Essay Contest

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The 2020 Essay Contest Theme will be announced at the end of March 2020. Entries will be due on May 2, 2020.

The Celebration of Youth essay contest is open to all 4th through 9th grade DC public school students.

The essay themes encourage students to examine their thoughts and feelings around their personal experiences. Students are asked to write about their lives in their own voices. Prominent media figures and authors are the judges, and people across the city gather to hear the finalists read their prize-winning essays.

We are proud that over the years a majority of the eligible schools have participated and that students from all sections of the city have won. While good writing skills help significantly, many criteria are taken into consideration.

Students who never thought they could write, much less win a contest, have won. The winners might have shown more depth, self reflection, compelling emotion, thoughtfulness, authenticity, or greater humor than the majority of entries.

This is an essay contest that need not be restricted to English classes. Many teachers, including those of art, science, music, and math, have encouraged students to enter. Students can also enter independently. Each year, a few students discover the contest and enter on their own.

Over the years, many notable public figures and sport teams  have congratulated the winners of the essay contest.