Essay Contest

Spring 2015 - 19th Annual Character Matters Student Essay Contest

Essay Submission Form

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. What we make of our selves, what we make of our lives, is a matter of choice -- our choice, and our responsibility.”
- Paraphrased -- Harry Potter's being counseled by the wise old headmaster, Dumbledore

Contest Divisions

  • Elementary grades 4 and 5
  • Middle grades 6 - 8
  • High School grades 9 – 12

The Center's 10 Badges of Character:  respect, responsibility, compassion, courage, perseverance, trust, honesty, gratitude, self-discipline, and citizenship.

The Character Matters Essay Contest provides a platform for insightful classroom discussion and students’ personal reflections on their experiences. This contest offers students an opportunity for conscious reflection and to engage in the Common Core State Writing Standards for  Literacy in History/Social Studies, Sciences, and Technical Subjects.  

Student Awards

  • 1st place: a $125 gift card and a plaque
  • 2nd place: a $75 gift card and a plaque
  • 3rd place: a $50 gift card and a plaque

Teacher Awards

Each participating teacher receives:

  • 50% reduction on the registration fee to attend the two-day Character Matters Conference: Thursday, June 25 and Friday, June 26, 2015
  • Certificate of participation for each student
  • Character education resource packet

The nine (9) teachers of winning students receive:

  • Full Scholarship to attend the two-day Character Matters Conference: Thursday, June 25 and Friday, June 26, 2015
  • Certificates of participation for each student
  • Character education resource packet

Suggested Timeline

January - 2015

  • When students return from winter break, plan class meetings and lessons to encourage your students to discuss character and the 10 virtues/traits.
  • Brainstorm possible topics with your students with a focus on the 10 Badges of Character and the theme “Why Character Matters.”

February - 2015

  • Work with students on the structure of their essays: introduction, supporting paragraphs, conclusion, voice of the essay, and purpose of writing their particular essay. 

  • Create an opportunity for peer editing of the students rough drafts.
  • Have students write or type their final draft that should be about 1 or 2 pages.
  • Read all of the essays submitted by your students.  Select one or two of the best essays from each class that you teach.

March - 2015

  • Electronically submit an official entry form for each essay no later than Thursday, April 2, 2015 by 9:00pm
  • Note that a student essay(s) and the entry form must be ELECTRONICALY submitted. Hardcopies are not acceptable. See Submission Directions below.

May - May 2015

  • Teachers of 2015 student winners will be notified by email, and will inform the student(s) that he/she has been selected for the award.
  • Certificates of Participation will be mailed to all teachers for distribution to students in their classes who entered the contest.
  • In consultation with you, the winning teacher, the CDC staff will deliver the teacher and student awards to the school with a request that the teacher and or principal determine the best venue for presenting the award to the winning student.

Submission Directions

  1. Select one or two student essays for submission.
  2. Send an entry form and the student's essay online
  3. Keep a copy of the students' essays and the forms for your records.
  4. Essays/entry form should be emailed no later than Thursday, April 2, 2015 by 9:00 p.m.


CDC Staff:, (619) 260-2250