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Optomist International Essay Contest

The Essay Contest is sponsored by Optimist International to give young people the opportunity to write about their own opinions regarding the world in which they live. The approach can encompass a young person’s personal experience, the experience of their country or a more historical perspective. In additional to developing skills for written expression, participants also have the opportunity to win a college scholarship!

How to Enter

Interested students prepare an essay on the pre-assigned topic and submit it to their local Optimist Club. The essays are judged at the Club level, District level and the International level. 

Applications, official rules and a program guide are available from the Optimist International website.  The official Club Essay Contest program planning guide (Club Chair Packet) contains full instructions, forms and planning materials for organizing and conducting your Club’s Essay Contest.  The planning guide includes a copy of the entry application and official rules.  It is available on the Optimist International website at www.optimist.org/Documents/Essay_Club_Chair_16-17.pdf

A package of materials on how to plan for the Essay Contest is available on the Package Programs page of the OI website: www.optimist.org/e/member/programs5.cfm.  Here, Clubs can find useful materials that will help them organize and run their Essay Contest program. 

Eligibility: Contestants must be under the age of 18 years who have not yet graduated from high school  or equivalent.  There is no minimum age.  See the official contest rules for additional eligibility requirements.  Students attending school on military installations outside the are eligible to enter in their last home of record.  Students who have previously won an Optimist International Essay Scholarship are not eligible to compete in this competition again.

Topic: "Chasing Optimism in the Face of Challenges"

Length of Essay: The essay must be between 700 and 800 words in length.

Prizes: Club level – medallion.  Clubs are allowed to give monetary awards of up to $500 per winner for the Essay contest in addition to the official medallions. The Club level awards may be given in the form of a scholarship, savings bond or cash prize but are completely discretionary.

District level–plaque and a $2,500 college scholarship for the first-place winner.

International level – First-place:  winner’s plaque, recognition in The Optimist magazine

Key Dates

·         Clubs entries must be delivered or mailed to the District chair and be postmarked no later than February 28, 2017.  Entries must include all of the following four documents:

1.      District Essay Contest Entry Form (see Club Chair Packet)

2.      Copy of the club winner’s application form

3.      Copy of the club winner’s birth certificate

4.      A typed, double-spaced copy of the essay with cover sheet.

·         By April 15, 2017, the district winner will be named and notified and all necessary information will be sent to Optimist International for the international competition.  The first-place winner will be invited to the third quarter NC East District meeting to present his or her essay and receive his or her award.

Some Hints on Getting Essay Contest Candidates

  1. START EARLY! Most public, private and charter schools set their curriculums and select their educational projects over the summer or early in the first part of the academic year.  This requires clubs to make these contests known to the faculty and staff at or before this time. Note that the Optimist Essay Contest is recommended by both the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the American Association of School Administrators.  This endorsement can go a long way when your Club is requesting that principals and teachers offer this program to their students.
  2. Contacts for each of the public schools can be found at the NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI) web site.  The directory for DPI and school district staff and school principals is located at: 
    www.ncpublicschools.org/nceddirectory/

    A directory providing contacts for the each of the NC charter schools can be found at www.ncpublicschools.org/charterschools/schools/

    A directory providing contacts for the each of the private schools in North Carolina can be found at the NC Department of Non-Public Schools web site.  For the directory, go to www.ncdnpe.org/hhh118.aspx
  3. Many clubs have had good success in getting contest candidates through their home school organizations.  Because the families who home school their children are usually more flexible in their curriculums, they are often open to trying something new.  Check out the website for North Carolinians for Home Education at www.nche.com. Also found there is contact information for the home school support groups for individual counties.  For the name of the regional director for your area, go to the Home School Resource Guide at www.nche.com/hrg
  4. News releases are a good way to announce your upcoming contest and to recognize the winners (and publicize your Club’s efforts) after the contest.  A variety of sample news releases are available on the O.I. website.  All you have to do is fill in the blanks!  The Essay Contest news releases can be found at the following location:
    www.optimist.org/e/member/scholarships3.cfm
  5. You can inform the public of the availability of the contest through a public service announcement (PSA) on your local community radio station.  A 30-second PSA on the Essay Contest can be downloaded from the O.I. website and delivered to the station.  The  PSA is located at: www.optimist.org/e/member/marketing4.cfm
Publicize the Essay Contest
Optimist International has developed a series of news releases that Clubs and Districts can use in connection with their participation in international programs. Below are sample news releases that Clubs and Districts can use to promote their Essay Contests. Please note that the .doc version enables users to type their information into fields*, while the .pdf files are for viewing only.

