Guidelines for high school essay contest revised


NSU– The Louisiana Folklife Center at Northwestern State University has revised guidelines for the 2020 Louisiana High School Essay Contest due to social distancing challenges. The 2020 Contest theme is “Remembering Louisiana.”

“Entrants may interview any member of their family or surrounding community as long as their interviewee is at least one generation older than themselves, such as, for example, their parents or guardians,” said Dr. Shane Rasmussen, director of the Louisiana Folklife Center. “As well, we encourage entrants to consider remote interviewing methods such as by phone, WebEx, etc., that enable them to converse while still practicing safe social distancing. Entrants may include information from multiple interviewees in their essays if they so choose.”

Entrants are invited to discuss how Louisiana has changed over the interviewee’s lifetime. What do they feel are the most significant changes they have experienced over their lifetime? Personal reflections and experiences are perfectly valid as part of the essay content. Essays may be in narrative form if the student chooses.

Submissions for the 12th annual Louisiana High School Essay Contest will be accepted through June 1. The essay contest is open to all Louisiana students in grades 9-12 regardless of type of school institution, including students in all types of private educational environments, as well as home schooled students.

Essays should be 1,000 – 2,500+ words, should have titles and should be typed (double spaced, 12-point font, standard margins). Entries should include a cover sheet with the student’s name, school affiliation, mailing address, phone number, e-mail address and the title of their entry. Entries may be submitted via e-mail to Dr. Shane Rasmussen,, or mailed to the Louisiana Folklife Center, NSU Box 3663, Natchitoches, LA 71497. The subject line of e-mails should be “2020 NSU Louisiana High School Essay Contest.” Prize-winning students will be notified by July 15, 2020.

The prizes for the contest winners are $150 for first place, $100 for second place and $50 for third place. In addition, essay contest winners will receive a $200 per semester NSU scholarship with a value up to $1,600 if they attend NSU for four years. This award is in addition to other scholarship awards that the student may receive from Northwestern State University. Winners must have at least a 20 ACT composite or 950 on the SAT, as well as at least a 2.0 GPA to be eligible. Essay winners need to submit proof of the award.

Winning essayists will be invited to read their paper at the 12th annual Louisiana Studies Conference held at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches on Saturday September 19. The top three winning entries will also be published in the Louisiana Folklife Journal. Submission of an entry to the Contest entails granting permission to publish the essay in the Louisiana Folklife Journal. Entries may be subject to minor revision prior to publication.