KVUUC High School Essay Contest

Open to all high school students in Kittitas County

Sponsored by the

Kittitas Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation (KVUUC)

2017 Essay topic

Extinctions are occurring at an ever-increasing pace. Describe an extinction event from the last decade and its impact on life. You may interpret extinction event broadly. Something that has occurred or may occur due for example to current environmental factors.

About the contest

KVUUC wants to increase high school students’ knowledge about and understanding of current and continuing extinction issues. This contest asks students to build a creative, persuasive essay about how extinctions are impacting life. Winners of this essay contest receive cash awards and recognition. Students can find helpful research materials and background information at Evolution – Part 3 of 7 – Extinction (PBS Documentary) [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlgnHOSEyFU].


All students enrolled in grades 9-12 in public, private and home schools within the Kittitas County, WA are eligible. Students must submit original work. The essay must be 300-500 words. Entries must be typed and double-spaced. Contestants must submit their essay via email to essay@kvuu.org as a Word attachment. Contestants should review the official rules (below) for additional important information.


Submissions accepted beginning August 1, 2017. Submission deadline is midnight September 30, 2017.

Award recognition

First place: $250 cash award, public reading and publication online

Second place: $150 cash award, public reading and publication online

Third place: $100 cash award, public reading and publication online

Honorable Mention (four awards): $25 cash award, public reading and publication online.

Finalists will be notified via email and winners will be notified via phone.  Due to the volume of submissions, non-finalists will not be notified.

Official rules

Section I – General Rules

  1. Contestants must submit their essay via email to essay@kvuu.org by midnight September 31, 2017.
  2. Essays must be submitted as a Word document.
  3. Contestants must create an original essay with limited guidance from others.
  4. KVUUC will have the right to publish, or otherwise duplicate any essay entered into the contest without payment to the author.
  5. Winners must agree to share a personal photo and to participate in an interview. This will allow KVUUC to create a bio of the winners for use on our website and with the media.

Section II – Qualifications of Contestants

  1. The contest is open to all students in grades 9-12 in public, private and home schools within Kittitas County, WA.
  2. Contestants may submit only one essay entry.
  3. Any student related to any member of KVUUC’s staff or Board is not eligible.

Section III – Contest Rules

  1. Participants must write on the official topic.
  2. Each entry must include the following biographical information at the beginning of the essay document: name, age, grade, school, city, state, email, and phone number.
  3. Essays must be typed and double-spaced. Essays must include a short title.
  4. Essays must contain at least 300 words but no more than 500 words. Every word of the essay is counted. This does not include the title, biographical information, or any footnotes (if applicable).
  5. Any quotations or copyrighted material used in the essay must be identified properly. Failure to identify non-original material will result in disqualification.
  6. If the essay incorporates facts or other verifiable details, the information should be footnoted. Wikipedia is not an acceptable source.
  7. Any protest in the conduct of the contest must be made immediately. KVUUC’s contest director will decide all protests in conformity with the contest rules. The decision of the contest director is final, and no higher appeals will be recognized.

Section IV – Judging and Timing

  1. Any essay not complying with the rules will be immediately disqualified from any further review. An essay will also be disqualified at any point in the process if facts presented prove to be false or unsupportable (e.g., if numbers are presented as facts they must be based on defensible evidence as determined by KVUUC staff and/or the judges).
  2. All compliant essays will be reviewed by an initial group of volunteer judges, staff, and volunteers using the scoring criteria described in Section V.
  3. The top 10 essays from the review in #2 will make up the Finalist Group. Judging of the Finalist Group will be completed by a panel of qualified judges drawn from topic-related education fields.
  4. Judges will not discuss or compare essays being judged until all essays have been scored.
  5. Judging of the Finalist Group will be conducted using the scoring criteria described in Section V. In the case of a tie, the essay scoring higher on the Persuasiveness score will win.

Section V – Scoring of Contest

Scoring criteria at all levels of the contest will be identical:

  1. Persuasiveness of the case made (including compelling messages, well-reasoned points): 50 points
  2. Organization and structure (including a logical interpretation of the subject, adherence to the topic): 25 points
  3. Grammar, punctuation, spelling: 15 points
  4. Vocabulary and style: 10 points