Annual Essay Contest

Essay Contest Theme:  Most Americans appreciate an immigrant story – perhaps that is because the United States is known as a melting pot.  The immigrant’s story is held as a precious thread of every family’s legacy.  It is unique to each family’s history in America with recurring themes of why the immigrant left, how they left their hometown, what was met in the new land and how their life manifested itself through its course and how future generations were impacted. 

In your essay, compare the immigrant story of the Greek colonists of 1768 with a family member or a friends of the family. 

Participants must be ages 13-19. 
Details: Essays received will be divided into two categories.  Those received from participants 13-15 years of age and those received from participants 16-19 years of age. 

Maximum word count: 1,000

A single essay will be selected as the winner in each category by a committee upon recommendation of three judges.  Those two winners will receive a $1,000 prize. All essayists will receive a certificate of participation.

The winning essays will also be shared in various national publications to further honor the memory of the 500 Greeks who came to America in 1768.   

All essays become property of St. Photios Shrine and can be used for various publicity purposes, always with the byline of the author.

Submit essays NO LATER THAN December 2, 2022 in PDF format via email to: Polexeni Maouris Hillier, Executive Director of St. Photios National Shrine at

The winners will be announced January 7, 2023. The Saint Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine is a living memorial to the first Greek settlers on the American continent and to all Orthodox pioneers whose love of freedom and desire for a better life for themselves and their children brought them to the New World.

Essay contest prize: $1,000

The St. Photios National Shrine 
2022 Essay Contest is made possible by the generosity of 
The Kathie D’Anna Charitable Trust.

How the Essay is Evaluated

  1. The introduction is clear, and the presentation of the thesis draws the reader into the essay.
  2. The writer develops paragraphs with points and examples relative to the thesis.
  3. The writer does not distract with improper use of grammar. Care is taken to properly use the subject, predicate, object, and direct object within the sentence.  This aids in an effective flow of ideas.             
  4. The command of language arts comes through when there is proper use of punctuation, correct spelling, proper capitalization.
  5. The writer properly cites supporting information used in the essay and documents these citations in a bibliography.                                      
  6. The essay is interesting and/or inspiring. The essay is focused and engaging.