Zócalo’s High School Essay Contest


Zócalo Public Square prides itself on working to enhance our understanding of community – the forces that strengthen or undermine human connectedness and social cohesion. We’re seeking fresh ideas from Los Angeles area high school seniors in response to the question: What is the most powerful way to make your community stronger? We’re asking for no more than 1,000 words to be sent to essays@zocalopublicsquare.org by May 24, 2012.  Full details follow below.

Rodney Savannah won first prize in 2011 with a powerful essay about improving his Crenshaw neighborhood.


Current high school seniors under the age of 19 and enrolled in Los Angeles Unified School District high schools are welcome to enter the essay contest.

Essay Guidelines

Essays must answer the question, “What is the most powerful way to make your community stronger?”
Essays must be no longer than 1,000 words.
Essays must have only one author.
Essays must be submitted by May 24, 2012 as Word document attachments to essays@zocalopublicsquare.org.
Essays must include the telephone number, email address, mailing address, and school affiliation of the entrant.
Essays may be submitted by a student, a teacher, or a principal. Teachers and principals may submit multiple entries on behalf of their students, provided they include all information requested in this section.

Zócalo Public Square will judge the submitted essays on the basis of: following the essay guidelines; originality of ideas; depth of analysis; and writing style.
Judging and selection of winners is under the sole discretion of Zócalo Public Square.

The Southern California Gas Company will award scholarships to the winners in the amount of: $750 for first place; $500 for second place; and $250 for third place.
Upon notification, winners must submit a photograph of themselves to Zócalo by email.
The winners will be invited to and recognized at an awards ceremony to be held in April 2012.
Zócalo Public Square will publish the winning essays on its website, www.zocalopublicsquare.org, and reserves the right to edit the essays for grammar, length, and style.

The three winning essays become the property of Zócalo Public Square. By entering the contest, the entrant grants Zócalo the right to publish and distribute his or her essay for media and publicity purposes, along with the entrant’s name, school, and photograph, without compensation.

The Zócalo High School Essay Contest is generously sponsored by the Southern California Gas Company.

*Photo courtesy RodneyRamsey.

The Zócalo High School Essay Contest is sponsored by the Southern California Gas Company.


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