South Effingham Middle School’s Rebecca Kight took first place in a statewide essay contest sponsored by the State Bar of Georgia’s Young Lawyers Division.
Kight, an eighth-grader at SEMS, was chosen as the winner from more than 100 essays submitted by students across the state. She received a $500 cash prize for first place.
"This means a lot to me," she said. "My mom was notified that I won and, when she told me, I got really excited."
The YLD’s Law-Related Education Committee sponsors an essay contest each year for Georgia students in grades 6-8. This year’s topic was "The Importance of the Judicial System."
Kight said she "spent a lot of time" researching, writing and editing her essay. Her legwork included conducting interviews with Superior Court Judge Louisa Abbot and defense attorney Greg Crawford.
In her winning essay, Kight explained that "the United States court system helps protect our rights and freedoms by having the accuser prove that the accused is guilty. In the U.S. court system, we provide every person with a lawyer and the right to a fair trial to prove that they are innocent and the accuser has to bring some kind of proof that the accused is guilty."
Kight concluded "it is better to let a guilty person go free than an innocent person go to prison."
"Our judicial system is a necessity to keep innocent persons out of jail and the guilty paying their debt to society," she wrote. "Also it necessitates that if a person is accused of something, the accuser has to prove, not just state or accuse, that the accused is guilty."
It’s no surprise Kight is interested in the judicial system. Her mom, Cynthia, is a Chatham County sheriff’s deputy.
"She has been a police officer all her life, so I’ve been in that little circle with her," Kight said.
Kight learned about the essay contest through Y-Club, a student organization that promotes self-esteem, leadership skills and moral and civic responsibilities. After getting involved in Y-Club last year, Kight is serving as president of the SEMS chapter this year.
"Rebecca’s position as Y-Club president has already given her experience in leadership, commitment
and community involvement. With this experience and her moth
er’s career in law enforcement, the essay subject matter was a perfect platform for Rebecca to express her values and thoughts," said Y-Club advisor Bev Donaldson.