Our American Story

What is your American Dream? How will you shape American Democracy? We want to hear from you!

We’re calling on middle and high school students to share your vision with us.

Create your team, choose one of the ideas below as the inspiration for your project, and unleash your creativity. What you create is up to you — a video, a performance, a presentation — just be sure it is no longer than 9 minutes.

Winners in each of the three categories will receive cash prizes, and one lucky winner will receive the grand prize. In addition, the project that is chosen as the audience favorite will win a prize as well.

The contest will open on August 7, 2018, and close on November 30, 2018. 

Get started today! Learn how to enter.

About

Our American Story:

A Student Contest by American Evolution

Our American Story is inspired by the foundational events that occurred in Virginia in 1619. These events reflect stories of triumph, injustice, struggles, innovation, and success, and they indelibly influenced and continue to shape today’s America. Stories of our past challenges, inequities, and successes help us appreciate how far we have come and also inform our path forward to ensure a better future.“Our American Story” is a digital student contest (for 8th-12th grades) designed to foster creativity, cooperative learning, critical examination, and discussion among our country’s next generation of leaders. Today’s students have a crucial role to play in shaping the conversation and course of our nation’s future. We want to hear students’ unique perspectives on the themes of democracy, diversity, and opportunity. In the process, we hope they will gain a clearer vision of what America can be in the ages to come.

Guidelines

Entries must follow the below requirements:

  • Each submission must be made by a team of at least two students.
  • Each submission must be sponsored by a team leader, an adult of at least 21 years of age. The team leader must also certify that each team member is eligible to participate.
  • Each submission must be sponsored by a school – private, public or home school.
  • All students must be enrolled in an 8 – 12 grade or of those ages and home-schooled in the U.S., its territories or possessions at the time of entry (e.g., the fall 2018 semester), and be in good standing.
  • Each entrant must submit a Parental/Guardian Permission Form and Team Eligibility Form (one per team), available on the competition platform.
  • Employees, contractors, officers or judges of WHRO or American Evolution™ and their children are not eligible to enter the competition.

Types of Projects:

  • Theatre Piece (including musical)
  • Musical Performance (including song)
  • Dance Piece
  • Fiction or Non-Fiction Video
  • Documentary
  • Visual Arts (painting, drawing, sculpture, and photography, etc.)
  • Performance Art
  • Animation
  • Spoken Word
  • Multi-Media Project
  • Podcast
  • Social Media Campaign

See the Rules section for additional details.

For any questions about the submission process or guidelines, please contact Lindsey Horner at lindsey.horner@jyf.virginia.gov

Prizes

Prizes will be selected in the following categories:

Grand Prize – The grand prize of $5000 will be awarded to the winner’s affiliated school or association, and 10 iPad Mini’s will be distributed to the student team members. (One iPad Mini will be distributed per team member. If there are fewer than 10 team members, the remaining iPad Minis will be donated to the team’s affiliated school or association.)

First Place Prizes in Each Category – First place prize winners will be selected in each category theme – democracy, diversity, and opportunity. Those respective winners will be awarded $2,000 to the affiliated school or association and ten $50 Amazon gift cards will be awarded to the student team members.One $50 Amazon gift card will be distributed per team member. (If there are fewer than 10 team members, the remaining $50 Amazon gift cards will be donated to the team’s affiliated school or association.)

Honorable Mentions in each category – Two honorable mentions will be selected in each category theme – democracy, diversity, and opportunity. Those teams will be awarded $500 to the affiliated school or association.

Audience Favorite – The general audience will select an “Audience Favorite” to receive $500 for the affiliated school or association.

Judging Criteria

All projects must meet several criteria to be passed through for preliminary judging.

  • Does the project fall within the established time limit?
  • Does the project contain a bibliography or reference list?
  • Does the project contain a statement of inspiration?
  • Is the work original?
  • Does the work abide by contest rules?

Once it is determined that a project meets these criteria, it will be judged on the following points.

Content Quality:

  • How historically or factually accurate is the project?
  • Is all information in the project accurately represented?
  • Does the project contain a bibliography, reference list, or a statement of inspiration?

Creativity:

  • Is the project original and innovative?
  • How well does it draw in viewers and hold their attention?

Technical Quality:

  • What is the overall quality of the production?
  • Do the technical aspects enhance the project?

Resources

FAQ

Can entrants be from any middle or high school anywhere in the U.S.?
Yes. All student participants must be enrolled in middle or high school or the homeschool equivalent in the U.S., its territories or its possessions at the time of entry (i.e., the fall 2018 semester). Please review the Rules for more information.

When can I begin submitting my entry?
The contest will begin accepting entries on August 7, 2018.

Is there a specific grade-point average that qualifies a student to be “in good standing?”
No. We rely on your own educational institution to determine if you are in good standing.

What should I submit?
A complete entry consists of a single file video, jpeg images (in high resolution ie 1280×720 if possible), an audio file, or PDF. Your piece does not need to include credits but if it does these need to be included in the time limit. Be visually striking, edited to a high standard, and should deliver clear and understandable messaging related to your prompt. Do not include any copyright material. Please review the Guidelines for more information.

What is the length limit for video entries?  
Video entries should be no longer than 9 minutes. Please review the Guidelines for more information.

How will my video entry be submitted and in what form?
You must upload your video to the competition platform. If possible, record in HD (i.e., 1280 x 720).

Does the video have to include credits identifying the video creator and any volunteers?
No. Your video does not have to include credits.

If I include credits on my video are they included in the 9-minute limit?
Yes. The entire video should be less than 9 minutes.

Once I submit my video, can I revise it or replace it with another video prior to the contest deadline?
No. Once you submit a video to the contest it is considered a final submission and cannot be revised or replaced. However, you can save your entry on the competition platform and edit it before submitting.

What characterizes a winning entry?
Entries are scored based on creativity, content quality, and overall technical production value. Please review the Judging Criteria for more information.

Can I contribute to more than one entry?
One entry per team and an individual may only be a member of one team.

How will semifinalists and finalists be notified?
All winners will be notified via email to the team leader.

Do I need parental or guardian permission to participate?
Yes. Every student and their parent or guardian must fill out and submit a Parental /Guardian Permission Form, available on the competition platform. Please review the Rules for more information.