Essay Experience From Learning

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Students can enter either contest or both, and are welcome to submit work on the same theme or topic for both.

Teachers from different disciplines — Art and English, for instance — might consider working cross-curricularly to help guide submissions.

Tell us a short, powerful, true story.• Remember: This is not an invitation to give us your opinion on a topic you’re passionate about — we have a contest for that later in the year.

Instead, your challenge is to tell a meaningful and interesting story — something with a beginning, middle and end.

In fact, over the years there have been columns dedicated to personal narratives on themes from love and family to life on campus, how we relate to animals, living with disabilities and navigating anxiety.

For this new contest, our main inspiration is the long-running New York Times Magazine Lives column.

Because you’re telling a story rather than, say, simply reflecting on your feelings about a topic, there should be a conflict of some kind — an obstacle, problem or tension — that is resolved in some way.• Keep in mind, however, that story can work.

It doesn’t have to be the most dramatic, life-altering thing that ever happened to you; it can, instead, be about baking brownies with your brother, or a conversation you had on Tuesday’s bus ride to school. Write it in your own real voice, with vivid descriptive language.• This is an invitation to open up and write in a way that feels natural.

As always with a new contest, we expect there will be many questions.

Please post them in the comments and we’ll answer you there, or write to us at [email protected]


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