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Posted on: October 19, 2022


Tervo Sisters - 1st and 2nd Place with School Board and Nikki

Tallyn and Terryn Tervo garnered 1st and 2nd Place in this year’s Clerk’s Constitution essay contest. Camila Almonte, a fifth grader at Innovation Preparatory took 3rd place honors. 

2022 Constitution Essay Winners hand shake with school board

Tallyn wrote, “We the people ... the introduction of the United States Constitution... are the three most important words ever written into a governing document.  It means that the people have control over how they will be governed. The protection of the “unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as described by the Declaration of Independence is weaved into the U.S Constitution through its system of checks and balances as well as the Bill of Rights. The brilliance of the Constitution lies in its ability to be bent and stretched so that it can apply to today and tomorrow’s world.”


Tallyn’s sister, Terryn also wrote a thought-provoking essay.  She highlighted the importance of Freedom of Speech.  


Terryn wrote, “The pen is mightier than the sword. This quote has never been more relevant than it is today. Through the power of the internet, ideas and reports can be disseminated in a matter of milliseconds. With this incredible ability to distribute information quickly, many governments are threatened. For example, China restricts its people’s exposure to the internet, limiting what they can access. In North Korea, websites that the government deem too liberal are routinely blocked and the press is often censored. This means that a journalist’s work is banned from being printed or broadcast over the internet.”


Camila Almonte focused on the three branches of government.


Camila wrote, “In the United States it’s important that the three branches of our government are stable. If the constitution did not exist, nobody would know their roles. This means that laws would cause chaos all over the country. People would start enforcing laws even though only the Executive Branch can. Laws may also be broken or even removed which could result in many people in courts.”


Tom Jackson worked for years as a columnist for the Tampa Tribune and has judged the essay contest since its inception.  “I look for essayists, even at this age of 10 or 11 years old, who understand that there were important truths that were laid out by the founders who declared their independence from Great Britain, from England,” said Jackson.  “It was important for those who drafted the Constitution, while wanting a stronger central government, to respect what had been laid out as the reason for independence.”


Jackson is one of three judges who read the essays and rated them on their merit.  Peter Bernard spent decades as a television reporter in Tampa Bay, recently retiring from WFLA-Newschannel 8.  Mary McCoy is Senior Editor and Media Relations Manager at St. Leo University.  Prior to her work in academia, she spent 10 years as an editor and bureau chief for the Tampa Tribune.  McCoy submitted notes on all the top essays.  One of them, she commented, “This one tugged at the heartstrings.  This essay connected the dots between the document and the student’s life,” McCoy wrote.  “I can tell that this was not the teacher’s examples or words, nor is the parents’ words.”


Bernard commented, “I think it’s important for Americans to recognize where we came from, and also recognize that we have faults in this country, and we correct those faults through the Constitutional amendments.”


Jackson went on to say, as a judge, reading the essays can be an education for him as well!  “It’s an education for someone who’s been an adult as long as I have,” said Jackson.  “To read what young people have to say about the Constitution.  And, be energized and reassured by the fact that those who are brave enough to take on this task, put the research into it, put their hearts into it, and in so many ways, absolutely reassuring to me that this group of 5th graders in Pasco County are getting an idea of what it means to be a citizen of the United States.”


There was a total of 64 essays submitted from students at seven public and private schools in the county.  Pasco Clerk of Court & Comptroller Nikki Alvarez-Sowles announced the winners at a recent Pasco School Board meeting.  “This is a day that I always look forward to, and I know you do to,” said Clerk Alvarez-Sowles.  “We get so many essays provided to us by the 5th graders.  They have such great imaginations and great writing skills.   We were very impressed by the entries this year.”

 Click here to view a video of the presentation.

Here is a complete list of the winners and those students who received Honorable Mentions:



1st Place:  


Tallyn Tervo                            Oakstead Elementary 


2nd Place:


Terryn Tervo                           Oakstead Elementary


3rd Place:


Camila Almonte                      Innovation Preparatory


Honorable Mention:


Payton Sealy                          Wesley Chapel Elementary

Alexandra Valle                       Quail Hollow Elementary

Felix Gonzalez                        Oakstead Elementary

Deandra Charles                     Wesley Chapel Elementary

Yug Trivedi                              Oakstead Elementary

Hector Venegas                      Pasco Elementary 

Claire Gareau                         Christian Crossings Academy

Benjamin Vo                           Dayspring Academy Harmony Campus

Lucero Soto                            Quail Hollow Elementary 

Eli Strouse                               Christian Crossings Academy

McKinley Mays                       Oakstead Elementary 

Brooklyn Karnaby                   Christian Crossings Academy

Annalise Suh                           Christian Crossings Academy

Emerson Blanton                    Oakstead Elementary

Owen Lundberg                      Christian Crossings Academy

Naysa Yadav                          Oakstead Elementary

Ethan Cytryszewski                Oakstead Elementary

Peyton Hoag                           Christian Crossings Academy            

Ryder James                          Christian Crossings Academy

Abram Holingsworth               Oakstead Elementary

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