Essay Contest

2011 Guidelines

Submission Dates: October 1 through November 14, 2011

Entry Form

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Essay Contest Archives
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Note: Entries received before October 1 or postmarked after November 14 will be sent back or discarded.


This year’s themes are taken from the Bible in the book of Romans, Chapter 12. Paul, the author of the book, provides amazingly succinct and practical instructions on how to live life to the fullest.

Each contestant may submit up to two essays based on the verse from Romans 12 that coincides with their age group listed below:

Category 1 (ages 7–10):

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”—Romans 12:15

Category 2 (age 11–14):

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”—Romans 12:12

Category 3 (ages 15–19):

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, be at peace with everyone.”—Romans 12:18


Essays come in many different forms, from descriptive to compare-and-contrast to narrative, etc. For this contest, the essays are meant to present the writer’s point of view—in a sense, his argument for his opinion. But there are many different ways you could go about doing this. You could use the narrative approach and tell about a personal experience, or one from history, to demonstrate your point. You could give a couple examples of practical applications and then compare and contrast them, showing how it would work out in real life. The options are limitless!

There is no designated form given for these essays, but it is still good to be purposeful in your writing style. Take some time to research different essay styles and forms, and then decide which best suits your purpose. For a brief description of various essay forms, you can visit this Gallaudet University webpage.

We try to choose themes that leave a lot of room for imagination and interpretation, and we want you to come up with your own ideas for your essay.

You do not have to include the text of the above verses in your essay. The verses are meant to inspire whatever you wish to write. Our judges love it when students come up with something they had not thought of before.

Entrant Qualifications

Category 1: Homeschoolers ages 7 to 10 as of October 1, 2011.
Category 2: Homeschoolers ages 11 to 14 as of October 1, 2011.
Category 3: Homeschoolers ages 15 to 19 as of October 1, 2011.

For the purposes of this contest, an eligible student must have been homeschooled and received the majority of his or her education through home education during the past year.

The staff and immediate family members of HSLDA and all related entities (PRO, HSF, PHC) are not eligible to participate in contests sponsored by HSLDA or any of the related entities.

Contest Guidelines

  1. Essays must be completely the work of the student entering the contest. No assistance of other parties, including but not limited to brainstorming, editing, or proof reading, is permissible.
  2. Essays cannot be longer than 700 words.
  3. All essays must be typed double-space on white unlined paper in 12-point Times New Roman font.
  4. The student’s telephone number should be typed on the top of each page. If more than one student from a family is participating in the same category, the number should be followed by a letter to distinguish it from the other students. Example: 540-338-5600A and 540-338-5600B.
  5. The student must fill out an entry form with his or her full name, date of birth, HSLDA membership number (if applicable), address, email, and telephone number; this should be on a separate cover sheet of paper attached by a paperclip to the essay. This sheet should also include a one-sentence description of the essay’s contents and word count for the essay.
  6. Do not type or write the student’s name or any other identifying information other than the phone number on anything other than the cover page.


Essays must be mailed to:

Attn: Essay Contest
P.O. Box 3000
Purcellville, VA 20134-9000

  1. Essays must be postmarked on/before November 14, 2011.
  2. Essays from students in the same family may be mailed in the same envelope, but please include separate checks for each entry.


  1. HSLDA Member Discounted Fee per entry: $10.
  2. Regular fee per entry: $15
  3. The check must be made payable to “HSLDA” with a note of “Essay Contest” in the memo line.


  1. Essays will be evaluated by a panel of judges appointed by Home School Legal Defense Association.
  2. Essays will be judged on originality of thought, grammar, spelling, logic, clarity, writing style, and content.
  3. All decisions of the judges are final.
  4. Winners will be notified and announced on the web by mid-December.

Prizes for Each Category

Category 1 2 3
First $100 $150 $200
Second $75 $100 $150
Third $50 $50 $100
Honorable Mentions (2) $25 $25 $50


  1. Only essays sent to the above address will qualify for the contest.
  2. No essay containing any plagiarized or non-original work will be considered.
  3. By submitting an essay you:
    • Grant Home School Legal Defense Association the right to publish all or part of your submission. HSLDA may also allow other non-profit entities to publish the essays for non-commercial use.
    • Agree to all rules and the decisions of the judges and sponsors.
  4. Home School Legal Defense Association is not responsible for any lost, damaged, misdirected, delayed, mutilated, incomplete, illegible, or postage-due entries or mail.
  5. All profits from this contest will go to the Home School Foundation’s Special Needs Children Fund.

Please email contests@hslda.org with any questions.