FYI: 222 winning essays were selected out of 7,500 submissions.
I was among the team of graders/judges for the contest and read 600 of these essays. It was a blast and the gaffes that young writers are sometimes prone to make were adorable. Like the student who opined that, overseas, Americans are often viewed as a "materialistic, shellfish, and violent" people. Fightin' Crustacean Nation! That's what I'm talkin' about!
Graders did not know any names, schools, or locations, just the age of the participant.
The first place winner is Philip Wegmann, a home scholar, and the second place winner is Dora Juhasz who attends middle school.
You can read both of their essays here.
Philip and Dora won a free trip to New York City and some cash, and they will be in the audience when John tapes his Fox show, Stossel.