banquet Hall, 680 Bollinger Canyon Way, San Ramon.

Cook-Kallio is a 38-year veteran who teaches AP U.S. History and AP Government / We the People at Irvington High School in Fremont and served for eight years as a councilmember for the City of Pleasanton. She served the Hon. Dianne Feinstein as a Madison Congressional Fellow and currently serves on a state task force advisory board for civic education and the National Civics Teachers' Council founded by former Associate Justice Sandra Day O.Connor.

Murphy is a retired Senior Attorney in the California Supreme Court (Chambers of Justice Joyce Kennard) and a founder of the Donald P. McCullum Youth Court. The Youth Court is a restorative justice program that provides an opportunity for first-time youth offenders to participate in a peer-led youth court, health and life-skills workshops and leadership training. Murphy also served as a member of the White House Cabinet
Council on Health Affairs -- Health Policy and Economics Working Group.

The presentation is open to the public, and a video will be posted

For more information about the contest, which is open to SRVUSD high-schoolers, or the presentation, contact Donna Kerger at
[email protected] or (925) 838-9272 with any questions.