Civics Essay Contest

Students writing together at a table

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office is proud to announce the winners of the third annual essay contest. This contest is held with hopes of encouraging students to be actively engaged citizens now and in the future. The contest, along with the Student Mock Election, is part of the office’s civic engagement program.

Students were asked to write about leadership with prompts and length requirements varying by grade level. Winners will receive a TNStars 529 College Savings Program scholarship and a trip to the State Capitol this spring. First place winners receive a $500 scholarship, with second and third place winners receiving $250 and $100 respectively

Follow the link to read the winning essay.

2018 Civics Essay Contest Winners

9 – 12th Grade:

6 – 8th Grade:

 3 – 5th Grade:

K – 2nd Grade:


The essay contest submission deadline has passed. Thank you to all who have participated in the contest.

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office concluded the third annual civics essay contest. Our goal is to encourage students to be actively engaged citizens by recognizing their important roles as citizens of the great state of Tennessee. The theme of 2018’s essay contest is leadership. Student winners will receive a TNStars 529 Program College Savings scholarship of $100, $250, or $500 in addition to a trip to the State Capitol. See below for more details.

Essay Prompts & Requirements

This year’s essay contest theme is leadership. Schools can submit up to two (2) essays per grade category for the contest.

Essays must be typed and within the word count limit. Titles and works cited (if provided) do not count towards the word count limit.


Grades 9-12: Word Count Limit: 750 words

Grades 6-8: Word Count Limit: 500 words

Grades 3-5: Word Count Limit: 350 words

Grades K-2: Word Count Limit: 100 words accompanied by a drawing. Drawings may not exceed 11” x 17” in size. Words can be incorporated into the drawing or attached separately.


How to Submit Your Essay:

Online submission is now open! CLICK HERE to submit your essay. Essays must be submitted by November 16, 2018 online as a Word document or PDF.

K-2 entries can submit their essays and drawings online, but students will have the option to mail in their drawing if preferred. If mailing in the drawing portion of the essay, please complete an online submission form and indicate that you will be mailing in the essay and/or drawing.

K-2 drawings can be mailed to the below address:

Attn: Essay Contest, Division of Elections
Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett
312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue
William R. Snodgrass Tower, 7th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243

Essays and drawings will not be returned, so please make a copy to keep for yourself.

If you have any problems submitting your essay or would like to be notified when the online submission becomes available, please contact us at or 615-741-7956.

Contest Rules

  1. Schools can submit up to two (2) essays in each grade category.
  2. Only one entry per student is allowed.
  3. Essays must be received by the Secretary of State’s office by November 16, 2018. No late entries will be accepted.
  4. Students must be enrolled in a Tennessee public, charter, private school or home school association.
  5. Students must be a Tennessee resident.
  6. The essay must be within the word count limit.
  7. The essay must be the original work of the student.
  8. Family members of Tennessee Secretary of State employees are not allowed to participate.
  9. Failure to comply with the contest rules will result in disqualification.

Judging & Prizes

First, second, and third place will be awarded in each category and decided by a panel of judges. Judges may also choose to award honorable mentions. Names and school affiliation will not be revealed to the judges during the judging process. Essays will be judged based on the following: creativity, organization and development of ideas, and response to the questions.

The winners in each grade level will win a trip to the State Capitol in the spring. In addition, students will receive a scholarship through the TNStars 529 College Savings Program.

Nationally ranked for investment performance, TNStars® is designed to give Tennessee families high quality investment options at a low cost to help them put aside money for higher education expenses. Tennesseans can invest directly with the program and money can be withdrawn tax-free from a TNStars® account as long as it is used for qualified post-secondary education expenses. For more information, click here.

Grade category winners will receive the following scholarships:

1st Place: $500

2nd Place: $250

3rd Place: $100

Winners will be announced later this year. If you have any other questions, please contact us:

(615) 741-7956

Previous Years Winners

2017 Essay Contest Winners

2016 Essay Contest Winners