A High-Schooler’s Guide to Writing Contests: 2022 Edition

  • Age: All students in grades 9–12
  • Deadline: February 19, 2022
  • Entry Fee: $5
  • Prize: First Place = $1,000 scholarship, Second Place = $500 scholarship, Third Place = $300 scholarship.
  • Prompt: “How can student journalists use social media for free speech and amplifying voices, but still ensure ethical and responsible use of the platforms?”
    Word count = 300–500 words.
  • For more details: http://jea.org/wp/home/awards-honors/high-school-essay-contest/
  • Age: 3–12th grades, poems will be grouped for judging by 3–5th, 6–8th, and 9–12th.
  • Deadline: March 1, 2022
  • Entry Fee: None
  • Prize: Publication on http://www.sandburg.edu/poetryawards
  • Prompt: “Carl Sandburg wrote millions of words reflecting on the American experience of the 20th century. Though his words often focused on war, labor, and social injustice, as a father of three, he also wrote imaginative, zany, and fantastical children’s stories, called ‘Rootabaga Stories.’ Carl Sandburg’s ‘Rootabaga Stories’ were first published in 1922 and celebrate 100 years of entertaining readers of all ages this year. The theme ‘Ambition’ is from one of these stories. An ambition…creeps in your heart night and day, singing a little song, ‘Come and find me, come and find me.’”
    Poems must be submitted by a teacher (traditional classroom or homeschool teacher). Poems can be written in any style, but must not exceed one-page in length. No illustrations.
  • For more details: https://www.nps.gov/carl/learn/news/2022-poetry-contest.htm
  • Age: 11–18
  • Deadline: March 9, 2022
  • Entry Fee: None
  • Prize: Publication on The New York Times Learning Network.
  • Prompt: “New York Times journalists in the Science, Health and Technology sections explore scientific topics in a way that is engaging and understandable to the general reader. For this contest, The Learning Network invites you to bring that same spirit of inquiry and discovery to finding a STEM-related question, concept or issue you’re interested in, and, in 500 words or fewer, explaining it to a general audience in a way that not only helps us understand, but also engages us and makes us see why it’s important.”
  • For more details: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/04/learning/our-3rd-annual-stem-writing-contest.html
  • Age: 19 years old or younger on March 15, 2022.
  • Deadline: March 15, 2022
  • Entry Fee: None
  • Prize: Winning plays will be performed by professional actors in Summer 2022.
  • Prompt: “Original plays or musicals on any subject and any length. Up to 3 plays per playwright or playwright team.”
  • For more details: https://www.theblank.com/young-playwrights-festival/
  • Age: Students in grades 9–12 in any of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories, or if they are U.S. citizens/lawful permanent residents attending high school overseas.
  • Deadline: April 4, 2022
  • Entry Fee: None
  • Prize: First Place = $2,500, an all-expense paid trip to the nation’s capital from anywhere in the U.S. for the winner and their parents, and an all-expense paid educational voyage courtesy of Semester at Sea. Runner-up = $1,250 and a full tuition to attend a summer session of National Student Leadership Conference’s International Diplomacy program.
  • Prompt: “The current multipolar era poses challenges for U.S. foreign policy but also provides new opportunities for partnership across world powers — including emerging great powers like China and Russia — to build peace in conflict-affected countries. Describe a current situation where American diplomats and peacebuilders are working with other world powers, as well as local and/or regional actors, in a conflict-affected country to champion democracy, promote human rights, and/or resolve violent conflict.
    Successful essays will identify, in no more than 1,250 words, the strategies and tactics U.S. Foreign Service Officers and American peacebuilders are employing to build successful partnerships with other world and regional powers and with local actors in the chosen current situation. The essay will also describe specific ways that these partnerships are helping to promote stability and build peace.”
  • For more details: https://afsa.org/essay-contest
  • Age: 11–19
  • Deadline: April 13, 2022
  • Entry Fee: None
  • Prize: Publication on The Learning Network and eligibility to have your work published in the print New York Times.
  • Prompt: “We invite students to write short, evidence-based persuasive essays like The New York Times Opinion page publishes every day. Choose a topic you care about, then gather evidence from sources both within and outside The New York Times and write a concise editorial (450 words or fewer) to convince readers of your view.”
  • For more details: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/24/learning/our-ninth-annual-student-editorial-contest.html
  • Age: Ages 7 to 17
  • Deadline: April 25, 2022
  • Entry Fee: $6
  • Prize: Ten winners (and a few noteworthy entries) will be published on our website in mid-August 2022. The winners will receive an Honor Award Certificate, a few complimentary back issues of Skipping Stones, and five nature and/or multicultural books.
  • Prompt: “Peace Within, Peace in Our World. The way towards finding peace within as well as working for peace in the world is often a journey even more than a destination. Prose under 1,000 words; poems under 30 lines. Non-English and bilingual writings, photo essays and art pieces (up to 8) are equally welcome. Up to 5 entries per person.”
  • For more details: https://www.skippingstones.org/wp/youth-honors-award/
  • Age: High school students from anywhere in the world.
