Overview: Writing About Place 2016

Thanks to all who entered. Read about the winning schools here and watch THV blog throughout the winter and spring for samples of students’ work.

Each year THV asks students to tell us about places in the Hudson Valley that have special meaning for them. (Writing from previous years.)  Adults: please review the guidelines below, the prompts, and the submission form before discussing the contest with students. At the bottom of this page and the prompt page are additional resources to help you and your students make the most of this opportunity.

Photo by Julie Cash, Kingston City Schools.

Photo by Julie Cash, Kingston City Schools.

Who is eligible?

Any student, grades K-12, living and/or attending school in the 11-county Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area may participate.

This map delineates the area; students may write about places in the region that are not shown on the map as long as they are open to the public and not commercial establishments.


All students should:

  • Write about places they actually know.
  • Use a THV prompt. (MS and HS students: indicate the prompt selected.)
  • Choose public, non-commercial places they want to share with classmates.
  • Give all writing a title.
  • Proofread carefully.
  • Take risks in describing places and their connections to them.
  • Submit only work completed during the summer or fall of 2016.

Word limits: Grades K-4, up to 250 words; 5-8 up to 1,000 words; grades 9-12, up to 1,500 words.

Optional: students may submit one photo, drawing, collage, or other graphic clearly related to his/her writing. No student will lose points for submitting only written work.

This volume of Akin's diary covers from May-July 1864. Her entries are overwritten with edits for her published account. (Lent to the Smithsonian's Documen Gallery by National Library of Medicine. Downloaded 1/12/2015.)

Diary of Amanda Akin Stearns, civil war nurse from Dutchess County. (Lent to the Document Gallery of the Smithsonian by National Library of Medicine. Downloaded 1/12/2015.)


The deadline is midnight, Monday, November 7.  Attach work as a Word document or PDF — we will return writing or artwork pasted into the body of an e-mail.  Attach a submission form (download as a fillable PDF or as a Word doc) signed by a teacher, family member, or other adult mentor. Signatures may be scanned.

Teachers or others submitting multiple entries: please complete one form and attach a list of titles and authors. Do not submit more than three pieces about the same place. Be sure students follow the guidelines above.

Review process

Teachers, museum and historic site staff, THV’s coordinator, and representatives of NYS DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Program and the Hudson River Valley Institute at Marist College will read and comment on student work. Readers will look for evocation of place, a vivacious voice, and use of conventions appropriate to each student’s age and development. Here is the rubric they will use to score entries.


All entries are eligible for publication on THV’s blog. We may share student work with staff or volunteers at the place written about and will look for additional publishing opportunities. Submissions about places with cultural, historic, or natural significance, owned or managed by a not-for-profit or government body, and regularly open to the public are eligible for prizes.

The classes of students who place first (one each from grades K-4, 5-8, and 9-12) will receive up to $900 to help cover the cost of visiting places written about. Please encourage students to choose a place they would enjoy sharing with their classmates as we are unlikely to approve an alternate site. Family members, please confirm with the student’s teacher that this prize will be welcome. Additional prizes TBA.

Questions? E-mail Info@TeachingtheHudsonValley.org or phone Debi Duke, 845-229-9116, ext. 2035.

Prompts  Submission form   Resources  PowerPoint Plagiarism