Eighth Grade Creative Writing Contest

Since 1979, the Respect Life Apostolate has sponsored an annual writing competition for 8th grade students planning to attend a Catholic high school or accredited Catholic home school program. (Catholic students entering a public high school are also encouraged to enter as they're still eligible for finalist, Steubenville youth conference, and pro-life T-shirt contest recognition and prizes).

About the Contest

Students write about the virtue of chastity and how this virtue leads to a healthy, happy, and holy life which helps prevent abortion. The RLA feels it is very important for young people to understand this virtue, especially in light of the often casual attitude toward sexual relationships in our society today.

Each year, the Archdiocese of St. Louis receives approximately 1,000 entries from students from Catholic day schools, PRS programs, and Catholic home schools. Finalists and scholarship winners are honored at a spring awards ceremony with Archbishop Robert Carlson or his representative.

The contest opens each year in January. Applications and guidelines are available after that time from your pastor's office, Catholic school principal, Parish School of Religion director, Catholic Home School association/co-op, or by contacting the archdiocese at [email protected] or 314-792-7560.

Scholarship Awards

Partial, one-time scholarships are available to the winning writers:

  • Bishop Edward J. O'Donnell Scholarship
  • Mary Forrestal-Hennessey Scholarship
  • Mr. and Mrs. George Kletzker Scholarship
  • Knights of Columbus Missouri State Council Scholarship
  • Respect Life Apostolate Scholarship

The Bishop O’Donnell and Forrestal Hennessey scholarships were founded in the 1970s to encourage students to examine the facts regarding abortion and chastity, and especially how these issues impact their own lives. The Kletzker, Knights of Columbus (2014), and Respect Life Aspostolate (2020) scholarships were established more recently with the same intention.

Stuebenville Catholic Youth Conference scholarships and pro-life T-shirt design awards are also available. In addition, all scholarship winners (including the youth conference) receive complimentary tickets to the annual Respect Life Convention Keynote and Awards banquet.

2020 Scholarship Winners & Essays

Click, then scroll for the St. Louis Review article on the 2020 contest.

Click on the individual's name to read the winning essay (PDF file).

  • Bishop Edward J. O'Donnell Scholarship: John Paul Chapman (St. Clement of Rome) will be attending Chaminade College Prep
  • Mary Forrestal-Hennessey Scholarship: Joseph Volmert (St. Francis Borgia PSR) will be attending St. Francis Borgia Regional High School
  • Mr. & Mrs. George Kletzker Scholarship: Gianni Vigna (Incarnate Word) will be attending De Smet Jesuit High School
  • Knights of Columbus Missouri State Council Scholarship: Camille Raymo (St. Joseph - Cottleville) will be attending St. Dominic High School
  • Respect Life Apostolate Scholarships: Aidan Kane (Most Sacred Heart - Eureka) will be attending St. Louis University High School; and Tessa Rockafellow (St. Gerard Majella) will be attending Nerinx Hall
  • Steubenville Catholic Youth Conference Scholarships: Maeve Conboy (Holy Cross Academy, Our Lady of Providence Parish) and Ella Haefner (Queen of All Saints)
  • Pro-Life T-Shirt Design Contest Winner: Seton Regional Grade School