Essay ContestOne possible activity to sponsor in conjunction with your Colonial Day is an essay contest. For many years, Colonial Day at the Capitol has held a literature contest with the theme “What it means to be an American.” Fifth-grade participants may enter works of fiction or nonfiction in prose, poetry, essay or narrative.
The essays have been limited to 400 words, handwritten, typed or computer-generated. Each student must sign an entry form verifying that his or her entry is original work.
Since up to 500 students typically have participated in Colonial Day at the Capitol, we have streamlined judging by asking schools to pre-read the essays and submit their top candidates. The limit we have used is one submission per 25 students participating in Colonial Day. You can ask a selection committee of district leaders or community volunteers to serve as judges of the contest.
The winner of the Colonial Day literature contest has been recognized during the opening ceremonies of Colonial Day and asked to read his or her winning entry. The student is alerted ahead of time so he or she can be prepared and practice for the award presentation. In the past, we have had Colonial Day special guests, such as “Thomas Jefferson," "Benjamin Franklin" and even First Lady Kim Henry announce the winner and present the award.
For Colonial Day at the Capitol, the award is a $100 savings bond and a plaque. We also take a photo of the winner and do a news release for his or her hometown newspaper.
Essay Contest Resources:
Sample Literature Contest Entry Form (RTF, 734k)
Sample News Release Announcing the winner of the Essay Contest (RTF, 25k)
Sample text for winner’s plaque (PDF, 42k)