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SPJ/JEA High School Essay Contest

Topic

“Why is it important that we have news media that are independent of the government?”

About the award

The Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Journalism Education Association want to increase high school students’ knowledge and understanding of the importance of independent media to our lives. National winners of this essay contest receive scholarship awards.

Entry criteria

All students enrolled in grades 9-12 in U.S. public, private and home schools within the United States. Students must submit original work.

The essay should be 300-500 words. Entries may be typed or handwritten but must be double-spaced.

Entries may be submitted online as a PDF using this form, or mailed to JEA headquarters using this form.

Each submission to the High School Essay Contest must be accompanied by a $5 entry fee. Entrants submitting online must use a credit card, and entrants submitting by mail may pay by check or credit card and should indicate the preferred payment option on the entry form. Checks should be made out to the Journalism Education Association. Entries submitted without the required entry fee will be disqualified.

Send mailed entries to:

Journalism Education Association
ATTN: SPJ/JEA High School Essay Contest
105 Kedzie Hall
828 Mid-Campus Drive S
Manhattan, KS 66506

Deadline

Postmark/upload deadline: Feb. 24, 2016

Nominations accepted beginning Nov. 5, 2015

Award recognition

First Place: $1,000 scholarship
Second Place: $500 scholarship
Third Place: $300 scholarship

Scholarships are funded by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Winners will be notified via email, and the names of winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention. Winning essays will also be posted on jea.org and spj.org.

Official rules

Section I – General Rules

1. Contestants must enter through JEA headquarters.
2. Contestants must compose an original essay with limited guidance from others.
3. The Journalism Education Association and Society of Professional Journalists will have the right to edit, publish or otherwise duplicate any essay entered into the contest without payment to the author.
4. Due to the volume of entries received, only national winners will be contacted with the results.
5. The entry fee for this contest is $5 per essay.

Section II – Qualifications for Contestants

1. The contest is open to all students in grades 9-12 in public, private and home schools within the United States.
2. Contestants may submit only one essay entry during any given contest year.
3. No individual having previously won a national SPJ Essay Scholarship will be eligible to compete at any level of the competition again.

Section III – Contest Rules

1. Participants must write on the official topic.
2. Each entry must include the Contest Entry Title Page (entry form) or submit a cover page containing the same information found on the Entry Form.
3. Essays may be typewritten or legibly handwritten but must be double-spaced.
4. Essays must contain at least 300 words but no more than 500 words. Every word of the essay is counted. This does not include the title, bibliography or footnotes.
5. Any quotations or copyrighted material used in the essay must be identified properly. Failure to identify non-original material will result in disqualification.
6. Essays must be written in English.
7. Mailed entries must be stapled together in the upper left-hand corner.
8. Any protest in the conduct of the contest must be made immediately. The JEA executive director will decide all protests in conformity with the contest rules. The decision of the executive director is final, and no higher appeals will be recognized.

Section IV – Judging and Timing

1. Judging will be completed by a panel of qualified judges.
2. Judges will not discuss or compare essays being judged until all essays have been judged.
3. Only judges can assign a penalty or award points.

Section V – Scoring of Contest

Scoring procedures at all levels of the contest will be identical.
1. Material Organization (Logical interpretation of the subject, adherence to topic): 40 points
2. Vocabulary and Style (Phrasing and continuity): 30 points
3. Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling: 20 points
4. Neatness: 5 points
5. Adherence to contest rules (prepared in the proper format): 5 points

Past recipients

2015

— First Place, $1,000 Scholarship Winner: Matthew Zipf, Richard Montgomery High School, Rockville, Maryland. Read essay [PDF]
— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Philip Kim, Paramus High School, Paramus, New Jersey. Read essay [PDF]
— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Sania Chandrani, Parkview High School, Liburn, Georgia. Read essay [PDF]

2014

— First Place, $1,000 Scholarship Winner: Tianyu Lin of Milton Academy in Milton, Mass. Read essay [PDF]
— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Phoebe Fox of La Pietra Hawaii School for Girls in Honolulu, Hawaii. Read essay [PDF]
— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Jacob Bloch of Paul D. Schreiber High School in Port Washington, N.Y. Read essay [PDF]

2013

— First Place, $1,000 Scholarship Winner: Courtney Swafford of Write from the Heart in Wilmington, Del. Read essay [PDF]
— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Anran Yu of Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Ariz. Read essay [PDF]
— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Chuli Zeng of Woodbridge High School in Irvine, Calif. Read essay [PDF]

2012

— First Place, $1,000 Scholarship Winner: Hwasung (Daniel) Yoo of Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies in Richmond, Va. Read essay [PDF]
— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Niisackey Mills of South Plainfield High School in South Plainfield, N.J. Read essay [PDF]
— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Dustin Chandler of East Burke High School in Connellys Springs, N.C. Read essay [PDF]

2011

— First Place, $1,000 Scholarship Winner: Emerson Hardebeck of Timberline High School in Lacey, Wash. Read essay [PDF]
— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Shaun Moran of St. Augustine Prep School in Richland, N.J. Read essay [PDF]
— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Chris Papas of Oakton High School in Vienna, Va. Read essay [PDF]

2010

— First Place, $1,000 Scholarship Winner: Erin McDonough of Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Va.
— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Shaj Mathew of Huntingtown High School in Huntingtown, Md.
— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Xiaonan “April” Hu of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va.

2009

— First Place, $1,000 Scholarship Winner: Alix Cohen of Cypress Bay High School, Weston, Fla.
— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Victor Hollenberg of Staples High School, Westport, Conn.
— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Alyssa Patrick of Eisenhower High School, Yakima, Wash.

2008

— First Place, $1,000 Scholarship Winner: Mark Brouch, Aurora Central Catholic High School, Aurora, Ill.
— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Evan Rich, Jericho High School, Jericho, N.Y.
— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Danna Seligman, Newbury Park High School, Newbury Park, Ca.

2007

— First Place, $1,000 Scholarship Winner: David Kelly, Broomfield High School, Broomfield, Colo.
— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Dan Garon, Robbinsdale Armstrong High School, Plymouth, Minn.
— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Erin Gowdy, Bob Jones High School, Madison, Ala.

2006

— First Place, $1,000 Scholarship Winner: Angelika Zych, Vanguard High School, in Ocala, Fla.
— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Jonathan Homrighausen of Sunnyside High School in Sunnyside, Wash.
— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Amy Brooks of Clayton High School in Clayton, Mo.

2005

— First Place, $1,000 Scholarship Winner: Mindy Zhang, Robinson Secondary School, Fairfax, Va.
— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Zachory John Drisko, Green Hope High School, Cary, N.C.
— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Katie Roberts, Home schooled, Walnut Shade, Mo.

2004

— First Place, $1,000 Scholarship Winner: Heather Hamilton, Sentinel High School, Missoula, Mont.
— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Logan Oyler, Hickory High School, Chesapeake, Va.
— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Joey Muffler, Bishop Ireton High School Alexandria, VA

2002

— First Place Winner: Jonathan Ross Kaplan, Nova High School, Davie, Fla.

2000

— First Place Winner: Katie Pennock, West Henderson High School, Hendersonville, NC

1999

— First Place Winner: Darcy Colson Baxter, Lansing Central High School (near Ithaca, N.Y.)

1998

— First Place Winner: Michael Anthony Fedele III, Northwestern High School, Rock Hill, S.C.

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