The Class of 1935 Political Awareness Essay Contest

During a special assembly this morning, featured speaker Max Karakul ’11 talked about his professional journey in international justice to Upper School students, faculty, and staff from The Hague, Netherlands. 

Max spoke about his experiences at the International Criminal Court (ICC), where he recently completed an internship, and more broadly about political awareness. He said, "Everything that the ICC does, that I did there—trials, investigations, convictions, international justice as a whole—matters because it matters to the people who were harmed. To me, that is what political awareness is: accounting for the impact of events on others."

Then Head of School Mr. Patrick Gallagher presented awards to the winners of the 39th Annual Class of 1935 Political Awareness Essay Contest. This year, a record number of students entered the contest. Well done to the winners and all who entered, and thank you to Max for sharing your story and perspective and for the important work you are doing.    

First Place
Will Outcalt ’24 - "The X Factor: How Shaker Heights Escaped the Clark Freeway" 

Second Place
Ian Broihier '26 - "Shifting Symbols, Shattering Symbols: The History of the Pink Triangle" 

Third Place
Max Salisbury '25  - "The Israel-Hamas Conflict and Just War Theory"

Honorable Mentions:

Julian Berger ’24 - "FDR's Influence in Deciding West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnett"

Ethan Chen ’26 - "Growing Hope in a Barren Desert"

Peter Watkins ’25 - "Beyond Bronze: Contextualizing and Relocating Confederate Monuments for Historical Integrity and Justice"

Max also shared two stories from his time at US that set him on this path to work in international justice. In one, as a senior in Modern War Literature, his class read Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. The novel is about the slave trade and colonization of Africa from the perspective of an Igbo man in what is now Nigeria watching his society collapse. To put it frankly and bluntly, Max didn't get it. Then his teacher invited an Igbo man to class to explain the cultural and societal context of the book, an experience Max called "eye-opening."

About Max Karakul '11
Max graduated from Kenyon College in 2015 with a degree in International Studies. He earned his JD from Washington University School of Law in 2023, focused on International Criminal Law and International Human Rights Law. As a researcher at Washington University's Center for Human Rights, Gender & Migration, Max studied conflict-related sexual violence and its prosecution in Ukraine, Ethiopia, Guatemala, and Columbia.

After passing the bar exam, Max moved to the Netherlands where he completed an internship at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague where he investigated and prosecuted gender-based crimes and crimes against children. He helped draft the ICC Prosecutor's official policy on gender-based crimes and on crimes against children and traveled to New York City to help present them at the ICC's annual meeting at the United Nations, which he called "a really incredible experience".

About the Class of 1935 Political Awareness Essay Contest
The Political Awareness Essay Contest was established by the Class of 1935 on the occasion of their 50-year reunion to foster the habit of clear thinking about political issues past and present, to reward distinction in the art of expository writing, and to provide the opportunity to undertake original research. 
    • Front: Ian Broihier '26, Will Outcalt '24, Max Salisbury '25. Back: Head of School Patrick Gallagher, Peter Watkins '25, Julian Berger '24, Ethan Chen '26

    • Max Karakul '11 speaks to Upper School students, faculty, and staff at assembly.

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