NJCTE High School Writing Contest 2020

The New Jersey Council of Teachers of English 

invites New Jersey students in grades 9-12 to participate in its 2020 Writing Contest:

"Social Breath 2020"

Deadline: January 11, 2021


  • Poetry (one poem, 50-line max)

  • Short Story (5 page max, double-spaced)

  • Personal Essay* (5 page max, double-spaced- MUST respond to prompt 


Write a personal essay or narrative about taking a Social Breath in 2020

In 2020, we have heard a clarion call for social change. Names such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery have become familiar to all who read or listen to the news. Many columnists, politicians, and everyday citizens are calling for change. In a personal essay or narrative, consider the call for social change as you experience it. Have you actively participated? If so, how has your participation manifested itself? If not, why have you chosen another path? What other factors impact your thinking about being a responsible citizen and engaging in actions and activities that result in a socially and emotionally secure world?

Entry Criteria

  • Only New Jersey high school students (public or private) are eligible to enter

  • Students may submit a maximum of one entry in each category (i.e., one poem, one short story, and one personal essay)

  • Teachers may submit up to ten entries for their students in each genre. Surplus entries will be disqualified in order of submission date.

  • The file submitted must be anonymous. Essays, short stories, and personal essays with a name, school, or class typed on them will be disqualified.

Submission Links


1st place gold winners in poetry, short story, and personal essay: $150.00 prize money

2nd place silver winners in poetry, short story, and personal essay: $75.00 prize money

3rd place bronze winners in poetry, short story, and personal essay: $50.00 prize money

School Recognition Winners

Honorable mention and certificates of merit will be awarded virtually 

Teacher Award

Teachers who submit to the Writing Contest for the first time will receive a ticket to the spring conference and an NJCTE membership for the 2021-2022 membership year.

Questions? Contact njctewriting@gmail.com