(2019 Contest will open in September, 2019)

Essay Contest Fall/Winter 2018 – “WHO IS YOUR HERO? WHY?”

In collaboration with the Character Education Resource Center at the University of San Diego, the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation (FLHF) is pleased and proud to announce its annual essay contest for all public, private, and home school students in grades 6 through 8 and grades 9 through 12 in San Diego and Imperial Counties.


The purpose of this essay contest is to encourage students to develop and improve their thinking and writing skills as they address core values of the US Marine Corps and our society:  “Honor, Courage and Commitment.”  Since Marines model these three virtues and other character strengths such as hard work, perseverance, honesty, fairness, accountability and gratitude, the question for this year’s essay contest is:



Tips for Teachers

We suggest you guide your students in finding their voice and the purpose of the essay; along with writing an effective introduction, supporting paragraphs and conclusion.

Using the guidance of the famous historian, Daniel Boorstin, teachers may wish to remind students that their personal hero could be unknown and unrecognized by others.

“In our world of big names, curiously, our true heroes tend to be anonymous.  In this life of illusion and quasi-illusion, the person of solid virtues who can be admired for something more substantial than his well-knownness often proves to be the unsung hero: the teacher, the nurse, the mother, the honest cop, the hard worker at lonely, underpaid, unglamorous, unpublicized jobs.”   –Daniel Boorstin

2018 Essay Contest Winners Announced

Education Standards

This contest is offered to students and educators who wish to meet the California Department of Education mandate 235.5 (a) for character and civic education in grades 6-12 as well as Common Core Standards.

Essay Judging Criteria

There are two committees that assess essays.

A committee of retired Marines representing the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation and the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum does the initial assessment of the essays. A committee of educators representing the Character Education Resource Center ranks the finalists.

Points awarded will be based on:

  • 50% — Knowledge of the theme: The student showed a thorough knowledge of the theme in the essay.
  • 25% — Creativity and Originality of the essay: The student related the theme to her/his own experiences.
  • 25% — Clarity of writing: The student’s essay was written in an easy-to-understand format leaving the reader/judge with a clear understanding of her/his explanation of the theme.

Who May Enter This Contest?

All students who are attending a public, private, charter, faith-based or home school in San Diego and Imperial Counties.

Category 1: For students who are in grades 6-8.

Category 2: For students who are in grades 9 through 12.

Important Essay Contest Dates

The essay contest opens on September 24, 2018.

Deadline Extended due to Fires: All entries must be received by November 19, 2018 by 6:00 PM (pst)


How To Enter & Submit

Once students have completed the final copy of their essays, they should give them to their teacher. Teachers, not students, send essays to the Foundation.

All essays must be the sole, original work of the student.

  • Students in grades 6 through 8 should submit an essay of not more than 600 words.
  • Students in grade 9 through 12 should submit an essay of not more than 1000 words.The title of the essay and added footnotes do not contribute to the word count.

The teacher’s role is to select one or two of the best essays for each class that he or she teaches and to submit only those essays for consideration. Teachers who teach multiple classes are limited to two essay submissions for the classes they teach. For example, if a teacher teaches 5 classes he/she may submit 10 essays in total.

The text of the essay should be in English, in Microsoft Word or PDF format, and submitted electronically by teachers.

Student Awards

FIRST PLACE recipient will receive:           $300 & engraved plaque

SECOND PLACE recipient will receive:       $200 & engraved plaque

THIRD PLACE recipient will receive:          $100 & engraved plaque

Teacher Awards

Each of the six teachers of winning students will receive a $200 check.

Additional Information:

This contest is a joint collaboration between the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation and the University of San Diego Character Education Resource Center.

All essays become the property of The Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation (“Foundation”) with exclusive rights to use winning essays and likeness in the promotion and execution of the organization’s educational programs and activities.  Each WINNING essay will be considered for publication in the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation’s Log Book and for posting on the Foundation’s website.

Winning students and their parents/guardians may be asked to sign a photo permission form so that selected photos may appear on the Foundation web site and in other publications.

The Foundation, the Museum and the Character Education Resource Center are not responsible for lost submissions.

The Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation gratefully acknowledges the financial support of San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) and Major Glenn Ferguson (USMC-retired) that helped make this contest possible.

Questions/information: education@flyingleathernecks.org