West High School student, Olivia Tafs, will be a Sophmore this fall. The 15-year-old took first place in the Ninth Circuit Civics Contest. This year’s topic was “Lessons learned of the Japanese internment.”


Tafs won a trip to San Francisco, where she read her essay in front of newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. Her essay looked at the similarities between Japanese internment and the President’s current travel ban from Muslim countries.


“Japanese internment is a really big thing and a shameful part of our history,” she said in an interview with KTVA. “I had never heard about it before. Granted, I’m going into 10th grade, and I’ve never taken a history class that went past the Civil War, but it was still shocking to me it was something I never heard about and seemed like it was important to know.”


Tafs’ win also came with a $500 prize for winning at the local level and $2000 for the national contest. She says she put the money away in a college fund.