- To enter the 2023 Americans Against Gun Violence National High School Essay Contest, students must submit an original essay of 500 words or fewer in response to the following prompt:
“Describe your thoughts about lockdown drills conducted in response to the threat of shootings on American school campuses.”
- The essay contest prompt is intentionally open-ended. Students may write about any aspect of lockdown drills and the threat of school shootings that they feel is most important. Below is a list of some specific issues, though, that students may wish to consider addressing in their essays:
- Are lockdown drills a rational response to the threat of school shootings?
- How do lockdown drills conducted in the United States compare with measures taken by other high income democratic countries to protect their children and youth from the threat of school shootings and other forms of gun violence?
- What is the psychological impact of lockdown drills on students? Do such drills make students feel more safe? Less safe?
- Should participation in lockdown drills be mandatory or voluntary for high school students?
- What definitive measures are necessary to protect American children and youth from not only becoming victims of school shootings, but to protect them from becoming victims of other forms of gun violence? What are the obstacles to the adoption of these kinds of definitive measures?
- What role can high school students play themselves in addition to – or instead of – participating in lockdown drills in order to help prevent school shootings and other forms of gun violence affecting American children and youth?
Contest Eligibility, Rules, and Online Entry Form
- Contestants must be high school students in good standing attending school in the United States or its territories.
- Students who entered high school on track to graduate in 2023 but who graduated early are also eligible.
- Americans Against Gun Violence Board members, employees, and paid consultants and their first and second degree relatives are not eligible.
- Contestants are encouraged to access information posted on the Americans Against Gun Violence website, among other resource materials, and to discuss the essay topic with teachers, parents, friends, and other mentors; but students must write their essays themselves, in their own words.
- Students who are under the age of 18 must have the consent of a parent or legal guardian to enter the contest.
- To enter the contest, students must submit their essays and demographic information via the following URL: The contest is now closed to new entries.
- Essays may include a title and footnotes, but these elements are not required. If titles and footnotes are included, they don’t count toward the 500 word limit.
- Only one essay will be considered per student. If a student submits more than one essay, the most recent submission will be the one that is considered.
- The deadline to enter the contest is 11:59 PM in the student’s own time zone on Saturday, April 15, 2023. Late entries will not be accepted unless the lateness was caused by a malfunction of the Americans Against Gun Violence online entry system.
Selection of Contest Winners
- A minimum of twelve contest winners will be selected from the essays submitted.
- The Americans Against Gun Violence Board of Directors will establish a panel of members to judge essays based on accuracy, originality, clarity, cohesiveness, and overall impact.
- Essay judges will be blinded to all student identifying information.
- Contest winners will be notified by email by Monday, May 15, 2023.
- At the time that students are notified that they’ve been chosen as contest winners, they’ll also be sent a signature form that includes the following elements:
- A statement that the essay submitted is the student’s own original work
- A statement signed by a parent or legal guardian, if the student is under age 18, confirming that the parent or guardian approves of the student’s participation in the essay contest
- A statement by a school official confirming that the contestant is a high school student in good standing or that the student entered high school on track to graduate in 2023 but graduated early
- Note: If the student’s school is not physically in session, documentation such as a student body card or transcript will be accepted in lieu of the signature of a school official as evidence that the entrant is a high school student.
- In order to receive a monetary award, students must return the signed signature forms within 30 days of being notified that they are contest winners.
Contest Awards (Total of at least $15,000)
- Upon submission of their completed signature forms, the first place winner will be sent a check for a $3,000 award; second place a $2,500 award; and third place a $2,000 award.
- Upon submission of their completed signature forms, the fourth through tenth ranked winners will each be sent $1,000 awards, and the 11th and 12th ranked winners will each be sent $250 awards.
- If any of the students chosen as one of the top 12 winners don’t submit their completed signature forms within 30 of being notified, their awards may be given to other lower ranked entrants.
- Awards will be sent by check to the home address listed on the students’ entry forms.
- Americans Against Gun Violence reserves the option of also offering additional monetary awards of $100 each to students not ranked in the top 12 if the essay contest judges feel that their essays are deserving of such awards. (In past years, up to 12 additional $100 awards have been offered.)
Publication of Essays and Release of Students’ Names and High School Affiliations
- By entering the contest, students agree to allow Americans Against Gun Violence to publish their essays in part or in whole in any way that the Board of Directors deems to be appropriate, but without the students’ names or high school affiliations.
- When the contest winners are notified that they have been chosen to receive awards, they will be provided with forms to indicate whether they would like to have their names and/or high school affiliations released in association with their essays. Americans Against Gun Violence will not publish the students’ names and/or high school affiliations without the written consent of the student, and, if the student is under 18 year of age, the consent of a parent or guardian.
- The responses to the media release forms will not in any way influence the ranking of the contest winners.
Summary of Essay Contest Timeline
- The deadline for entering the contest is 11:59 PM in the student’s own time zone on Saturday, April 15, 2023.
- The students selected as winners will be notified by Monday, May 15, 2023.
- Students chosen as contest winners must return completed signature forms within 30 days of being notified that they have been chosen as winners in order to receive their monetary awards.
- Award checks will be mailed to the winners upon receipt of their completed signature forms.
For additional information or questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (916) 668-4160.