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Prompt: What has the 2020-2021 School Year been like for you? How has 2020-2021 challenged or changed you?
These are the two versions of the same question that we are asking for this year’s contest. This past year has changed us all, but perhaps no generation has been more affected than yours. Teenagers are experiencing their high school years trapped inside the house, with many missing milestones, such as high school graduation ceremonies, due to the raging pandemic. High school in a pandemic was not the experience that most of you had in mind, but some of you have seen positive experiences and insights that came out of it. We want to hear about your experiences, in whatever way you want to tell us about them — whether in words, images, audio, or video. The aim is essentially a challenge to all our BPA scholars to document what you’re living through and express yourself creatively on any aspect, large or small, that you think is important or interesting.
But please know that the aim of this project is to create and document the richest possible portrait of what it’s like to have been a teenager during the 2020-2021 School Year, that is, how you, our BPA scholar, have met life’s challenges in the midst of a pandemic. We are looking for original work that has a strong voice and goes beyond cliché to show or tell us something new. To get an idea of what type of work we are looking for, please take a look at some examples on the links below:
Examples of various works teenagers submitted to The New York Times on a similar contest!
Whatever you send must somehow relate to what 2020-2021 has been like for you, that is, how has it challenged or changed you. (It does NOT necessarily have to be about school.) You can also relate your work to the local, national or global news that affected our lives in 2020-2021, even if that connection is subtle. That is, you might send us a personal story — maybe about a breakup with a significant other — but if you do, it should in some way be related to the pandemic, the protests, or some other news event of this year. As long as you can explain how in your accompanying “artist’s statement,” almost anything you want to express is fine.
Please keep in mind that we’re an institution of education, so cursing and disrespecting others in any way must be strictly avoided. Also, please know that your work may be published for the whole student body to see, so keep this in mind when you submit your work.
Your work can be funny or sad, raw or polished, focused on a tiny moment last September or on an entire global movement. It’s up to you. All we ask is that it somehow answers the question, “How has this year affected me?” Below we have included many, many examples to show you the range of what you might send in.
Each participant can submit up to two pieces in any written, visual, video or audio genre you can upload digitally. You can send in two works in the same genre, or you can mix and match. For instance, you might submit …
Essays (including personal, opinion, or even informational essays)
Songs or raps (either just the lyrics, or recordings)
Interviews — or, if you’re a student journalist, reported stories
Letters, email exchanges or text messages
Photos or GIFs
Illustrations, drawings, collages or paintings
Comics or political cartoons
Podcasts or soundscapes
Graphs, charts or maps
Or … anything else that you can upload digitally to tell some part of the story of your experience of the 2020-2021 school year. (Recipes? Lists? The options are endless.)
Artist’s Statement: For each individual submission, you must fill out an “artist’s statement” of up to 400 words telling us when, where, how and why you created the piece, and how it relates to our theme of being a teenager during this extraordinary year.
You can work alone or with others — or do both. All told, however, your name should be on no more than two submissions.
The writing you send, regardless of the genre, must not be more than 450 words.
All written work must be submitted on a Google doc. All other attachments and/or links will not be considered.
Videos and audio recordings can be no longer than five minutes. (Videos and audio should be uploaded on flipgrid.com using the link provided on this posting. Just so you know, we are the only ones who can see videos or recordings you post on the flipgrid link provided. Students are not given permission to see them.)
You cannot submit anything you have already published elsewhere, including work submitted as part of a school assignment. You can, however, send in work you have previously posted on social media, if the work is your own. (Please do not send a link to the social media post itself, however, just the work.)
All written work must be double-spaced & typed using Times New Roman 12-point font and must conform to the highest standards of written English. Thus, be sure to proofread your work before submitting it.
All entries must include your name, your English teacher’s name, English course, & date.
Entries MUST be titled. (Untitled entries will not be considered.). If you write multiple poems, be sure to title each poem.
Entries must be submitted here.
Entries submitted after the deadline will not be considered.