Essay Contest

2021-2022 Sioux Valley Optimist Club Essay Contest

Topic for the 2021-2022 school year is:
“How Does an Optimistic Mindset Change My Tomorrow?”

The Sioux Valley Optimist Club contest is open to contestants in grades 9-12 and under the age of 19 as of October 1st of the current Optimist International contest year (October 1 – September 30) and who have not yet completed secondary school or its equivalent.

Interested students should submit essays on the assigned topic to the Sioux Valley Optimist Club – Here
The essays are judged at the Club level and District level. All Club submissions will be reviewed for plagiarism before forwarding to the next level.

700-800 words (Title, footnotes and bibliography are not included in the final word count). Hyphenated words count as one (1) word.

The deadline for students to submit essays to the Sioux Valley Optimist Club is February 21, 2022. The winning essay will be submitted to the District Optimist Chair by February 28th. District entries are submitted by April 15, 2022 for judging. District winner will be notified by letter from Optimist International between April 15 and June 1.

Scholarships are awarded to students:
Club Level – $250 for first place winner.
District Level – $2,500 and plaque for first place winner.

Section I -General Rules

1. The Optimist Essay Contest is divided into two levels of competition: Club and District
2. Contestants are eligible for only one Club’s essay contest during any given year. (October 1st – September 30th).
3. Contestants must enter though a local Sioux Valley Optimist Club. No individual having previously won a District Essay scholarship will be eligible to compete at any level of the competition again.
4. Contestants must compose an original essay with limited guidance from others. Works of fiction or poetry will not be accepted.
5. All District-level contests must have a minimum of 3 contestants participating.
6. Optimist International will have the right to edit, publish or otherwise duplicate any essay entered into the contest without payment to the author.
7. For the District level winners: ALL contestants at each level of the contest must provide age and identification from their birth certificate or passport before participating.

Section II – Contest Rules

  1. Participants must write on the official contest topic.
  2. Each entry must begin with a title page containing:
    topic, number of words, writer’s name, address, phone
    number, name of school and date of birth.
  3. At the top of page 1 should be the official topic and
    the number of words (penalty of 2 points for lack
    of topic and 5 points for failure to identify the total
    number of words correctly).
  4. Essays must be type-written and double-spaced.
    (Deduction of 5 points)
  5. Essays must contain at least 700 words but no more
    than 800 words. Every word of the essay is counted.
    This does not include the title, bibliography or
    footnotes. Hyphenated words count as one (1) word.
    (Deduction of 5 points for each 25 words over/under
    limit – French Essays will allow 50 words over/under
    limit for the deduction in scoring). Words are to be
    counted manually.
  6. Each page of the essay must be numbered starting
    with page 1, not the title page. The numbers must
    be centered at the bottom of each page.
  7. Any quotations or copyrighted material used in the
    essay must be identified properly. For example, use
    of a specific writer’s format (such as MLA) may be
    specified by the instructor overseeing the contest.
    Failure to identify non-original material will result in
  8. No reference can be made in the essay that identifies
    the student, parents, school, community, sponsoring
    Optimist Club or District. (Deduction of 5 points or
    fraction based on degree of identification)
  9. An essay may be written in either English.
  10. The entry must be stapled together in the upper left-hand corner. Covers of any type are not accepted.

Scoring procedures at all levels of the contest will
be identical.

  1. Material Organization (Logical interpretation of
    the subject, adherence to topic): 30 points
  2. Creativity – 10 points
  3. Vocabulary and Style (Phrasing and continuity):
    30 points
  4. Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling: 20 points
  5. Neatness: 5 points
  6. Adherence to contest rules (prepared in the
    proper format): 5 points


  1. Failure to list official topic: 2 points
  2. Failure to accurately identify total number of words:
    5 points
  3. Failure to type essay and double-space: 5 points
  4. Failure to stay within the 700-800 word
    limit: 5 points for each 25 words over/under
    limit. French essays will allow 50 words
    over/under for deduction. Words are to be
    counted manually.
  5. Self-identification: 5 points or fraction based on


  1. Club level – $250 for winner of the Essay contest. The Club
    level award may be given in the form of a cash/check prize.
  1. District level – plaque and a $2,500 college
    scholarship for the first place winner
    A. Scholarships are paid through the Optimist
    International Foundations in the United States
    and Caribbean and the Canadian Children’s
    Optimist Foundation in Canada.
    B. Scholarships awarded are for use only at a
    college, university, or trade school.
    C. All scholarships will be payable to the
    educational institution of the recipient’s choice,
    subject to the approval of Optimist
    D. All scholarships will be administered by
    Optimist International.
    E. Winners of an Optimist International
    scholarship must claim their scholarship by the
    age of 25.


Complete application HERE

For more information,

Sioux Valley Optimist Club
PO Box 2031
Sioux Falls, SD 57101