Essay Contest Rules

Entries must be submitted no later than February 22, 2024.

All submissions will be digital again this year. Please note that submissions must be in PDF format and be void of personal information, like student’s name and school.

Participants must be in grades nine through twelve during the contest period. Students can participate if they are attending a public, home, private or parochial high school.

Student must live in Nebraska or in one of the following counties in Iowa (Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Pottawattamie, Woodbury).

Only one entry per student, per year will be accepted.

Students who have submitted an essay to this contest in previous years must write an entirely new essay to be considered for a prize in this year’s contest.

Essay must be no longer than 1500 words in length. Minimum length is 850 words. The word count does not include works cited/bibliography or citations.

Essays must include citations in the paper and in a bibliography/works cited. Sources must be cited using standard MLA format. All website citations must include a URL.

A title is required, and students will be asked to upload a PDF of their essay.

Essay must be double-spaced, page-numbered, using the Times New Roman font, at size 12.

A minimum of two, REPUTABLE sources must be cited. Not sure if a source is reputable? Ask your media specialist! This LINK may also be helpful.

Wikipedia can be a good place to start, but should not be cited in the essay and does not fulfill the minimum source requirements.

No more than five sources are recommended for the essay contest.

Neither the student’s name, nor their school, should appear on the essay (for judging purposes).

EXAMPLE CITATIONS:
HERE ARE EXAMPLES ON MLA CITATIONS, IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS PLEASE CONSULT WITH YOUR TEACHER AND VISIT THE PURDUE OWL WEBSITE.

MLA: 

Blake, Wendell. The Spy with a Wooden Leg. Little, Brown, 2018.

“The Limping Lady.” Morning Edition, NPR, 25 June 2019, www.npr.WWII.Hall.

Rudolph, Richard. “WWII’s Greatest Spy.” Newsweek, 15 Oct. 2018, pp.43-46.

Please keep a copy of the essay on your computer

ENTRY DISQUALIFIERS

Judges will strictly adhere to all rules. We reserve the right to disqualify any essay for failure to follow any of the above-mentioned rules, including:

  • Essay does not meet the minimum/maximum word requirement
  • Insufficient or incorrectly cited bibliography
  • Multiple entries per student
  • Plagiarism
  • No teacher sponsor

ESSAY JUDGING

Judges are asked to pay special attention to ideas, voice, organization and conventions. The judges for the essay contest are volunteers from the Omaha community including individuals from both the business sector and educational institutions – from diverse professional and personal backgrounds.

All qualifying essays are read and scored at least twice.

INCENTIVES AND AWARDS

Winning students will be notified in advanced, and invited to attend the May 13, 2024 Awards Ceremony at 6:30 p.m.

The most outstanding essays will be awarded the following prizes.

1st Place:     $800
2nd Place:    $550
3rd Place:     $300

Note: There are 1st, 2nd & 3rd place prizes for both 9th-10th grade and 11th-12th grade – six prizes in all.

Honorable Mentions will receive a $100 prize, and all Winners and Honorable Mentions will receive a personalized letter of achievement sent to their superintendent, principal and teacher.

TEACHER SPONSOR AWARDS

The three educators with the highest percentage of student entries making it to the second round of judging (top 20% of essays) will win recognition and prizes as well. A teacher must sponsor at least 20 essays to qualify.

First place – $250 Book store Gift Card
Second place – $150 Book store Gift Card
Third place – $100 Book store Gift Card