Before Sept. 11, 2001, Rebecca Higgs remembers her classmates at Carson High School being indifferent to the Pledge of Allegiance.
"But things changed after the terrorist attack," she wrote in an essay last year commemorating the attacks. "Our allegiance suddenly had meaning. There was a new reason for us to remember those who had died in service of our country."
Higgs won the school district's essay contest last year as a senior in the high school division. School board members are sponsoring an essay contest this year with the theme "Liberty and Justice for All: Define these precepts and write how and why you think they affected the way Americans responded to the attack on Sept. 11."
Trustee Sheila Ward introduced the idea.
"The response of Americans during that time was just so wonderful," she said. "It is a way to commemorate Americans' courage and caring. The purpose is really positive."
Board members agreed to donate a portion of their salaries to fund $250 savings bonds to be awarded to each of the three winners from the elementary, middle school and high school levels.
"It's very little money for such a big impact," said John McKenna, president of the school board. "It's a good idea to have the kids thinking about patriotism because we establish their future values while they're still young. It's the youth of America that fights for America."
All Carson City students in and outside of the school district can enter the contest. Completed essays should be delivered to the Carson City School District at 1402 West King St. by 5 p.m. Sept. 30.
Essays will be judged within each grade level on adherence to topic, quality of writing and originality of thought. Winners will be announced at the Oct. 28 school board meeting.