To enter the Americans Against Gun Violence National High School Essay Contest, students must submit an original essay of 500 words or fewer describing their thoughts on the yearly prompt. Contestants must be high school students in good standing attending school in the United States or its territories. Students who entered high school on track to graduate in the current academic year but who graduated early are also eligible. Contestants are encouraged to access information posted on the Americans Against Gun Violence website among other resource materials, and to discuss the essay topic with teachers, parents, friends, and other mentors; however, contestants must write their essays themselves, in their own words. Contestants under the age of 18 must have the consent of a parent or legal guardian to enter the contest. Students must submit their essays and demographic information on the application to enter the contest. Essays may include a title and footnotes, but these elements are not required. Titles and footnotes do not count toward the 500-word limit. Only one essay will be considered per student.
First and second-degree relatives of Americans Against Gun Violence Board members, employees, and paid consultants are not eligible. Twelve contest winners will be selected from the essays submitted. The Americans Against Gun Violence Board of Directors will establish a panel of members to judge essays based on accuracy, originality, clarity, cohesiveness, and overall impact. Essay judges will be blinded to all student identifying information. At the time that students are notified that they’ve been chosen as contest winners, they’ll also be sent a signature form that includes the following elements: A statement that the essay submitted is the student’s own original work, a statement signed by a parent or legal guardian, if the student is under age 18, confirming that the parent or guardian approves of the student's participation in the essay contest. A statement by a school official confirming that the contestant is a high school student in good standing is also required.