English department broadens scope of annual contest


Patrice Graham

This year’s Eunice McGuire contest will be open to all juniors and features a $1,880 scholarship prize.

Ethan Swinger, Assistant Editor

In an effort to be more inclusive, the English department has made several changes to the annual Eunice McGuire contest, a school-wide essay writing competition open to juniors.

The contest, named for a former English faculty member, will now be sponsored by the writer’s center, which will host year-long workshops to aid students through the process of the competition. Winners of the contest will receive a $1,880 scholarship to be applied to college.

According to Lucy Biederman, a writing specialist at the writer’s center, the revised contest will feature different criteria.

To compete in previous years, students would first have to write a timed essay, then if chosen as a finalist, they would submit an essay package that includes the timed essay and an essay written for a class. 

Dr. Biederman says that the submission process will be reorganized to broaden the scope of the contest so all juniors, even those that were not nominated, can compete. The essays written will also not be about a piece of literature, as done in the past, but on a broader identity-based topic, which she believes will give students an opportunity to reflect on their identities through writing.

 Dr. Biderman said, “We want to use this contest to give students experience and opportunity to be really, really thoughtful about writing about their identities and the communities that they belong to.”

She believes that taking part in the contest also will be beneficial in gaining confidence as a writer.

“I think by participating in it,” Dr. Biederman said, “even if you don’t win, even if you’re not a finalist, you’ll gain a lot of opportunities to become more comfortable and confident as a writer through the workshops we’ll be holding.”