2017 Essay Writing Contest

Catholic school students in grades 5 – 12 are invited to enter our annual essay contest.

The contest is open to all students in Catholic schools – parochial, private or homeschool. We hope teachers and parents will incorporate this essay contest into their lesson plans and encourage their students to participate.  

There are eight divisions:

  • For Catholic schools:
    • 5th grade Catholic school students
    • 6th grade Catholic school students
    • 7th/8th grade Catholic school students
    • High school Catholic school students
  • For Catholic homeschools:
    • 5th grade Catholic homeschoolers
    • 6th grade Catholic homeschoolers
    • 7th/8th grade Catholic homeschoolers
    • High school Catholic homeschoolers


5th Grade Students:

Choose a Catholic historical character (born before 1950) from North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico). Write about his or her life and work and why he or she was important to the Church and country. Students may choose a person who was born outside of North America, but who did their important work in North America.

6th Grade Students:

Choose a country other than your home country, that you would like to visit. Research that country’s history and write about two places of historical interest that you would like to visit if you traveled there and why.

7th and 8th Grade Students: (Choose one of these topics)

1. Choose a non-North American historical character (from Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia or South America) who lived between 300 A. D. and 1600 A.D. and relate how that person influenced the time and place in which they lived.

2. Choose an historical event that occurred between 300 A.D. and 1600 A.D. (This could be a war, a single battle in a war, a plague, the coronation of a king, the passage of a law or decree, an ecumenical council, a revolution, an invention, a birth or death, a marriage, etc. – but the event must be an historically important event). Describe the event, the key players, its outcome and how it changed history.

High School Students: (choose one of these topics)

1. The year 1618 was the beginning of the 30 Years War in Europe. Research this conflict, identify its causes, why it lasted so long and what were its results. Explain why it was such an important war in the history of Europe.

2. The year 1918 was the end of the World War I. Discuss how this war changed Europe. You may concentrate on one aspect of change – such as economics, politics, religion or culture.

3. Show how World War I lead to changes in the culture of the United States in the 1920s.

4. C. S. Lewis wrote: “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.” Explain this quotation, using examples from history.

5. C. S. Lewis wrote: “History isn’t just the story of bad people doing bad things. It’s quite as much a story of people trying to do good things. But somehow, something goes wrong.” Explain this quotation, using examples from history.

NEW GUIDELINE: Teachers may only submit 5 essays, per division, per school. While we want to have every student continue to participate and enjoy the opportunity to write and learn more about history, we are asking the teachers to select the best 5 essays for submission. We will continue to send a letter thanking every member of the class for participating. For further questions please email: contest@catholictextbookproject.com.


  • For Catholic schools and students:
    • 5th grade Catholic school – $100 to student and $400 gift certificate for the school student attends
    • 6th grade Catholic school – $100 to student and $400 gift certificate for the school student attends
    • 7th/8th grade Catholic school – $150 to student and $400 gift certificate for the school student attends
    • High school, Catholic school – $200 to student and $400 gift certificate for the school student attends
  • For Catholic homeschools and students:
    • 5th grade Catholic homeschoolers – $100 to student and choice of CTP book for student’s family
    • 6th grade Catholic homeschoolers – $100 to student and choice of CTP book for student’s family
    • 7th/8th grade Catholic homeschoolers – $150 to student and choice of CTP book for student’s family
    • High school, Catholic homeschoolers – $200 to student and choice of CTP book for student’s family
  • For all winners: Winning essays will be published on the CTP website and social media.


  • For the 5/6 divisions, essays should be at least 450 words, but no more than 1,000 words.
  • For the 7/8 divisions, essays should be at least 600 words, but no more than 1,500 words.
  • For the high school divisions, essays should be at least 800 words, but no more than 2,000 words.
  • Essays should be typed, double spaced, 11 pt in Times New Roman font.
  • If essays are e-mailed, they must be in PDF format.


  • Your writing should be in your own words. If you quote another author (either from a book or the internet), you must cite that author in a footnote or an endnote. Essays that are suspected of plagiarism will be disqualified.
  • Essays must include a bibliography or simple list of sources used.
  • Wikipedia may not be used as the primary reference material. Wikipedia is useful for an initial familiarization with a topic, but it is not considered a reliable source in academic circles. A Wikipedia article can be useful in providing reference to books and articles which can be used for further research.

An Entry Form must be filled out and attached to each essay.

Catholic School Entry Form

Homeschool Entry Form


All mailed essays must be postmarked by midnight, November 17, 2017.

All e-mailed essays must be received by midnight, November 17, 2017, EST.


