Grade 11 students at four of the Semiahmoo Peninsula’s secondary schools will challenge their literary skills by entering the Rotary Club of White Rock’s 2021 Short Essay Writing Contest.
The annual contest returns this year after being suspended due to COVID-19 in 2020.
Offered in partnership with Peace Arch News, it invites students to write opinion pieces of between 400 and 600 words, based on topics in current news articles appearing in the print or online editions of the newspaper.
Participants in the contest – judged by a panel including veteran journalists Frank Bucholtz and George Garrett – are eligible to win a top prize of $1,000, with a second prize of $500 and a third prize of $300. They also have an opportunity to see their winning words published in either a print or online edition of the paper.
But contestants will have to move quickly – deadline for submission of entries is June 30.
The schools involved this year will be Semiahmoo Secondary, Earl Marriott Secondary, Elgin Park Secondary and South Surrey White Rock Learning Centre.
Teacher co-ordinators of entries are Kelly Burwash (Semiahmoo), Beverley Shellenberg (Marriott), Jeff Johnstone (Elgin Park) and Kama Money (Learning Centre).
“Unfortunately, due to complications around COVID-19, White Rock Christian Academy and Southridge School decided not to participate this year,” said the club’s Jack Rae, who co-chairs the contest with Raj Ragogopal. “But we hope they’ll be able to take part next year.
“It’s always exciting to see what the students come up with, and we’re always surprised at how well they express their ideas,” Rae added.
“We settled on making this a contest for Grade 11 students because they’re usually around the community for another year,” he noted. “With Grade 12 students, they tend to disappear for various post-secondary opportunities by the time the winners are selected.”
Students are encouraged to consider opposing sides to their opinions in their essays, and choice of topic must be approved in advance by the English Department or administration at each entrant’s school.
The anonymous entries will be submitted by each school for judging.