2022-2023 High School Essay Contest

fountain pen on paperIt is our pleasure to announce the annual
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 2022-2023 essay prompt is:

UnmaskingLaying down my mask… Missing my mask…After spending over two years wearing masks to protect ourselves and one another from a fierce disease, much of the world has either discarded mask requirements entirely or made masks optional. The prompt is inspired by the idea of unmasking, not the literal health impacts of a particular mask policy. Is unmasking purely liberating? Is it scary? Is it inevitable? Have you unmasked? Do you miss a mask? Do you keep a mask or two nearby? 

Click here to download a flyer with important contest details

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 two Garaventa Awards ($500 cash prize each) and three honorable mentions ($250 cash prize each). The authors of all five winning essays and their families will be invited to a ceremony held during an April Admissions Visitation Day celebration to receive their awards and checks at a luncheon in their honor. We also post the top two essays as podcasts, read by professional actors on iTunes and our website.

All submissions must be electronic. Please send your school’s four top essays as Word (not pdf) attachments to garaventa@up.edu by Tuesday, February 17, 2023. If you have any questions, please contact our program assistant at 503.943.7702 or garaventa@up.edu.