  • Deadline: April 30, 2022
  • Entry Fee: None
  • Prize: One winner each in poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction, to receive a $200 cash award. Two honorable mentions are also selected in each genre category.
  • Prompt: “Polyphony Lit invites submissions of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction from high school students (or equivalent) worldwide. Students may submit for publication in our annual volume, and/or one of our three annual writing contests. Anytime you submit, your work will be evaluated for publication in our magazine and, if published, it will be eligible for the Claudia Ann Seaman Young Writers Award.”
    Submissions for Volume 18: Reading Period = March 1 — April 30, 2022 (max. 800). Seasonal Contests: Winter = February 1–28, 2022, Summer = June 1–30, 2022.
    Word Count: Poetry with up to 80 lines is eligible. Fiction and creative non-fiction must be 1,800 words or fewer, double-spaced.
  • For more details: https://www.polyphonylit.org/copy-of-submit
  • Age: Students enrolled in grades K–12.
  • Deadline: May 1, 2022
  • Entry Fee: None
  • Prize: First Prize = $7,500 and a scholarship to the 2022 Constitutional Academy summer program in Washington D.C, Runners Up = 5 prizes at $1,500 each, Honorable Mention = 10 prizes at $500 each.
  • Prompt: “How does an understanding of natural rights and respect build a free society? Essays should be between 500–800 words and should demonstrate an understanding of natural rights, how they relate to the principle of respect, and how the flourishing of a free society is dependent upon them. Excellent essays will go beyond ‘dictionary definitions,’ to express their understanding and reasoning about the connections among these principles. Specific examples, and well-researched facts should be combined with students’ own observations and experiences. A good essay will demonstrate how these principles are not just abstract ideas but are part of people’s everyday actions and choices.”
  • For more details: https://billofrightsinstitute.org/we-the-students-essay-contest/we-the-students-tools-and-essay-prompt
  • Age: Students enrolled in grades K–12.
  • Deadline: May 1, 2022
  • Entry Fee: None
  • Prize: $500 and a one-year membership in the WHA.
  • Prompt: “In what way has the study of world history affected my understanding of the world in which I live?”
  • Word count = approximately 1,000 words.
  • For more details: https://www.thewha.org/awards/student-essay-competition/
  • Age: 19 years old or younger on May 1, 2022.
  • Deadline: May 1, 2022
  • Entry Fee: None
  • Prize: $250 and publication by YouthPLAYS.
  • Prompt: “Unpublished, non-musical one-acts between 10–40 minutes in length. Any genre or subject, plays should be suitable for school production and feature one or more youth characters in prominent, age-appropriate roles. Plays must have two or more characters, and large and/or flexible casts (with relatively more female roles) are encouraged. Plays must be the original work of a single author, limit one entry per author.”
  • For more details: https://www.youthplays.com/userfiles/YouthPLAYSNewVoicesContestGuidelines2022.pdf
  • Age: High School Division = Students and home-schooled students enrolled at the high school level during the contest year.
  • Deadline: June 2, 2022
  • Entry Fee: None
  • Prize: First Place = $1,000 scholarship free registration and two nights’ lodging for JASNA’s upcoming Annual General Meeting (transportation to the conference is not provided), Second Place = $500 scholarship, Third Place = $250 scholarship. Winners will each receive one year of memberships in JASNA and a set of Norton Critical Editions of Jane Austen’s novels. The winning essays will also published on the JASNA website.
  • Prompt: “The 2022 Essay Contest topic relates to the theme of our upcoming Annual General Meeting: Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility.
  • Family relations loom large in this book, and Austen has more than one story to tell, with four sets of siblings and notable mothers. Essays can focus on relations between siblings or pairs of siblings, between mothers and their offspring, or perhaps on characteristics (apart from sense and sensibility) embodied by a related or unrelated pair. The essay must be 6–8 pages in length, not including the Works Cited page.”
  • For more details: https://jasna.org/programs/essay-contest
  • Age: 11–18. Junior Division = 11–14, Senior Division = 15–18.
  • Deadline: June 13, 2022
  • Entry Fee: None
  • Prize: Junior Division = $100-$1000, Senior Division = $250-$1500.
  • Prompt: “The 2022 Ocean Awareness Contest — THE FUNNY THING ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE — challenges students to learn about climate change and its impact on the ocean, and to explore new ways to communicate the urgency of the climate crisis. We are looking for innovative pieces that challenge our expectations for what climate change messaging should look like. How can you talk about climate change in a fresh way? How can you capture attention without sacrificing your message?”
  • Junior Division = Up to 3 pages (approximately 750 words).
    Senior Division = Up to 5 pages (approximately 1,250 words).
  • For more details: https://bowseat.org/programs/ocean-awareness-contest/contest-overview/
  • Age: Youth (13–18), Youth (12 & Under).
  • Deadline: July 1, 2022
  • Entry Fee: $5
  • Prize: Youth (13–18) Winner = $200, Youth (12 & Under) Winner = $200.
  • Prompt: “The awards contest is an annual series of awards to encourage poets to explore and illuminate positive visions of peace and the human spirit.”
  • You may submit up to three unpublished poems. Maximum of 30 lines per poem.
  • For more details: https://peacecontests.org/

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