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Wizards host their third annual essay contest for high schoolers

All entrants must be 12th graders. The winners get scholarship money and tickets to a game.

Sacramento Kings v Washington Wizards Photo by Kenny Giarla/NBAE via Getty Images

The Washington Wizards will host their third annual essay contest for 12th graders. The contest is done together with the Greater Washington Urban League.

According to a release by the team, this year’s essays will recognize the achievements of Dr. E.B. Henderson, a sports historian and teacher based in Washington, and Benjamin Banneker, a mathematician who helped make a survey that determined the original borders of Washington, DC. Given that this year’s City Edition jerseys are based off the boundary stones, it’s a fitting nod to Banneker in particular.

If you are a 12th grader reading this piece and are interested in getting a chance to win some scholarship money, here is a Q&A on the contest.

What is the prompt for the essay?

This year’s contest asks 12th graders to write an essay of 350-500 words about a community leader or organization that impacted their life and advocate for that leader or organization.

How do students participate?

If you are a 12th grader, you can participate as long as your high school is within a 75 mile radius of Washington, DC. This would include schools that are in the immediate DC and Baltimore areas. Also, schools in the Shenandoah Valley like Jefferson County, WV and Frederick County, VA as well as parts of Pennsylvania like Gettysburg fall in that 75 mile radius.

Students submit their essays through the Wizards’ site.

What do students win?

There will be 10 winners, who get scholarship money. The top 3 winners get a scholarship in the amounts of $5,000, $4,000 and $3,500, respectively. The remaining winners get a $2,500 scholarship. All winners (and students who submit an essay) get two complimentary tickets to a Wizards game.

Who won last year?

Erin Kearney, of the School Without Walls in DC, won the grand prize last year.

I need essay help. How can I get it?

Unfortunately, I can’t write the essay for you. You can always ask a friend or a teacher to help you brainstorm ideas.

At least in Loudoun County, VA, where I live (and teach – that’s my day job!) there is a Writing Center at each high school. Writing Centers are largely student-run with help from the English department. In fact, it’s an elective for students who tutor. Many, if not most high schools in neighboring districts (ex. Fairfax County, Montgomery County etc.) have writing centers as well.

When is the deadline?

Feb. 1, 2024. GOOD LUCK!