To communicate the truths of history is an act of hope for the future.

– Daisaku Ikeda
2021 2nd Annual Edition


Historic Boulder’s Second Annual Secondary School Essay Contest is intended to showcase the writing, creative and research skills of students in the Boulder Valley Schools using essay themes drawn from Boulder history. Students are encouraged to discover how exploring Boulder’s past can deepen one’s understanding of the present and help us better plan for the future.

THE 2021 CONTEST THEME IS: Symbols matter.

Communities throughout the United States have either removed or renamed statues, monuments, and buildings in an effort to be more inclusive, to more accurately reflect history, and to elevate stories, events or persons. Boulder County is no exception. A number of local parks, buildings, and other public spaces throughout the county have been renamed and reimagined in an effort to repair or redress past harms and omissions. Recent examples include the renaming of Settler’s Park (People’s Crossing), the Boulder Municipal Building (Penfield Tate II)), Lafayette’s Rose Lueras Pool, and a number of buildings on the CU campus.

Identify a site (building, neighborhood, park, street, trail, etc.) in your community that you feel should be renamed or that has recently been renamed and present a thoughtful argument in support of renaming. You must include a thorough description of the historical significance of the site and make a case as to why you feel changing its name better reflects the history of the site.


The contest is open to all high school and middle school students in the Boulder Valley School District. Essays are to reflect individual work and are not intended to be collaborative/multi-student projects. A Boulder Valley teacher should serve as a sponsor – providing support to participating students. Sponsors should provide their name and school affiliation with each submittal. An official invitation to participate will be extended to District teachers so that they can share contest information with their students early in the school year. The submission deadline for completed essays midnight, Friday, December 17th. Essays will be scored by January 30th and winners notified in early February. An Awards Ceremony will be scheduled for late February. All submissions should be uploaded here, using the link below.


Essays should have a minimum of 1,000 words and a maximum of 1,500 words, double-spaced, with 1” margins, using 12-point font type. References and citations are required. Supporting illustrations or photographs are allowed, but not required. All essays should be proof-read by the teacher-sponsor in advance of submittal and uploaded by the student by the deadline of: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17th.


Scoring will be based on five areas (each area eligible for a maximum of five points for a possible total of 25 points): relevance to theme, organization, originality, use of critical thinking, and overall effectiveness. A panel of five judges, consisting of two members from the board of Historic Boulder, one at-large member from the community, one member from the BVSD staff and/or administration, and one member from the staff of the Boulder Public Library, will score the submissions.


Awards will be presented to the top three winners. Cash prizes of $300/$200/$100 and Certificates of Merit will be presented to each winner at a formal ceremony hosted by Historic Boulder. The winning essays will also be published in Historic Boulder’s monthly online newsletter, “Historic Happenings” and linked to the Historic Boulder website.