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Class of 2020 Essay Contest

In April, Tulsa Public Schools launched a class of 2020 essay contest asking students to submit an essay about either resilience or connectedness during their COVID-19 experience. Essay submissions were reviewed and scored by a panel of judges, made up of Board members, community leaders, local journalists, and education partner organizations. We are excited to announce the winners in each category.


Grand Prize of $500: Joseph Sullivan, Booker T. Washington High School

"The essay allowed me to create something meaningful while stuck at home. It fulfilled the purpose of telling the story. Reflection and realization are vital to my routine, so I took the opportunity to put my thoughts into words. This essay gave me many opportunities to reflect on family stories and traditions. I wrote the essay after revisiting “The Way to Rainy Mountain” by N. Scott Momaday. I would recommend others to take the time to make similar reflections while stuck at home."

Joseph will major in English at the University of Oklahoma this fall in hopes of attending law school after he earns his bachelor's degree.

Read his essay here.


Honorable Mention, $250: Sophie O'Riley, Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences

"I’ve always loved writing and thought that the resilience prompt would provide me an opportunity to reflect on my senior year, as well as process some of the emotions that come with the rest of the school year being cancelled. I also wanted to express some of the pride I feel as a member of the TPS Class of 2020; I consider myself lucky to have grown up around so many kind, innovative, and intelligent leaders, and I can’t wait to see what my classmates will go on to accomplish!"

Sophie will be attending Hendrix College in the fall studying creative writing and data analysis. 

Read her essay here.




Grand Prize of $500: Stella Thomas, Edison High School

"My school librarian told me about the contest because she knows I enjoy reading and writing. I am always looking for opportunities to help offset my college expenses, and it seemed like a good way to talk about an issue that a lot of teenagers are facing."

Stella plans to attend Washington University to study philosophy, neuroscience, and psychology.

Read her essay here.


Honorable Mention, $250: Ian Benway, Booker T. Washington High School

"I wanted to share my amateur philosophy about this pandemic in a cohesive, semi-poetic way. Chinese poetry is a big inspiration in my writing."

Ian plans to attend Brown University to study pure math, Chinese language, and literature.

Read his essay here.




Congratulations to all the winners!



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