Spirit Writing competition

About the Competition

The Spirit Writing competition is for students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing in grades 10-11 as of spring 2024. To participate, students can submit a writing project of up to 2,000 words based on the theme of the competition.

For 2024, Students may write a fictional story, a research paper, an autobiography--any topic they'd like. The sky's the limit!

Registration for the Spirit Writing competition opens on October 15, 2023 and students have until Friday, March 15, 2024 to submit their original written works. The winner of the competition will be selected and will receive an all-expenses paid trip to one of our summer programs and a $500 cash prize!

Teachers are encouraged to get their students to sign up. Each student may only choose one theme for their writing project submission. 

This year theme is “Free Style Writing” The four categories for your topic are: 

  • Superhero Persona – Do you have the power of imagination to create the next iconic superhero? Show NTID your storytelling abilities to craft a captivating origin story, complete with extraordinary powers, complex character development, and a compelling world to explore! If you believe you have what it takes to shape the future of the superhero genre, then "Superhero Persona" is the theme for you!
  • Euphoric Place – Do you have a memory with a special place in your heart? Or can you create a story of the perfect utopia of joy and harmony, transporting your readers to a place of pure euphoria? If you possess the power to craft a perfect world through your writing, then "Euphoric Place" is the theme for you!
  • Promoting Mental Health Awareness - In a world where the battles within our minds can often be the most challenging, words have the power to heal, inspire, and ignite change. If you have a story to share, an experience to narrate, or a message of hope and resilience to convey, NTID invites you to write a project bringing light to mental health challenges. 
  • Impact of Social Media - In an age where the digital realm is an integral part of our lives, the influence of social media cannot be overstated. NTID invites students to explore and illuminate the profound impact of digital connection on society, relationships, culture, and individual lives. If you have a story to tell or insights to share about the ever-evolving world of social media, this is the perfect theme to express your thoughts, creativity, and perspectives.

Please choose one category topic and get your ideas & words flowing!

Register Today!

Rules and Eligibility

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for the Spirit Writing Competition, students must:

  • Be deaf or hard-of-hearing
  • Be enrolled in 10th or 11th grade as of spring 2024
  • Have a parent’s or guardian’s permission to participate.
  • Have a teacher’s recommendation.
  • Submit a copy of their high school transcript.
  • Sign a statement that their work is original and no copyrighted materials are used in their submission.
  • Have appropriate permission forms, if required by their school district.

When writing your project, review which topic you want to write about. Your project must be under 2,000 words, so choose carefully!

What do I need to do?

  • Register using this entry form
  • Submit your application package, which must include ALL of the following, to a Google Drive:
    • A copy of your entry form
    • A copy of your high school transcript
    • A letter of recommendation from your teacher
    • Your written work
    • When submitting your documents to Google Drive, be sure to enable “anyone with the link can view” so our judges can see all your work
  • Send your application package to:
    • Rochester Institute of Technology
      Spirit Writing Contest
      52 Lomb Memorial Dr
      Rochester, NY 14623
    • Email to: writingcontest@rit.edu

Enter your best work today! The deadline for submitting all materials is March 15, 2024

If you have any questions or concerns, contact us:
Voice: 585-475-7695 • Videophone: 585-286-4555 • Email: writingcontest@rit.edu

Judging Criteria

  • The panel of judges reserves the right to disqualify any project due to poor quality, incompleteness, poor taste, inappropriateness of content, or concerns regarding copyright infringement in the original work.
  • The written work must be in compliance with the entry guidelines.
  • The written work must be compatible with one of the identified categories. NTID reserves the right to reject or move an entry to another category as it deems appropriate.
  • Projects will be judged using the following criteria: uniqueness/originality, structure of writing, cohesiveness, syntax, and vocabulary.


There will be up to four winners—two 10th graders and two 11th graders. The entries for the competition will be evaluated after March 15, 2024 and the winners will be selected and announced.

Winners will receive a plaque commending their work and the following prizes:

A scholarship and paid travel expenses
to one of our Summer Programs
and a $500 cash prize!

History of Spirit Writing

Formerly the National Dalgarno Essay Contest
The Spirit Writing Contest owes its existence to an earlier writing competition sponsored at RIT/NTID entitled the National Dalgarno Essay Contest. This competition was established and personally sponsored for ten years by the late Professor Emeritus Edward Scouten, and his wife Eleanor, who shared a passion for English literacy and the education of deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Professor and Mrs. Scouten originally named the essay contest after George Dalgarno, a Scottish school teacher and the inventor of the first sign language alphabet. In 1680, Dalgarno published a book in which he presented many theories about the different ways to teach language to people who were deaf. Among those theories was Dalgarno’s firm belief that deaf children could learn to understand and use written English if given the opportunity. Mr. Scouten, in his many years of teaching English at NTID, based much of his philosophy of teaching on Dalgarno’s original theories of the relationship between English, language and deafness.

Established in 2004, this endowment provides support for an internship with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, a college of the Rochester Institute of Technology. The purpose of the internship is to provide mentoring in best teaching practices to promote English literacy. Learn more about the Scouten Endowed Internship in English Literacy.

Contact Us

For more information or questions about prizes, contact us at writingcontest@rit.edu.

To submit your application package or materials for the competition, please mail to:

RIT/NTID Spirit Writing Contest
NTID Outreach & Special Projects
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
52 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, New York 14623-5604