Student Essay Contest

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2020 Student Writing Contest


The 2020 Student Writing Contest has been postponed until Summer/Fall 2020.

In light of Virginia schools being closed for the rest of the academic year, our Virginia Women in History Student Essay Contest will be postponed. Please follow our facebook page (education @ LVA) and this page for updates!


Contest Overview

Virginia students in grades 6–12 are invited to honor outstanding women in Virginia history by participating in the Virginia Women in History student writing contest sponsored by the Library of Virginia and Encyclopedia Virginia. Four winning essays will be chosen, two from students in grades 6–8, and two from students in grades 9–12. 


The United States Constitution has been amended multiple times to guarantee the right to vote of all citizens. The 15th Amendment (1870) guaranteed the right to vote for all men, regardless of race. The 19th Amendment (1920) guaranteed women’s right to vote. The 24th Amendment (1964) ended the poll tax as a requirement to vote. The 26th Amendment (1971) guaranteed the right to vote for 18-year-olds.

 Why do people fight so hard for the right to vote? Why is it important to vote? Some have argued that the voting age should be lowered to 16. Do you think that is a good idea? Why or why not? Will you vote when you are able to do so? Why or why not?

Contest Rules

  • Submit your 400-word essay online for a chance to win an Apple ipad and $250 for your school!
  • Each entrant must be a student in grade 6-12 at a public or private high school in Virginia. Homeschoolers also may apply; the $250 school award can be applied to a homeschooler association if the winner’s family has an active, dues-paying membership.
  • There will be four winning essays: two from students in grade 6-8, and two from students in grades 9-12.
  • All entries must be original works that have not been published or submitted for publication anywhere else.
  • Entry should not exceed 400 words.
  • Entries become the property of the Library of Virginia and will not be returned.
  • The Library of Virginia reserves 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.
  • Entry must be submitted below.


  • Deadline for entries is TBA
  • Winners will be notified TBA
  • Winning essays will be posted to the Library of Virginia website 
  • Library of Virginia representatives will be available to honor each contest winner during a visit to his or her classroom in April or May 2020.


  • Winning students will receive an Apple iPad.
  • Winning students’ schools will receive a cash award of $250.

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



Virginia Women in History Student Essay Contest
(Maximum of 400 words)