During the forthcoming academic year, high school sophomores have the chance to enter a unique essay competition sponsored by the Newport Historical Society. This writing contest, entitled Big Ideas for a Changing World, asks students to explore the question, “What is happening now in your community, or what could be happening, that has the power to change the future in Rhode Island and potentially the world?”

Rhode Island has been a place of many firsts – innovation runs deep in the Ocean State. It’s the first place in the modern world to incorporate the revolutionary principle of religious freedom in its governing documents. That idea and the related concept of separation of church and state went on to sweep the world. Today these principles are included in the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Just a little more than 100 years later, Rhode Islanders changed the world again – this time by starting the Industrial Revolution in America. What will come next?

What’s the prize? Tickets to the hit Broadway musical Hamilton: An American Musical, including a post-show dinner and transportation to/from New York City. Two student winners from each Rhode Island county will be selected. Teachers who sponsor this competition in their classes and have an award-winning student essay will be invited to join the trip.

The essay competition is open to Rhode Island tenth grade students who are enrolled at a public high school, or other tuition-free school, during the 2016-2017 academic year. For the complete submission guidelines, along with the judging criteria, visit NewportHistory.org. Entries must be emailed or postmarked by November 15, 2016. Winners will be announced March 1, 2017 and the prize trip will take place during the April 2017 school vacation.

“As depicted in Hamilton, founding father Alexander Hamilton constantly wrote down his ideas, many of which were new, innovative and important. We encourage students to do the same,” explains the Newport Historical Society’s Executive Director Ruth Taylor. “A little further back in time, Rhode Island’s early settlers sought to change the world with their beliefs, and students can draw upon this inspiration as they explore their ideas in Big Ideas for a Changing World.”

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Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).