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Suhaas Katikaneni, of Fairgrounds Middle School in Nashua, reads his Constitution Day essay Tuesday at the New Hampshire Supreme Court in Concord. Katikaneni took top honors in the essay contest's middle school division. (JOSH GIBNEY/UNION LEADER)

Students offer views on privacy and security

CONCORD — They might not end up as lawyers, but 10 students from across New Hampshire got a taste of the state Supreme Court Tuesday, when justices congratulated them on essays they wrote in the New Hampshire Constitution Day Essay contest.

All 10 students wrote about the conflict of privacy vs. security in a country that has experienced the terrorist attacks of 9-11 and the Boston Marathon bombings, as well as the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. All in 300 words or less.

"There is only a little safety to be gained from the government having the right to go through our personal messages and phone calls. The real threats to this country can find a way around using devices of communication that the government can spy on," wrote Andrew Emanuel. A student in the AP American studies class at Laconia High School student, Emanuel won the high school category.

This is the eighth year of the contest. Hundreds of students submitted essays to their local newspaper, which selects two finalists, one each from middle and high schools. The Supreme Court justices determines the winners. The state Supreme Court, the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications and the state Department of Education are sponsors.

Finalists travel to Concord and meet the state's five Supreme Court justices.

"It's one of the few occasions in this room where everyone's happy," said Chief Justice Linda Dalianis in opening remarks. Each student received a pin and a plaque commemorating their selection.

Emanuel said he spent about a week researching and writing his essay. Middle school winner Suhass Katikaneni, a sixth grader at Fairgrounds Middle School in Nashua, said he spent a week on a rough draft, and then additional time editing it.

He said he was surprised to be named the winner.

"When I came home and saw the letter from the Supreme Court, I thought I was in trouble," Katikaneni said.

At 12 years of age, he said he likes law and might consider being a lawyer, but he's more interested in being a professional tennis player.

Emanuel, who is 17, plays saxophone and clarinet and would like a career in music.

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