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The School warmly congratulates Year 11 student Aaron Rucinski, who has been awarded first prize in the 2021 Harvard Undergraduate Law Review Essay Competition.
This is a highly contested and prestigious essay competition for high school students, and 2021 was the inaugural year this competition was open to international entries.
Aaron has been featured in today’s Sydney Moring Herald, please read the full article below.
How a year 10 student from Sydney won the Harvard Law essay prize
By Monica Attia
February 13, 2022 — 11.55am
It’s been hailed by his teachers as an “incredible” achievement. Shore student Aaron Rucinski – 16 and in year 10 at the time – has been unveiled as the winner of the 2021 Harvard Undergraduate Law Review essay contest.
While Aaron had won several school and domestic prizes, his history teacher Luis Siddall said “to win a prize in the USA in an international area, that’s a high honour and he should be very proud of what he’s achieved there”.
Aaron Rucinski, winner of the Harvard Undergraduate Law Review essay competition, at school at Shore. CREDIT:FLAVIO BRANCALEONE
The contest has been run annually since 2006 by Harvard for high school students to encourage a greater understanding of the law. Last year was the first time the contest was open internationally, with entries arriving from 42 schools. Aaron beat out John Chang, a year 12 student of Eton College in Britain, and Sienna Berreby, a year 11 student of École Jeannine Manuel, Paris.
“It was the first time I entered a competition like this, especially an international competition,” Aaron, of Paddington, told the Herald. “I was very surprised to win. Being in year 10, I wasn’t too sure if I’d win, but it was great news.”
Aaron came to know about the contest through a friend. “It was about two weeks before it was due. One of my friends told me … they knew I was interested in law. I loved the topic “Law in a Politicised World”; I found it really interesting,” he said.
Within two weeks, Aaron had picked his topic and constructed the prize-winning essay, titled “Gerrymandering and its Meandering of our Democratic Ideals”. His essay began: “There is no greater threat to America’s democracy than when the voters lack confidence in their political and legislative system.”
Aaron said he underwent “a lot of preliminary planning”, and “gathered [his] thoughts”.
“I landed on gerrymandering. I learnt about it first in debating,” he said.
“I think racial gerrymandering, where the different political parties in America were trying to cut out and minimise the voting process of minority groups in America, was really interesting.” He is passionate about “minority groups have[ing] their voices heard”.
His participation in public speaking and debating contributed to Aaron’s understanding of the judicial and legislative systems.
“I think the main focus of the essay was talking about the role of the judicial system in America,” he said. “I broke it up into the two gerrymandering that we see: racial gerrymandering and partisan gerrymandering. “Every single person has the same value for their vote; that people aren’t just marginalised for where they live or how they live. I think that every single person should have the same voting power if they choose to vote.”
Dr Siddall taught Aaron for four years and described his work ethic as “first-rate”. He admires Aaron for submitting himself for the contest in what he described as a “combination of intellectual adventure and intellectual integrity that has come together nicely for him”.
Aaron is now in year 11 and focusing on the HSC. He found that the experience allowed him to “look beyond Australia for university” as well as “maybe pursuing a degree in law”. “At this point law is up there, and politics and economics,” Aaron said. “I think it [the legislative and judicial system] has a really meaningful impact on society.”
To view the article in The Sydney Morning Herald follow the link here.
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