JPII senior wins statewide 2020 Civics Essay Contest

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Pope John Paul II High School senior Matthew Shipley recently won first place in the statewide 2020 Civics Essay Contest sponsored by the office of Secretary of State Tre Hargett. 

“Although his November birthday fell too late for him to cast a ballot, Matthew empowered his classmates, neighbors, family, friends and many he’ll never know to make their voice be heard by serving as a poll official,” said Hargett. “He, along with everyone who served their community as poll officials, helped to ensure a safe and smooth election even with the uncertainty of the pandemic.” 

This year’s civics essay contest was open to any Tennessee high school student, age 16 or older, who worked as a poll official during early voting or on Election Day for the presidential election. 

First, second and third place winners were chosen from each Grand Division of the state. For his first-place finish, Shipley received a $1,000 TNStars 529 College Savings Program scholarship.  

This essay contest is part of the Secretary of State’s civics engagement initiative to prepare students to be actively engaged citizens. For more information about the essay contest and other civic engagement education efforts, visit

Hargett and other state and local officials visited JPII to present the scholarship to Shipley. 

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