Richmond Times Dispatch Essay Contest

The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Virginia Women in History Essay Contest, cosponsored by the Library of Virginia and Encyclopedia Virginia, a publication of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Ines King, founder and artistic director of the Latin Ballet of Virginia, was the inspiration for the contest questions. King refers to herself and her company as “ambassadors of dance and culture,” because along with dance technique, they also teach its history as well as the culture of Latin America. In addition, King has developed educational programs to teach students Spanish and English through dance and to use dance as therapy for children with special needs. King’s work has brought access to the arts to many low-income families.

Essay entrants were asked to consider these questions after reading about King and her work. How does Ana Ines King’s story inspire you? What are you passionate about, and what does that tell others about you? Do you know of someone who, like Ana Ines King, uses his or her interests and enthusiasm to make your community a better place? Describe the person and how he or she serves others in your community.

In the grade 6–8 division, the winners were Clair Dickinson, a 6th grader at Moody Middle School in Henrico County, who wrote about her grandmother and Isabella Kates, a 6th grader at Albert Hill Middle School in Richmond, who wrote about Mrs. Siddall, a special needs teacher.


In the grade 9–12 division, the winners were Evelyn Garey, a 9th grader at Western Albemarle High School in Albemarle County, who wrote about Allie Haddix, a youth services librarian at the Crozet Library, and Nichole Rychagov, a 9th grader at Cape Henry Collegiate on Virginia Beach, who wrote about Ina Yakubeika, a music teacher.

The four winners each won a Kindle Fire and $250 for their schools. The winning essays will be posted on the Library’s website.

The 2016 Virginia Women in History program culminates on March 31 with an inspiring program recognizing the honorees. The evening begins with a reception at 5:30 PM, followed at 6:15 PM by an awards ceremony hosted by May-Lily Lee. The reception and program are free and open to the public. For more information, call (804) 692-3592.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch is the media sponsor for the 2016 Virginia Women in History program. The Virginia Business and Professional Women’s Foundation Fund sponsors the Business Leadership Award and programming for Virginia Women in History. To learn more about the program, visit

Virginia Women in History
2018 Student Writing Contest

Contest Overview

Virginia students in grades 6–12 are invited to honor outstanding women in Virginia history by participating in the Virginia Women in History student writing contest sponsored by the Library of Virginia and Encyclopedia Virginia. Four winning essays will be chosen, two from students in grades 6–8, and two from students in grades 9–12.


Growing up in rural Kentucky, Barbara Kingsolver loved to tell stories. She became a science writer and journalist after earning degrees in biology, but in 1987 she set her sights on fiction. Her 1988 book The Bean Trees accelerated a highly acclaimed career spanning books, essays, and articles. Her 1998 novel The Poisonwood Bible was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded Kingsolver a National Humanities Medal in 2000 for her advocacy of human rights and the environment through her fiction. She even created and funded her own award, the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.

Writers like Barbara Kingsolver believe in the power of stories and literature to raise awareness and bring about social change. What is the most inspirational or important book you've read? How did it affect you? Did it change your perspective or spark you to take action on a particular issue? In what way?

Contest Rules

Submit your 400-word essay by Tuesday, March 6, 2018, for a chance to win a Kindle Fire and $250 for your school!

  • Entries must be submitted online to
  • Each entrant must be a student in grade 6–12 at a public or private school in Virginia. Homeschoolers may also apply; the $250 school award can be applied to a homeschooler association if the winner's family has an active, dues-paying membership.
  • There will be four winning essays: two from students in grades 6–8, and two from students in grades 9–12.
  • All entries must be original works that have not been published or submitted for publication anywhere else.
  • Entry should not exceed 400 words.
  • Entries become the property of the Library of Virginia and will not be returned.
  • The Library of Virginia reserves the right to use the winners' names and entries for promotional purposes in all forms of media without notice, review, approval, or compensation, except where prohibited by law.


  • Deadline for entries is Tuesday, March 6, 2018.
  • Winners will be notified by March 14, 2018.
  • Winning essays will be posted to the Library of Virginia website on March 19, 2018.
  • Awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, March 22, 2018, in Richmond.


  • Winning students will receive a Kindle Fire.
  • Winning students' schools will receive a cash award of $250.

Judging Criteria


Reflection of careful and thorough thought


Questions answered and main idea clearly articulated


Relevant, quality details about important thoughts and concepts


Essay flows well and shows good word choice and structure


Correct use of grammar, spelling, and punctuation

Questions? Please call 804-692-3999 or e-mail

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