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Posted on: February 7, 2019

Historical Commission Sponsors Student Essay Contest

Jamestown monument

The year 2019 marks the 400th anniversary of several significant events in Virginia, and especially in Jamestown. These events had profound impacts on the shaping of American society, history and government. The James City County Historical Commission is observing these events by sponsoring an essay contest for Williamsburg-James City County high school students (grades 9-12). Students who reside in James City County or in the City of Williamsburg and attend a public or private school or are home-schooled are eligible to participate.

The essay should be 1,000-1,500 words (4-6 pages, double-spaced) on one of the following topics:

  1. In 1619, the first elected legislative assembly of the New World met in Jamestown. Describe how this House of Burgesses came about, its significance at that time and how that assembly influenced American society, culture and/or government to this day.
  2. In 1619, the first recorded arrival of Africans in English North America occurred at Jamestown, signifying the beginning of slavery in what is now the United States. Describe how this event came about, how the practice of slavery grew and how this event influenced American society, culture and/or government to this day.
  3. In 1619, the first organized recruitment of English women in significant numbers arrived in Jamestown. Describe why women were actively recruited for the Jamestown settlement, how they shaped the development of Jamestown and its surrounding areas and how this event influenced American society, culture and/or government to this day. 

The paper should include citations - footnotes or endnotes plus a bibliography. The footnotes/endnotes and bibliography will not be included in the total word count. The student should use the Chicago Manual of Style for citations. The cover page, which is not included in the total word count, should include the essay title; the student’s name, address, phone number and email address; the name of the student’s school (or “home-schooled”), and the total word count (not including the title page, footnotes/endnotes and bibliography). The first page of the essay should have the essay’s title at the top. Do not include the student’s name or other personal identifying information in the main body of the essay. Pages of the essay main body should be numbered.

Scoring Rubric

Category & Max Score
Excellent
Acceptable (High)
Acceptable (Low)
Unacceptable
Factual content (10 points)Facts are highly relevant to the topic and properly cited (9-10 points)Some relevant content; points not fully developed (7-8 points)Marginally relevant facts; little supporting detail included (6 points)Cursory treatment of the topic; little or no relevant facts presented (0-5 points)
Structure, Logic and transitions (5 points)Logical progression of ideas with well-executed transitions (5 points)Logical progression of ideas but often lacks transition (4 points)Gaps in logic or no transitions (3 points)Disorganized; written as a stream of disconnected thoughts (0-2 points)
Punctuation, Spelling and presentation (5 points)Correct punctuation and spelling; correct Chicago format as specified (5 points)A few (less than 3) punctuation, spelling and format errors (4 points)Occasional (3-5) punctuation, spelling and format errors (2-3 points)Frequent (more than 5) punctuation, spelling and format errors (0 points)
Analysis: Critical and original thought, supported by examples (30 points)Central idea is well developed; clarity of purpose evident throughout; abundance of evidence of thought, analysis and/or insight; evidence and examples are specific and highly relevant (26-30 points)Central idea and clarity of purpose are generally evident throughout the essay; evidence of thought, analysis and/or insight; supporting evidence and examples are relevant (16-25 points)The central idea is expressed, but vague or too broad; some sense of purpose is maintained; some evidence of thought, analysis and/or insight; there are some examples and evidence, though general (11-15 points)Central idea and clarity of purpose are absent or incompletely expressed and maintained; little or no evidence of critical, careful thought or analysis and/or insight; few, if any, relevant examples or supporting evidence (0-10 points)


Submit Your Entry Below

Award winners will be notified by Thursday, April 18, 2019. Winners will be invited to a public meeting of the James City County Board of Supervisors for an award presentation (date to be determined).

  • First prize: $300
  • Second prize: $200
  • Third prize: $150

Media Contact:
Tori Haynes, Planner
757-253-6685, tori.haynes@jamescitycountyva.gov

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