Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Great Gatsby [student] Essay Contest: Secrets, Goals and Dreams

This year the PEN/Faulkner Writers in Schools essay contest for the Big Read - D.C. is accepting BOTH written and video essays based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Give them 3 minutes (video/digital) or 1,000 words.

The deadline is Monday, May 12th. First prize is $300 to both the best essay and best video. $100 for runners-ups in each format.

The contest is open to all high school students in grades 10-12 in Washington, D.C. public or public charter high schools.
For the contest, students are asked to write a 1,000-word essay, or produce a 3-minute video that answers one of the following questions:

Question 1: Dishonesty is an underlying theme in Gatsby: Many characters in the novel have secrets about who they really are, where they come from, who they really love, even about crimes and misdeeds they have committed. Think about secrets that you or people in your life have had. These don’t have to be terrible or upsetting secrets, just things that are kept private for whatever reason. Write about the way one secret or personal fact has changed you in some way—either forced you to learn a lesson, helped you grow to become a better person, or helped you see the world in a different light.

Question 2: Although Jay Gatsby’s life comes to a tragic end, many of his goals and dreams seem genuine and true. Look at Gatsby’s “Schedule,”in Chapter IX. Then write about self-improvement goals you have set for yourself—the goals themselves and the changes you hope will come from acting on the goals. Are there certain “resolves”or “rules” you try to live by? What are they, and how have they changed as you grow older? Be sure to write briefly about what one or some of these goals are and then how they have (or will hopefully) change you.

Contest Guidelines:
  • The contest is open to all high school students in grades 10-12 in Washington, D.C. public or public charter high schools.
  • Written essay must be typed.
  • Video essays must be burned onto a CD or DVD.
  • The contest will run from now until May 12, 2008.
  • All entries must be RECEIVED BY May 12 at 5:00 PM
  • All entries must be clearly marked with your name and specifiy which essay question you're answering.
  • Please write your name school, email address, and telephone number on a sheet of paper separate from your entry.
Mail or hand-deliver Entries to PEN/Faulkner Foundation Writers in Schools Program
ATTN: Jamilla Coleman, Coordinator
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Questions? Call 202-898-9061

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