Student Essay Contest

Strong Men & Women in Virginia History
2020 Student Writing Contest

See this year’s winners

Contest Overview

High school students in Virginia are invited to honor outstanding African Americans by participating in Dominion Energy and the Library of Virginia’s Strong Men & Women in Virginia History student writing contest. Four winning essays will be chosen, one from each of the four regions in the state.


Enslaved Africans were brought to the Virginia colony in 1619. During 400 years of slavery, emancipation, and the fight for civil rights, African Americans have persevered and made an impact in their communities, states, and nation. What lessons can you learn from that perseverance? Why is it important to study their struggles and triumphs, and how can you ensure that their contributions to American history and culture are not forgotten?

Contest Rules

  • Submit your 400-word essay below by midnight, Friday, November 22, 2019, for a chance to win an Apple MacBook Air and $1,000 for your school!
  • Each entrant must be a high school student at a public or private high school in Virginia. Homeschoolers also may apply; the $1,000 school award can be applied to a homeschooler association if the winner’s family has an active, dues-paying membership.
  • One winner will be selected from each of Dominion Energy’s four regional service areas (Central, Eastern, Northern and Western).
  • All entries must be original works that have not been published or submitted for publication anywhere else.
  • Entries should not exceed 400 words.
  • Entries become the property of the Library of Virginia and will not be returned.
  • The Library of Virginia and Dominion Energy reserve the right to use the winners’ names and entries for promotional purposes in all forms of media without notice, review, approval or compensation, except where prohibited by law.


  • Deadline for entries is Friday, November 22, 2019, at midnight.
  • Winners will be notified by December 13, 2019.
  • Winning essays will be posted to the websites of both the Library of Virginia ( and Dominion Energy (, keyword “strong”) websites by January 10, 2020.
  • The awards program will be held on Thursday evening, February 6, 2020, in Richmond.


  • Winning students will receive an Apple MacBook Air.
  • Winning students’ schools will receive an award of $1,000.
  • Winning students and their school representatives MUST attend the ceremony to receive their awards.
  • Dominion Energy will provide overnight accommodations for out-of-town winners and their school representatives.

Judging Criteria


Reflection of careful and thorough thought


Prompt questions answered and main idea clearly articulated


Relevant, quality details about important thoughts and concepts


Essay flows well and shows good word choice and structure


Correct use of grammar, spelling and punctuation

Student Essay Submission Form

(Maximum of 400 words)