Essay Contest 2019-2020

TOPIC: “Is Optimism the Key to Achieving the Dreams You Imagine?”

PURPOSE: This contest is sponsored by Optimist International to give young people room to develop their own views around a central idea. In addition to the opportunity for written expression, participants have the chance to win a college scholarship!

HOW TO ENTER:   Interested students should mail or email essays on the assigned topic to the DMSB Club Contest Chairperson: Janis LaVigne, 571 Willowspring Dr S, Encinitas, CA 92024 ( Entries must be emailed or postmarked on or before midnight January 31, 2020. Include a completed application form and proof of age (copy of passport or birth certificate). Direct any questions to 760-753-2389 or

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: The contest is open to students under age 19 as of October 1st of the current Optimist International Contest year (October 1 – September 30) and is not enrolled as a degree seeking student of a postsecondary institution. U.S. students attending school on a military installation outside the United States are eligible to enter in their last U.S. home of record. The District Chair will receive all entries from students living on U.S. military installations and send them to a Club in the city where the student last resided. If no Club is available, the District Chair will hold an At-Large contest for these students. An At-Large student may not have competed in an Optimist International or District contest in the same year.  Students residing in non-Districted areas where there are no Optimist Clubs are not eligible for competition.

LENGTH: 700-800 words (Title, footnotes and bibliography are not included in the final word count). Hyphenated words count as one (1) word. Words are to be counted manually.

JUDGING DEADLINES:   The deadline for students to submit essays to the Club Contest Chairperson is January 31, 2020. Please contact your District Chair for more information. The deadline for Clubs to submit their winning essay to the District Chair is February 28. Club Contest entrants will be notified of their status between March 1 and March 15. District entries are judged and submitted to the Optimist International Programs Department no later than April 15, 2020. District winners will be notified by a letter from OI between April 15 and June 1.

JUDGING THE ESSAYS: Entries will be judged by three qualified judges who are not acquainted with the writers of the essays.  Judges will have expertise in creative writing. Each entry will be assigned a number by the Essay Contest Chair. The assigned number will be placed on the title page and page 1 of the essay. The title page will then be detached and retained by the Essay Contest Chair. The judges will be given the essays bearing only the assigned numbers. Judges will not compare scores or comments on the essays being judged. Contest Chairs cannot change the judges’ scores or deductions!