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Global Harmony Through Personal Excellence, Inc. is a non-profit organization in Washington, DC. Its mission is to support the expression and humanity of children. Read more.

2018 Essay Contest Theme


SPONSOR: Global Harmony Through Personal Excellence, Inc.

Our website is

THEME: What does it feel like to walk in your shoes? What is it like to be you? Is there something you want others to know, or perhaps not know, about you? Using specific examples from your own life, write an essay sharing your inner thoughts and feelings about the hopes, fears, or special challenges that are important to you.

RESPONSE DATE: Monday, April 30, 2018. Essays must be emailed, postmarked, or hand delivered by Monday, April 30.

ELIGIBILITY: Students in grades 4-9 in a DC Public School or Public Charter School.


  • 350 – 500 words (grades 4-6). Typed or neatly handwritten in the student’s own handwriting.
  • 450 – 650 words (grades 7-9). Must be typed in readable font.
  • Each entry must have the following information: the student’s name, grade level, the school’s name and phone number, and the name and email of a teacher to contact. The telephone number and email of the student are very appreciated, but not required.
  • Entries need to address the theme and be written for this essay contest.
  • Entries must be about a true experience from the student’s own life.
  • All entries become the permanent property of the sponsor.
  • Email entries must be sent to the correct grade level address.

PRIZES: Winners in each category (grades 4-6 & 7-9) will receive the following cash awards:

  • First Place – $350.00 and certificate
  • Second Place – $325.00 and certificate
  • Third Place – $300.00 and certificate
  • Fourth Place – $275.00 and certificate
  • Fifth Place – $250.00 and certificate
  • Honorable Mention – $100.00 and certificate

Winners will be announced before or on May 16, 2018.

Prizes will be awarded May 30th at a venue in downtown Washington. Students with prize-winning essays read their essays aloud. Winners and honorable mentions are required to attend the celebration to receive their prize. Winners and their essays will be publicized. Pictures, essays, and videos of the students’ reading their prize-winning essays may be used on our website and other places to honor and to showcase the success of the student and to promote the contest.

JUDGING: Entries will be judged on: writing skills, adherence to the guidelines, clarity, originality, authentic expression, spelling, and neatness. This contest values thoughtful, heartfelt self-expression about oneself and one’s life.

ADDITIONAL AWARDS: A minimum of twenty-five students will receive an Award of Special Mention in June. Priority will be given to students from schools not represented in the winner and honorable mention categories. These students will be notified by mail. The award includes a letter of congratulations and a $25.00 check.

CHECKLIST: Questions to ask yourself before submitting:

  • Did I address the topic? Are my examples and details true?
  • Does the length of my essay follow the guidelines?
  • Did I supply my name, grade level, and the other required information?
  • Did I do a spell check? Is my essay as neat as I can make it?
  • Do I want to have a coach check my essay?

COACHING SUPPORT: Sigma Tau Delta – Alpha Epsilon Rho, the UDC Chapter of the International English Honor Society provides coaching support for this essay contest to students who request it. Contact Dr. Helene Krauthamer at (202) 274-5626. Her Email is:

TO SUBMIT by email: Use the emails below ONLY to submit your essays. Teachers submitting essays for their students, please submit essays individually or in groups of no more than 6 essays in one email attachment. PLEASE put the name of the student in the subject line of the essay.

  • Grades 4 to 6, use this email:
  • Grades 7 to 9, use this email:

TO SUBMIT by mail or in person:

Dorothea and Jim Brady
3925 Livingston Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 200l5-2921

To contact Dorothea or Jim Brady, call (202) 244-1682 between 8:00am and 9:00pm or email or


The Thirtieth “CELEBRATION OF YOUTH” Essay Contest
is proudly sponsored by


Telephone: (202) 244-1682

March 3, 2018

Dear Principals, Teachers, and other Dedicated Supporters of Young People,

We would be honored to have your students participate in the thirtieth “Celebration of Youth” essay contest. This writing competition is open to all children in grades 4 through 9 who attend a DC public school or a publicly funded charter school. Our tradition is our goal; we want winners from schools across the city. The winners will come together to read their essays to a gathered audience in the last week of May.

The theme, the list of contest guidelines, our phone number, and other information are given on the page that says Contest Announcement. This accompanying letter provides useful information and gives advice about the contest. All this information is posted on our website. The announcement is in DCPS and DCPCS E newsletters.

We want to ensure that every eligible student who wants to enter has the necessary support. We can offer coaching support to students who want to enter the contest and want assistance with ideas, clarity, grammar, and overall supervision with their essay. We partner with the UDC Chapter of the International English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta – Alpha Epsilon Rho, to offer this assistance. Quality coaches are willing to help students develop and refine their writing skills for this essay competition. This coaching opportunity can also support teachers who want their students to participate, but simply do not have the time to devote to this essay contest.

The contest due date is Monday, April 30th, 2018. Students may submit their essays by email. Hand delivery and regular mail are also options. The postmark on a mailed submission must be no later than April 30th, 2018.

At least ten winners, five from grades 4-6 and five from grades 7-9, will be chosen. More than twenty students will be declared honorable mentions. Students declared Winners and Honorable Mentions will be honored in the last week of May. The scheduled date is May 30th. At this celebration, the students declared as winners will read their prize-winning essays. To receive their prize, winners and honorable mentions must attend the acknowledgement ceremony. Parents, teachers, principals, classmates, and the media are invited to honor and to witness the students and their achievements.

We are proud that students from all sections of the city have won and that many of the eligible schools have participated over the 30 years. While good writing skills are important, our contest highly values authentic expression. Winning essays show self-reflection. The student might reveal humor or express emotional depth. The winning essays are rich in detail and give personal examples from the student’s own life. An essay with an interesting story or a unique approach to the theme can go far in this contest. The student with a prize-winning essay has an honest, clear, and heartfelt way of writing about the topic. Many criteria are taken into consideration, and this gives students who never thought they could express well, a chance to win and be valued for sharing their thoughts and feelings.

For your essay to be competitive, we encourage you to follow the guidelines. Essays which do not clearly address the theme will automatically be disqualified. Essays way too short or substantially over the word limit will not win. One entry per student is the rule.

If teachers have entered students in the past and your students have not won, please do not give up. Different themes speak to different children. Some children don’t do well one year and go on to win in the next. Every year brings fresh opportunity.

To encourage the participation of students, sometimes a principal will appoint a reading coach, counselor, or particular teacher within the school to coordinate this contest. Teachers might make the contest a writing assignment, an “extra” credit opportunity, or brainstorm with a group of interested students, encouraging them to explore, organize, and personalize the theme. Identifying personal examples can be helpful to the student’s success in the contest. Teachers can help spell check. Or, a teacher can direct the students to a team of coaches we provide.

This is an essay contest that need not be restricted to English classes. Many counselors, coaches, teachers of other subjects, and staff leading after school programs have supported students in entering the competition. Students may enter independently.

Volunteers, coaches, and judges contribute their time and talents to support the children. Past judges have included authors, professional writers, university professors, and members of the press corps. Community leaders, politicians, sport teams, and special figures around the world have praised the childrens’ efforts in this contest. There is support for DCPS/DCPCS children.

We would be honored and delighted to receive entries from your students for the 30th “Celebration of Youth” essay contest. We hope you participate, but whether you do or don’t, we wish you and the students much success and well-being. For the challenging and necessary work you do every day as our city’s educators, we thank you and we salute you. You are invaluable.

With respect, thankfulness, and anticipation,

Dorothea and Jim Brady, Rebecca Carroll, and a team of volunteers rooting for you

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