Contest offers college funding
What started as a desire to offer a scholarship for college-bound students turned into an essay prompt that turned heads. The Texas Patriots Tea Party, based in Burleson, is offering a $1,000 scholarship to the student who can best defend their opinion of the second amendment, in light of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, in Parkland, Florida.
The scholarship is open to any student in Johnson County who attends a public or private school.
Ginny Vann, a member of the club, said the group’s objective was to get more young people involved in civics and politics.
“Students aren’t always taught the constitution in school, which is kind of sad,” Vann said. “One of our members had been meeting with school board members, trying to get some of these things implemented in schools and it just wasn’t going anywhere.”
Jami Shelton, another member of the organization, said that TPTP wanted the scholarship prompt to be about the constitution for that very reason. When she asked students what their favorite amendment to the constitution was, they often drew blanks.
“Someone suggested that all the kids write about the same thing,” Shelton said. “So we chose the second amendment because of how timely it was. There would be no first amendment if there was no second amendment.”
Vann said that the second amendment is what sets the United States apart from other countries.
“That’s what we want to do with these students,” Vann said. “We want them to look at the constitution, our founding fathers and the bill of rights. What would our country be like without it?”
However, Shelton and Vann fully expect to get opposing views over the prompt. The women are open to opinions but want to know why students feel a certain way.
“We aren’t trying to tell them whether they should be for it or against it,” Vann said. “We want them to be able to explain why they feel the way they feel.”
The ladies also feel that more young people are left-leaning these days.
“I think in today’s society, most of the millennials get their news off of Facebook, they’re getting their news off of places where it isn’t always correct,” Vann said. “But one of the purposes of our group is education, and that is what we are trying to do, educate these kids about the constitution.”
When asked if it were possible that an essay might win that opposes the second amendment, Shelton said probably not.
“I mean, I would think unless it was very well thought out, and brought up incredible points that were never thought of, I don’t see how it could win simply because that’s not what we’re about. I just want to be upfront. It would be true to themselves and have a nice paper, but unless it’s got great points, that we’ve never thought of before, it’s going to be difficult.”
Despite the interesting prompt, feedback about the essay prompt has been good. Shelton and Vann made it their mission to let all the school districts in Johnson County know about the scholarship. A principal in Joshua emailed the group back to say thank you for thinking of their students.
“I think people sometimes perceive us as antagonistic,” Shelton said. “But that’s really not what we are about. We try to be good stewards of the community. We’ve had rallies around here that have had 400 to 500 people in attendance, and we always try to leave the area cleaner than when we found it.”
Vann and Shelton hope that in future years the group can provide a scholarship in a lesser amount to another student, but for now, the nonprofit organization is doing what they can with the limited resources they have.
“It’s just a matter of money,” Vann said. “We only raise money through our membership dues which are $25. We put on meetings and dinners and try and raise funds that way.”
In addition to the scholarship, the organization also holds free speaking events and have hosted speakers such as Allen West and Congressman Roger Williams. The group hopes that the more speaking events they can put on, the more money they can raise for the scholarship.
When students go off to college, they are going to get bombarded,” Vann said. “We just want them to be armed with lots of information.”
The Texas Patriots Tea Party meets every fourth Tuesday of the month at the United Cooperative Services building, located at Bethesda and I-35. to learn more, call Jami Shelton at 817-517-9355.