High School Essay Writing Contest

The College of Communication and Information Sciences is now home to the To Kill a Mockingbird High School Essay Contest. This contest is an excellent opportunity to expose approximately 65 Alabama high school students and their school’s staff to The University of Alabama, while commemorating the legacy of Harper Lee and her celebrated novel. Lee is an inductee of our Communication Hall of Fame and we are excited to continue this great tradition.

Students are asked to write about why the book, now part of our state’s heritage, has had such a lasting legacy. Students who win the essay contest at their high school are invited to attend an awards ceremony on The University campus in February of each year. All the essays are archived in the Hoole Special Collections Library of The University of Alabama.

2015 Essay Prompt:

It has been over 50 years since the publication of Nelle Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and an even longer time from the era that novel presents. Since then, this country has advanced technologically, legally, and socially, but Lee’s book remains the iconic work of American fiction.

What is it in To Kill a Mockingbird that still speaks powerfully to readers today?

How to Enter:

The essay should be typed, double-spaced, and three pages (600-750 words) in length. Teachers are urged to assist the winning essay writer at their schools by editing the papers for spelling errors, errors of fact, and basic grammar. The content of the paper must come directly from the student, but teachers are asked to help the student correct clearly technical errors. Each participating school should choose a winning entry, and a monetary prize will be given to each of these winners. The statewide student winner as judged by the College of Communication and Information Sciences will receive $500 and $500 will also go to that student’s school. The deadline for submissions is 5:00pm on Friday, November 20, 2015. The winner will be announced at an awards luncheon for all participating contestants on February 5, 2016. Please refer to the entry form for further details regarding essay submissions.

For further information, please contact Litsa Rivers at the College of Communication and Information Sciences at lerivers@ua.edu.


This entry form is to be used for the winning essay from each school. Please print or type. The deadline for submissions to be received by mail or email is 5:00pm on November 20, 2015. You will receive a confirmation email acknowledging receipt of your schools entry. Contact us if you do not receive this confirmation email.

Contest Sponsors

  • University Libraries
  • The Alabama Center for the Book
  • The Division of Academic Affairs
  • College of Arts & Sciences
  • Office of Admissions
  • Alabama Heritage
  • Alabama Press Association
  • Alumni Affairs
  • UA Early College
  • College of Education
  • New College
  • Honors College