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USS Constitution High School Essay Contest

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Want to sail with the ship in Boston Harbor?

Write an essay to enter to win! For the Ship’s 225th birthday, we invite high school students to feel inspired and celebrate the spirit of Constitution and how its mission can apply to their lives, in their own words.

225 years and counting, the USS Constitution has been more than “the oldest commissioned warship afloat.” It is a respected national symbol, designated as America’s “Ship of State.” Throughout its history, Constitution’s captains and crew captured their thoughts by writing about her operations and their experiences; from her launch in 1797 to fame in the War of 1812 to its first female captain in 2022, the crew understood the Ship’s role as inspirational “ambassador” and representative of our country, democracy, and freedom.

A few times a year, Constitution embarks on a cruise around Boston Harbor, where the magnificent sight of her setting sail continues to inspire people around the world. Called a “turnaround,” it is highly coveted to be one of the guests for the occasion – typically marked by a public lottery to win a spot. This year, we want to give this opportunity to a deserving high school student!

How to Enter

Write an essay on the following topic:

USS Constitution is “America’s Ship of State.” This designation honors 225 years of service as a global ambassador representing the United States as a symbol of democracy and freedom around the world. Imagine if you were a Ship of State. What would your mission be, and how could you live that out? What would this responsibility mean for how you live – leading yourself and setting an example for others?

Eligibility

This contest is open to any high-school student, grades 9-12, from a public, private, parochial, or home school.

Format

  • Writing must be no longer than 1000 words.
  • Writing must be double-spaced, in 12-point font, with one-inch margins.
  • Writing must have a title.
  • Writing must be original, with sources cited appropriately. Plagiarism will not be tolerated.

Prize

  • Three monetary prizes will be awarded:  First: $500 | Second $250 | Third $100
  • The first-place winner will also receive an invitation to a 2023 Turnaround Cruise on USS Constitution in Boston, MA.
  • Winners agree to have their writing read aloud on USS Constitution and published on the Museum website.
  • We will not impose restrictions on how to use the award or require any future commitments from the awardees.

Deadline

Writing is due by February 28, 2023.

Judging

Judges include USS Constitution crewmembers, museum staff, and community members. Writing will be evaluated using a consistent set of criteria and guidelines with scores given for the following areas:

  • Originality: Am I writing something unique? Does it have new ideas?
  • Personality: Do my voice and my personal experiences come through? Is it authentic to me?
  • History: Does my writing show an understanding of USS Constitution’s history or mission?
  • Quality of writing: Does my writing hold the reader’s interest? Does it use a range of vocabulary? Is it expressive?
  • Structure & Presentation: Does the writing flow? Is it organized well? Is it free of grammatical and spelling errors?

How to Submit

Submit your writing through the form below. File must be in PDF or Word format. Only one essay per student may be submitted.

Questions? Contact the Museum’s education department at teachered@usscm.org.

Name(Required)
Grade Level(Required)
Max. file size: 5 MB.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Need historical inspiration? Read about the 13 year-old who won USS Constitution's last essay contest, in 1925!

Be Inspired