Writing contest, $400 top prize, for students

Voxitatis is pleased to announce a writing contest about the value of education open to public school students in Maryland and Illinois.


  • First prize: $400
  • Second prize: $300
  • Third prize: $200
  • Fourth prize: $100


  • The football or girls’ volleyball season
  • Standardized testing (esp. PARCC)

To be eligible, students must:

  • Attend a traditional public school in Maryland or Illinois
  • Be the sole author, excluding quotes, of an opinion or news article submitted by Nov 29
  • Be in sixth grade through high school during the 2015-16 academic year
  • Grant Voxitatis the right to publish the article on these pages
  • Provide a valid name, email address, and mailing address

Guidelines for writing and submitting your work:

Using one of the topics listed above, make (and support) the argument that it strongly or weakly contributes to or detracts from your education, development, and/or maturation.

Voxitatis expects the length of most articles submitted for this contest to be between 1500 and 2400 words, although this guideline is flexible. We encourage brevity, as long as sufficient support is present, as opposed to long-winded or rambling exposition.

The article should be emailed to contest@schoolsnapshots.org as a plain text, Microsoft Word, or PDF file. It may be edited prior to publication, but the original story submitted will be used in evaluating the quality of the piece, according to the scoring rubric that follows.

Scoring rubric for determining the order of awards:

The number of unique IP addresses that hit your article will count for 50 percent of the score. The quality of the article, judged by English teachers in a different state from the writer, will count for the other 50 percent. No prize will be awarded to an article that does not meet minimum quality standards, regardless of the hit count. We reserve the right not to award all prizes. Prizes that are not awarded will be forfeited.

Teachers will be evaluating the article on the following qualities:

  1. How well does the article address the subject and develop the claims within it with comprehensive and effective evidence?
  2. Is the reasoning clear, logical, and supported by relevant evidence or objective written documents?
  3. Does the writing conform to an appropriate journalistic style and, within those constraints, demonstrate a command of standard written English?

As you see from the scoring guidelines, no viewpoint will be suppressed on the basis of viewpoint or side taken on the issue. Furthermore, the position the writer takes has no bearing on the score given for quality, although it may affect the hit count.

In the case of a tie, both or all three writers will receive the highest prize involved in the tie.

Agreement to terms of service

By submitting a story for this contest, you agree to allow Voxitatis to publish your story, with your by-line, on our blog (these pages). Voxitatis reserves the right not to publish stories that violate our terms of service, which prohibit, among other things, personal attacks, potentially libelous or slanderous remarks, and undocumented accusations against another person or group of people. Stories we don’t publish aren’t eligible for the contest, and our decision not to publish a story submitted for this contest is final.

Answers to questions we have received:

If you have any questions, please write to editor@schoolsnapshots.org before submitting your piece. If the questions are of general interest, we’ll post the answers here. You can also write a comment on this page, and it will be addressed.

How do students get paid? All decisions are final as of the date of announcement. The deadline for submitting a story is Nov 29. Any stories submitted after that date will not be eligible for the contest. On Thursday, Dec 10, we will announce the winners on this page and send out checks payable to the writers to the mailing address received when the winning stories were submitted.

How will the hit counts be determined? Using the HTML access log files on our server, we will determine the number of unique IP addresses that viewed each story from the date it is published and ending at midnight, Pacific Time (our server is in California), on Dec 9. Sending in your story at least a little while before the deadline will make it available for viewing over a longer period of time and may affect the hit count.

Links and tweets to articles submitted so far:


About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more biographical information, see the About page.