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 266
Galena, OH 43021 

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…)

Press Room

To arrange an interview, obtain photos, or more information, please call or email Karen Walker — by phone at 949.370.1442 or by email at: karen@catholictextbookproject.com

Click here to read the latest posts from Catholic Textbook Project.

Press Releases

10/10/17 – Year-Over-Year Aggressive Growth for Catholic Textbook Publisher

10/02/17 – Michael Van Hecke, M.Ed., Founder of Catholic Textbook Project In-Depth Interview by Catholic Business Journal

09/26/17 – Catholic Textbook Publisher Announces Fall 2017 I LOVE HISTORY History Essay Contest, Cash Prizes for Students and Schools

08/15/17 – Pamela Rains Joins Catholic Textbook Project Sales Team serving OR, WA and Canada

02/23/17 – Ginger Vance Joins Catholic Textbook Project Sales Team in Minnesota

02/06/17 – Catholic Textbook Project Posts Fall 2016 History Essay Winning Essays

02/01/17 – Catholic Textbook Project Announces Fall 2016 History Essay Contest Winners, Prizes

01/26/17 -  Teresa Chapman Joins Catholic Textbook Project Sales Team

01/19/17  -  Catholic Textbook Project Hires New VP Matt Sumers, Expands Sales Team

01/18/17  -  Catholic Textbook Project Mourns the Passing of Historian Kevin Starr

10/27/16  – Catholic Textbook Project Welcomes New Board Member Bishop Barron

09/14/16  – Third Annual Essay Contest Launched

09/03/16 – National RADIO INTERVIEW with CTP Founder Michael Van Hecke (Click below)

07/18/16 – Both CTP Founder and General Editor Featured Speakers at Two PA Conferences for Catholic Educators

06/16/16 – Catholic Textbook Project Posts Winning History Essays 2016

06/14/16 – Catholic Textbook Project Prominent at 2016 Midwest Catholic Liberal Arts Conference

05/30/16 – Announcing 2016 History Essay Winners

04/28/16 – Los Angeles Archdiocesan Superintendent Highly Recommends New CTP History Textbook for High Schools

03/23/16 – History Essay Contest Submission Deadline Extended!

03/16/16 – One Week Remains to Enter 2016 History Essay Contest

01/28/16 – 2016 History Essay Contest for Catholic Schools and Homeschools, Grades 5-12

01/14/16 – Catholic Textbook Project Announces 2016 History Essay Contest

07/09/15 – Catholic Textbook Project Announces 2015 History Essay Winners and Prizes

07/07/15 – New American History Textbook for Catholic High Schools Now in Print

06/10/15 – New Limited-Time Payment Options by Catholic Textbook Project Attracts Catholic Middle Schools

05/27/15 - Catholic Textbook Project Announces Expanded Outreach to Catholic Schools (pdf)

05/13/15 -  Vatican Taps Los Angeles Catholic Educator, Textbook Founder for Historic World Congress on Catholic Education (pdf)

04/16/15 -  Catholic Textbook Project Sponsors History Essay Contest for Students in Catholic Schools (pdf)

03/11/15 -   New HIstory Textbook Series for Catholic Schools Now in 51 Dioceses, Growing Fast (pdf)

02/25/15 -  Louise M. Davies Foundation Leads Expansion of New History Textbook Series  (pdf)

02/01/15  – History Textbook Company Extends Free Give-Away Beyond Catholic Schools Week  (pdf)

01/23/15 –   History Textbook Company Announces Free Give-Away During 2015 Catholic Schools Week  (pdf)

01/16/15  -   New History Textbook Series Gains Ground in Catholic Schools Nationwide (pdf)

06/30/04 -  New History Textbooks Take Story Approach to Teaching History (pdf)

07/22/03 –   First History Textbook for Catholic Schools in 40 years (pdf)

04/22/02 – Advance Notice of New Textbook (pdf)

In The News

05/30/15 – RADIO INTERVIEW—on EWTN’s The Catholic Business Hour, with host Dick Lyles (click to download MP3 file)

09/17/11 – “A 50-Year Breakthrough: History Textbooks for Catholic Schools”—The Official Catholic Directory 2011(pdf)

01/30/10 – RADIO INTERVIEW— on EWTN’s The Good Fight with Barbara McGuigan (Click on the XML button for “The Good Fight“)

09/10/03 – Religious Life interview with Michael van Hecke (pdf)

08/21/03 – Seeking Textbooks Fit for Catholic SchoolsEWTN (link)

08/28/03 – Lou Dobbs Tonight story - transcript from CNN.com (pdf)

08/21/03 – Zenit interview - transcript (pdf)

08/21/03 - Zenit interview at EWTN (pdf)

08/2002 – National Catholic Register (link)

04/2002 – “Fresh Tools for Teaching Old Truths” – Catholic Exchange (pdf)

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.