Essay Contest Guidelines

Length: Essays should be at least 1,000 words but should not exceed 1,500 words (word count does not apply to the list of sources).

Content and Judging: Essays will be judged on the quality of analysis, quality of research, form, style and mechanics. All decisions of the judges are final.

Format Guidelines

  • Essays must be submitted in PDF format.
  • Use Times New Roman, 12 point, double-spaced, 1‑inch margins.
  • All submissions should be properly cited. The format of citation for this competition is MLA 8, the 8th edition of the Modern Language Association style.

General Guidelines

  • No Entry Fee: There are no fees required to enter this essay contest. It is open to all eligible participants without any cost.
  • Academic Integrity: This essay contest upholds the highest level of academic integrity. Participants are expected to adhere strictly to these standards.
  • Original Work: Each essay must be the original work of the participant. The use of AI tools for assistance in writing is strictly prohibited. Essays must reflect the participant’s own ideas, analysis, and expression.
  • Plagiarism: Plagiarism is not tolerated in any form. Any essay found to involve plagiarism will be immediately disqualified from the competition. Participants must ensure that all sources are appropriately cited and that the essay is composed of their unique thoughts and words.
  • Sole authorship required: The essay must be entirely the work of the entrant. Collaboration with others or co-authorship is not permitted. Entrants may seek advice and discuss with others, but not involved in the actual writing of the essay.
  • One Essay Submission: Participants are allowed to submit only one essay.


  • Entrant’s first name, last name and school name should be included on entry.
  • Faxed submissions will not be accepted.
  • Essay will not be accepted if it does not meet the requirements or is submitted after the submission date of 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sept. 30, 2024.
  • Winners will be announced on or about Nov. 15, 2024.

Eligibility: Students enrolled in high school in participating school districts. Any student whose immediate family (parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin) works for Clearwave Fiber is not eligible to participate.

Prizes: $1,000 to the writer of the winning essay; second place: $500. The winning students’ schools will also receive a donation of $1,000 for first place and $500 for second place.

Judging Criteria

  • All submissions will be reviewed by a judging panel of Clearwave Fiber associates.
  • Original and interesting ideas: The competition aims to motivate students to deeply reassess and contemplate the interconnections of science, society, and the global environment. Original thoughts and perspectives are greatly encouraged.
  • Quality of argument and writing: Clear writing and well-supported arguments are crucial. This means that essays should be well-structured, with each claim or argument supported by evidence or logical reasoning. Additionally, the judges will consider the style of writing, which includes language use, idea flow, and overall engagement with the topic.

Promotional Considerations

All winning entries will be published online. Winning schools’ names and students’ names will be published online and distributed to the media. By entering the contest, all students give permission to have their work and name published.