Essay Contest - Prior to event (.doc)
Essay Contest - Prior to event (.pdf)
Essay Contest - After event (.doc)
Essay Contest - After event (.pdf)
District Essay Contest - After event (.doc)
District Essay Contest - After event (.pdf)

2018 
Sophia Weller was the winner of this year’s Harper Creek Optimist Club Essay Contest and was awarded with a $300 check for her accomplishments. On Thursday evening, February 22nd, she along with the second place finisher Devin Whitlock ($200 award) and third place finisher Andrew Irons ($100 award) read their essays to the club. The students were accompanied to the meeting by their family and meals were provided by our club. This year’s topic was “Can Society Function without Respect?” Nineteen essays were turned in by the deadline and the difficult job of judging all the essays was completed by club members Dr. Craig Miller, Al Miller and John Peruzze. Sophia’s essay has been turned over to the Optimist District Contest where she will have a chance to win a $2,500 college scholarship.

Pictured (L-R) is Sophia Weller, the winner of this year’s essay contest, 3rd place finisher Andrew Irons and 2nd place finisher Devin Whitlock. 

Click on the links below to read the students compositions:

2018 Optimist Essay – Weller

2018 Optimist Essay – Whitlock

2018 Optimist Essay – Irons

 

2017
Jillian Slocum was the winner of this year’s annual Harper Creek Optimist Club Essay Contest and was awarded with a $300 check for her accomplishments. On February 23rd, she along with the second place finisher Alyssa Cutter ($200 award) and third place finisher Kristen Manke ($100 award) read their essays to our club. Each student was accompanied to the meeting by their family and meals were provided by our club. This year’s topic was “Chasing Optimism in the Face of Challenges”. Thirty essays were turned in by the deadline and the difficult job of judging all the essays was completed by club members Dr. Craig Miller, Al Miller and John Peruzze. New club member and Harper Creek High School Counselor Stacy DeMoss was a very helpful liaison with the school in promoting the project and attaining some many entries. Jillian’s essay has been turned over to the Optimist District Contest where she will have a chance to win a $2,500 college scholarship.

Pictured below (L-R) and holding their checks are First Place Winner – Jillian Slocum, Third Place Finisher – Kristen Manke, Second Place Finisher – Alyssa Cutter plus the Optimist Chairperson for the event – Dr. Craig A. Miller.

Click on the links below to read the students compositions:

Essay – Jillian Slocum HCO

Essay – Alyssa Cutter HCO

Essay – Kristen Manke HCO

 

 

2016
Caitlynn Dellinger, a Harper Creek High School Senior, was the winner of our club’s Optimist International Essay Contest this year. She presented to our club along with her family and read the winning essay to our club during our general meeting on March 3rd. The topic the entrants had to write on this year was “Lead by Example: Reality or Fiction”. This was not an easy topic, but Caitlynn’s thoughts were very philosophical, organized and grammatically correct. You can read her essay by clicking on the link below. Our club awarded her $300 for her winning composition and has entered the essay into the District contest where she has a chance to win a $2,500 scholarship! Caitlynn is pictured below accepting her winnings from Dr. Craig Miller, this year’s Essay Chairperson.Click on the link below to read her composition:
Optimist-Club-Essay-Dellinger

 

2015 Contest not held.

 

2014
The Essay Contest is an Optimist International sponsored event. It is open to any youth under the age of 19 who has not graduated from high school or the equivalent. Our club held the event for the second consecutive year and local Sonoma Elementary Principal and club member Cyndi Mead chaired the project.  Our club awarded $300 to the winner of the event and $100 to both 2nd and 3rd place finishers. During our weekly meeting on April 24th two of the winners were present to read their essays.  Our club winner advanced to the District Contest with a chance to win a $2,500 scholarship! The topic for the essay this year is “How Dreams Lead to Success”.  The essay must consist of 700 to 800 words around the central topic. Pictured below (L-R) are Harper Creek Optimist Essay Contest winner Ellie Miller, 3rd place winner Jailee Keller and Optimist Chairperson Cyndi Mead.  Second place award winner, Elizabeth Young, was not present at the meeting to read her essay.

Click on the links below to read the students compositions:

Winning Essay – Ellie Miller

2nd Place Essay – Elizabeth Young

3rd Place Essay – Jailee Keller

 

2013
The Essay Contest is an Optimist International sponsored event. It is open to any youth under the age of 19 who has not graduated from high school or the equivalent. Last year (February 2013) our club held the event for the first time in a number of years; the program was a successful youth project for our club and we are planning on holding the contest annually. Our club awarded $300 to the winner of the event and prizes of lesser denomination to 2nd and 3rd places. Our club winner advanced to the District contest with a chance to win a $2,500 scholarship! The topic for the essay this year is “How Can I Help My Friends Realize Their Value?”.  The essay must consist of 700 to 800 words around the central topic. More information and specific rules will be posted on this website long before a deadline date is set for this year’s event. Pictured below (L-R) holding their monetary prize winnings are Harper Creek Optimist Essay Contest winners from 2013: Shelby Ernest, 3rd place; Kaitlyn Rau, 2nd place and winner Brooke Roberts.

Click on the links below to read the winning essays!

1st-Place-Essay-Brooke-Roberts

2nd-Place-Essay-Kaitlyn-Rau

3rd-Place-Essay-Shelby-Ernst

 

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