Essay Contest 2017.

Deadline now extended!
Students may submit entries until midnight on January 15, 2018

2017 Washington Coalition for Open Government
Scott Johnson Open Government Essay Contest

The purpose of this contest is two-fold: to help educate young people about the importance of open government principles and to honor the memory of the late Scott Johnson, a former Washington Coalition for Open Government board member.

Stokes Lawrence is proud to be the primary sponsor of the Washington Coalition for Open Government’s Scott Johnson Open Government Essay. Scott was a long-time shareholder at Stokes Lawrence and active with open government and First Amendment issues.

All high school students, grades nine through twelve, in all Washington public and private high schools, as well as home-schooled students at the equivalent stage of their education are encouraged to submit an entry.

The winner will receive a $1,000 prize and an honorary one-year nonvoting membership on the board of the Washington Coalition for Open Government. Other awards may be made at the discretion of the judges and with approval of the WCOG board of directors. The award(s) will be presented to the winners in their home school districts.

2017 Essay Contest Topic

“In what ways is it important for citizens to have access to Government records and meetings, and what are the perils if citizens are denied access? Cite actual examples of benefits and perils to support your position.”

When preparing their essay, contestants should first familiarize themselves with the coalition’s work at They are also encouraged to study the state’s Open Public Meetings Act and Public Records Act to learn about transparency and what the law requires.

Judging Criteria

  • Clearness of expression and thought
  • Submitted essay is 400 to 600 words
  • Represents the original work of the contestant
  • Care has been taken to avoid plagiarism – the deliberate copying of material written by others. Use of proper attribution.

Submitting Entries

Entries for the 2017 contest should be emailed to no later than midnight January 15, 2017. The essays may be sent as plain text in the body of the email or as Word or PDF attachments. Each email entry should include the contestant’s name, age, home address, telephone number, email address, the school currently attended and, if known, the school or college the entrant will attend in the spring of 2018. No contestant may submit more than one entry.

The decision of the judges is final and non-reviewable.

All essay entries become the property of the Washington Coalition for Open Government and may be reproduced and distributed as the organization sees fit, including publication on the coalition’s website. By submitting an essay, each contestant grants permission for WCOG to use his or her name and photograph for publicity purposes, including announcement of the winner.

The winning essay will also be published in a newspaper working with WCOG. Publication of the essay is made possible through the support of the Stokes Lawrence law firm, primary sponsor of the essay contest. Students should also be encouraged to submit their work to their own high school newspaper AFTER THE CONTEST DEADLINE HAS PASSED.

The 2017 winner will be notified in February and presented with the award in February or March, as appropriate.

For more information about the contest or the Washington Coalition for Open Government, contact

Logo for Small Print Advertising with atty at law outlined