2023-24 High School Essay Contest | University of Portland

2023-24 High School Essay Contest

fountain pen on paperWe are pleased to announce the 2023/24
Garaventa Center 
Catholic High School Essay Contest        

The Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture at the University of Portland exists to explore and deploy the fruits of faith, reason and imagination that constitute
the Catholic intellectual tradition. We are especially committed to awakening
and celebrating those gifts in young people, hence this annual essay contest, in which participants are encouraged to integrate faith, reason and the intellectual craft of writing a personal essay (i.e. this is not a fiction writing contest). 

The 2023-24 essay prompt is:

“Surprised By Joy”

Tell a true story about a time you found yourself experiencing genuine joy, even though the circumstances leading up to that moment might have seemed to call for just about any reaction EXCEPT joy.

For important contest information go to HS Essay Contest Flyer.

The most successful personal essays convey something true and provide readers with a bit of emotional “oomph.” While many people know that the world “catholic” means “universal,” it may also be helpful to note the word’s Greek roots: “Katho” + “Houlis,” which means “toward unity.” By definition, then, Catholic education strives to move learners away from fragmentation and toward wholeness and integration.

English teachers, take note: coaching students through this process contributes evidence of mastery of a number of Common Core Literacy Standards, beginning with CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1, 12.2 and 12.3.

The essay contest is open to all current juniors in a Catholic high school in Alaska, Hawai’i, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. A committee at the University will read all entries to select the top two awards ($500 cash prize each) and three honorable mentions ($250 cash prize each).

All submissions must via email. Please send your school’s four top essays as Word attachments (no PDFs) to garaventa@up.edu by Friday, February 16, 224. If you have any questions, please contact the Garaventa Center at 503.943.7702 or garaventa@up.edu.