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2023 High School Essay Contest - Tampa | Contest Rules

This is the logo for the 2023 High School Essay Contest - Commemorating the 250th Anniversary of the Boston Tea Party.



The contest is open to high school students in counties in the Tampa Division of the Middle District of Florida: Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and Sarasota. Students in the 9th through 12th grades attending public, private, parochial, or charter schools, and home-school or virtual students of equivalent grade status are invited to participate. Children, grandchildren, stepchildren, and members of the household of a federal judge, a federal court employee, or a member of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Federal Bar Association are excluded.

—Submission Deadline—

November 6, 2023, by 12:00 noon EST.

—Essay Requirements—

  1. Essays must respond to the prompt.
  2. Essays must be typed and submitted as a Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx), Portable Document Format (.pdf), or WordPerfect (.wp or .wpd) document.
  3. Essays must include citations as footnotes, endnotes, or bibliographies.
  4. Essays may not exceed 1,000 words not including citations.
  5. Essays must be the student's original work product. In submitting the essay, the student certifies that the submission represents the student's original, authored work.

—Essay Submission—

Only one essay may be submitted per student. All essays must be submitted online on or before the submission deadline. Hard-copy or late submissions will not be accepted. Please complete your essay before starting the online contest Entry Form, which includes instructions for its completion.

To submit an essay, a student must:

  1. Complete and submit the online contest Entry Form; and
  2. Upload an essay that complies with the "Essay Requirements."

—Grounds for Disqualification—

Submitting an essay that

  1. does not comply with these Contest Rules;
  2. is not the student's original, authored work;
  3. provides fake entry information;
  4. plagiarizes content; or
  5. is the product of an AI program such as ChatGPT.

Contest sponsors reserve the right to use AI detection tools in reviewing submissions. All decisions of disqualification will be final.

—Scoring of Qualifying Submissions—

The essays will be judged by lawyers and judges in the Tampa Division. Their decisions will be final.

The lawyers and judges will evaluate qualifying essays using the following criteria:

  1. Identification and explanation of a personal example of the concept, "governance without a say"
  2. Creativity in selection and explanation of personal example
  3. Analysis of Constitutional language and its application to the personal example
  4. Writing style

—Announcement of Winners—

The top ten finalists will be announced on the Middle District's website no later than November 28, 2023. Winners will be announced and prizes distributed at a special ceremony at the Sam M. Gibbons United States Courthouse on Monday, December 11, 2023, at 4:30 p.m., in Courtroom 14 B. The first place winner will be invited to shadow a Tampa Division United States District Judge at a mutually agreeable weekday and time.

—Submission of IRS Form W-9—

To comply with the Internal Revenue Code, the first and second place winners will be required to complete and provide the Court with an IRS Form W-9, Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification prior to receipt of their prize monies.

—License to Use Essays, Names, and Photographs—

Winners will be asked to submit a Work and Photo Release allowing the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida and the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Federal Bar Association to publish their essays in print or on their websites and to use their photographs in contest-related promotional materials, which may include photographs taken at the courthouse.