Not the title page. The numbers must be centered at the bottom



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The Optimist International Essay contest has become very popular in Forsyth County over the past several years. This year the Sawnee-Cumming Club will be sponsoring the contest in five county schools - North Forsyth, Cornerstone School, Central Forsyth, South Forsyth and Lambert. We are thrilled to see such participation. However, it has grown to the point that I must rely on more efficient means to deliver the contest material.

In the past I have made copies of the Application form and hand delivered the essay package to the two or three participating schools. This year, with participating schools scattered across the county, I am using email to deliver the essay package.

The following are important points taken from te official essay rules.


  • The contest is open to students under age 18 as of Sept. 30, 2016.

  • Contestants must compose an original essay with limited guidance from others. Webster’s dictionary defines an essay as an analytic or interpretative literary composition. Works of fiction or poetry will not be accepted.

  • Any quotation or copyrighted material used must be identified properly.

  • Each entry must begin with a title page containing: the official topic, number of words, writer’s name, address, telephone number, name of school and date of birth.

  • At the top of page 1 should be the official topic and the number of words.

  • Each page of the essay must be numbered starting with page 1 of the essay, not the title page. The numbers must be centered at the bottom of each page.

  • Essays must be typewritten and double-spaced.

  • Essays must contain at least 700 words, but no more than 800 words. Every word of the essay is counted. This does not include the title, bibliography or footnotes. Hyphenated words count as 1 word.

  • No reference can be made that identifies the student, parents, school, community, sponsoring Optimist Club or District.

  • A completed Application form must accompany each essay. A blank Application form is attached.

We are asking each school to submit their two best essays for judging. The essay selected by the Sawnee-Cummimg club will be chosen from all essays submitted. There will be three judges working independently to select the essay they score the best. Summing the three scores will result in the overall winner. The judging criteria is:

  1. Material Organization – logical interpretation of the subject, adherence to topic: 40 points

  2. Vocabulary and Style – phrasing and continuity: 30 points

  3. Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling: 20 points

  4. Neatness: 5 points

  5. Adherence to Contest Rules – prepared in the proper format: 5 points

Penality points are:

  1. Failure to list official topic: 2 points

  2. Failure to accurately identify total number of words: 5 points

  3. Failure to type essay and double-space: 5 points

  4. Failure to stay within the 700-800 word limit: 5 points for each 25 words over/under limit

  5. Self-identification: 5 points or fraction of based on degree of identification

A correctly formatted title page looks like this:

Lead by Example: Reality or Fiction

745 words

Ima Kontestant

1234 Main St., Cumming, GA 30040

679-213-7730

School Name

May 20, 2000

The following is a correctly formatted page one. (The text is irrelevant.)

Lead by Example: Reality or Fiction

745 words

By some personal magnetism Thomas Jefferson drew men to him, persuaded them to follow, and inspired their loyalty. His style of leadership was averse to dissension and controversy. . . . .

The information above is a good start to writing a winning essay. All the rules the students and judges must follow are listed on the application. If there are any questions about the rules, the answer probably can be found on the Application. Otherwise, please contact me at the number below.

Please have your two best essays selected by January 25, 2016. I will pick them up at the school’s front desk as I have before. Over the following two weeks the judges will score the essays and we should be able to announce a winner by the first week in February.



If there are any questions or problems, please email me or call me on 679-231-7025.
Perry Downen

Sawnee-Cumming Optimist essay contest chairman


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