WSPTA Essay Contest

This statewide essay contest explores the important and varied influencers in the lives and education of children – from the children’s perspective.

Every day children are exposed to a variety of people and each one has an opportunity to influence the path a child decides to take. Whether it is someone that sparks an interest in a new topic, helps them work through a problem, shapes the kind of person they want to become by modeling behavior, simply listens to them, or any number of other actions, this is the platform for students to share their appreciation.

Click here to visit the submission form. Please note we use the same submission form for the Essay Contest and the WSPTA Scholarship.

The application deadline was February 15th, 2024.

The student must personally know the influential person that they are writing about.

Essay Contest winners are located on the Student Showcase page.

Contest Guidelines

Essay Contest Objective

To help celebrate the people that are most important in influencing the lives of children around the state of Washington, the objective of this contest is for students of all ages and abilities to write an essay about an influential role model that has had a profound impact on their life. The influential role model must be a real person that the student has interacted with, not a fictional character. These essays, from the students’ perspectives, will serve to inspire and acknowledge amazing individuals.

Students may consider many questions when writing their essays including (but not limited to):

  • Why is this role model important in your life?
  • What life lessons, ethics, or skills have the influential role model taught you?
  • Why do you look up to this role model and appreciate having him or her in your life?
  • How would your life be different without this role model?
  • How would other kids benefit from having a similar role model in their lives?

Essay Contest Participation Guidelines

  • Open to students in K-12. Young authors get involved through their local PTA or PTSA.
  • Essays will be scored on the current state learning standards for writing and will be scored on content, organization, language/conventions, and style per the program judging form.
  • Deadline for submissions: Mid-February
  • Entries must include a completed WSPTA Essay Contest online application form. The essay must be no more than 650 words.
  • The online form is required.
  • One entry per student; multiple entries from one student will be disqualified.
  • Students may submit entries every year but may only win once in each division.
  • Each entry must be original, not be written by a parent (no edits can be made if typed into online form by parent!) or professional, has not previously won a prize, and does not infringe upon the copyright or other proprietary rights of any third party.
  • Awards will be presented in the Spring.

Participation Application Form and Resources

Online Essay Application

WSPTA Essay Application and Instructions 2023-24

The judging form is provided here for informational purposes only. Do not submit the judging form with the completed online form.

Optional: The online form is required. However, if you would like to share a drawing or picture of the essay or a picture of the subject of the essay you may send it by email to This is not a requirement.

Promotional ideas for PTAs to market this program.


Special Author

Elementary division (kindergarten – 5th grade) and

Secondary division (6th – 12th grade)

The Special Author division is an option for students with disabilities who receive services under IDEA or Section 504 to have the opportunity and accommodations they may need to participate fully in the program. The Special Author division offers modified guidelines to ensure that every student has the chance to be part of the program.

In order for a child to be covered under IDEA they have to have a disability such as a cognitive disability, autism, serious hearing impairments or be deaf, speech and language impairments, blindness and other visual troubles, physical disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, and serious emotional disturbance that impedes daily functioning.

Allowable accommodations include:

  • Use of adaptive technology.
  • A parent, teacher, or another adult may assist with typing.

Assistance MAY NOT INCLUDE the actual writing or editing of the submission.  All submissions must be solely created by the Special Author.


Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.

Grades 1-2

Write informative/explanatory texts in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement or section.

Grades 3-5

Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.

  • Introduce the topic or text they are writing about, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure that lists reasons.
  • Provide reasons that support the opinion.
  • Use linking words and phrases (e.g., because, therefore, since, for instance, in order to, in addition, consequently and specifically for example) to connect opinion and reasons.
  • Provide a concluding statement or section.

Grades 6-8

Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

  • Introduce claim(s) and organize the reasons and evidence clearly.
  • Support claim(s) with clear reasons and relevant evidence, using credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.
  • Use words, phrases, and clauses to clarify the relationships among claim(s) and reasons.
  • Establish and maintain a formal style.
  • Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from the argument presented.

Grades 9-12

Write narratives to develop real experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

  • Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
  • Use a variety of techniques to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole.
  • Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters.
  • Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on what is experienced, observed, or resolved over the course of the narrative.