Essays can be mailed via USPO to:

Catholic Textbook Project
Essay Contest
P.O. Box 1707
Powell, OH 43065 

Or they may be sent via email, attached in PDF format to: contest@catholictextbookproject.com.

Each student’s essay must be e-mailed individually and not gathered into one file.

Please contact Katherine at contest@catholictextbookproject.com with any of your questions.

Thank you to all the students who participated in this year’s contest. The judges always learn something new from the essays and enjoy the youthful enthusiasm poured into them. Here are the winners:

Winners of the Second Annual  Catholic Textbook Project History Essay Contest, and their Awards: (more…)

Online History Classes

The Catholic Textbook Project’s Christopher Zehnder, M.A., will be teaching TWO online history courses for the 2014- 2015 school year through Homeschool Connections

One will be for 7th -9th grade students, using CTP text Light to the Nations I: A History of Christian CivilizationThis course examines how Christendom – the society founded on the Catholic Church and her Faith – came to be. It looks at the cultural, intellectual, historical, and religious foundations upon which Christendom was raised. It then examines the events of the Reformation through the beginnings of the 18th century – the period when the unity of Christendom in the Catholic faith was shattered. The course is divided into two parts: Part One (first semester) begins with a brief review of history before the birth of Christ and continues to the period of the Medieval Reformation in the 11th and 12th centuries; Part Two (second semester) continues the story, from the rise of nation states in the Middle Ages to about 1750.
Light to the Nations, Part I: Development of Christian Civilization (Textbook)
The second course will be for high school students, using CTP e-book Lands of Hope & Promise: A History of North America. This course examines the history of the major civilizations of North America from the discovery of America in 1492 to the 1970s. It will examine the events, cultural movements and ideas that led to the founding of the United States and contributed to its development as a major power and influence in both North America and the world as a whole. The course also examines the development of Latin America after the 18th century by examining concurrently the history of Mexico – and thus provides a counterpoint to U.S. history by looking at how the ideas that predominated in Anglo-America worked themselves out in a very different social and cultural context. In addition to the common themes discussed in standard American history courses, this course highlights the role of the Catholic Church and the Catholic faithful in U.S. and Latin American history and how Catholics adjusted themselves to a civilization that in many respects was very different from what they had known in Europe. The course is divided into two parts: Part I (first semester) begins with Columbus’ discovery of America and proceeds to the beginning of the U.S. Civil War; Part II (second semester) continues with the Civil War and concludes with the beginnings of the contemporary world in the 1970s.

Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America (Textbook)

These are live, interactive classes with grading and earned credit. For more information and to register go here.  There is a discount for registering before August 1st and classes fill up quickly.

More Free Classical Education Downloads

CTP President
Michael Van Hecke
Catholic Textbook Project President, Michael Van Hecke and ICLE Director Dr. Andrew Seeley spoke in Philadelphia on The Blessings of a Catholic Classical Education. Listen to the 45-minute talk with 60-minute Q & A here.
Dr. Andrew Seeley

Professor Seeley gave advice to the parents of St. John Bosco School in Rochester, NY on how they as the primary educators can foster their children’s classical education. Listen to The Role of Parents in Classical Education here.

CTP comes to CHCs

If you are new to Catholic homeschooling or are curious about it, Catholic Homeschooling Conferences, or CHCs, are simply an invaluable experience.

Typically they are one or two day events held at a Catholic parish or conference center where speakers offer practical advice and vendors display curriculum materials. The speakers are often a mixture of veteran homeschooling mothers, Catholic priests, and professional educators who explain the basics of homeschooling and elaborate on some of the motivations behind doing it.

Vendors, like Catholic Textbook Project, are usually arrayed in a large area in which different Catholic curriculum providers, publishers, and retailers have tables displaying thousands of homeschooling books and products. Examining the vendor materials allows you an unrivaled opportunity to look through the pages of actual homeschooling text books and lesson plans.

Even more importantly, you get to see and meet numerous other Catholic homeschooling families; ordinary mothers and fathers just like you, who care deeply about the welfare and education of their children, and want to do what seems best for them. Getting this concrete experience with other homeschoolers can make a world of difference to a family deciding whether or not to homeschool.

Homeschooling is often hard work, and for veteran homeschoolers, the reason to come to a conference is often to be rejuvenated. Even if on an intellectual level you think homeschooling is the best, the fact is that having a once a year gathering where you can feel uplifted, encouraged, and feel connected with other homeschooling parents is often just what is needed to approach the new school year refreshed and eager.

The opportunity to shop for curriculum with the physical books and lesson plans in your hand is just a categorically different experience than trying to shop online with only a few sample pages, sometimes depending on vague book descriptions to make very important choices about your child’s education.

Look for us at the following upcoming conferences: