Overview: Writing About Place 2017

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 are additional resources to help you and your students make the most of this opportunity.

Learn about the 2017-18 winners.


Photo courtesy of Mary Curry.

Who is eligible?

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

This map shows the Heritage Area. Students may write about places in the Heritage Area that are not shown on the map as long as they are open to the public. We do not accept writing about commercial establishments with the exception of working farms.


Adults submitting student writing must ensure that students:

  • Write about places they actually know.
  • Use a THV prompt.
  • Choose public, non-commercial places they want to share with classmates.
  • Give all poems and essays a title.
  • Proofread carefully.
  • Take risks in describing places and their connections to them.
  • Submit only work completed during the summer or fall of 2017.

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

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


The deadline is midnight, November 10 has been extended to 9 a.m., Wednesday, November 15.  Attach each submission as an individual Word document or PDF;  writing or artwork pasted into the body of an e-mail will be returned.  Attach a submission form (download as a fill-able PDF or as a Word doc) signed by a teacher, family member, or other adult mentor. Signatures may be scanned.

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. Please review each piece to be sure it meets 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.


Walden ES third graders visited Washington’s Headquarters SHS and took a plein air painting class thanks to their classmates’ winning poems. (Photo: Nancy Phelps)

Entries meeting the guideline are eligible for prizes and 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.

One student each from an elementary, middle, and high school will be awarded first place and up to $900 for a trip to the place written about.

After the trip and upon submission of receipts or other documentation of expenses, the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area will reimburse the school or pay a transportation provider and/or site.  Additional prizes may be announced.

Payment will not be made in advance. To avoid disappointment, please confirm that your school will accept these terms. 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 your student’s teacher and/or principal that this prize will be welcome.

Submission form       Prompts       Resources      Rubric

More resources

PowerPoint: Writing About Place  (Also available as PDF.)

Writing exercises for MS and HS and ES.

Student handouts: Tips for writing about place.  Is It Plagiarism?
Reflections on the Hudson Valley: quotes about the region from artists, writers, and others.

Why Write about Place? features ideas for getting kids writing. about the Valley and its communities.

Please share contest information:  PDF designed to print four “cards” on an 8.5 x 11 page. Letter-size flyer.

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