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The original item was published from 1/26/2022 8:50:28 AM to 4/30/2022 12:00:05 AM.

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Posted on: January 26, 2022

[ARCHIVED] Historical Commission Sponsors Student Essay Contest

Jamestown monument

The mission of the James City County Historical Commission is to further the efforts of the County to document, commemorate, preserve, protect, and promote the rich historical heritage of James City County.  The Commission is responsible for documenting, commemorating, and preserving the historic legacy of James City County. In support of this mission, the James City County Historical Commission is 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. The Battle of Williamsburg, May 5, 1862. Summarize the Civil War Battle of Williamsburg. Discuss the significance of Fort Magruder, the roles African Americans played in the battle, and the impact of the battle on the residents of Williamsburg and James City County.
  2. Civil Rights Leaders. Name important local people in the civil rights movement in James City County. Describe their contributions and the impact those contributions have on civil rights today.
  3. Native Peoples. The Paspahegh tribe was one of the groups of indigenous people living in James City County prior to the arrival of the English in 1607. Summarize the history of the Paspahegh people and their place in the larger Powhatan paramount chiefdom. Describe the legacies of these native peoples to their descendants in Virginia today.

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
Acceptable (High)
Acceptable (Low)
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 Friday, May 27, 2022. 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: $1,500
  • Second prize: $500
  • Third prize: $250


Media Contact:
Paul Holt, Director of Community Development and Planning

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