Past Contests

Find out more about the winners of APA's High School Essay Contest and their ideas.


Winning Essay

Jason RoodJason Rood of Seattle, Washington, received a $5,000 scholarship to the college of his choice and complimentary attendance to one American Planning Association National Planning Conference over the next four years. This year's winner was selected from more than 100 submissions.

Jason, a senior at Garfield High School in Seattle, argues in his essay that the link between the Green movement and Native American historic preservation is not being properly exploited. He writes that American Indians who lived in the Seattle region lived in harmony with the land, and their values and ways can be put to good use by the various green initiatives working to encourage sustainability in the area. By combining historic values and ideas with the technology of the future we can honor Native Americans by healing and sustaining the land they held sacred.

Read Jason Rood's winning essay (pdf)

Honorable Mention
Adam Scottaline Newnan, Georgia
Anthony Meals Clay Center, Kansas
Deidre Mitchell North Haven, Connecticut
Hannah Couch Statesboro, Georgia
James Fernando Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Jennifer Kempinski Melbourne, Florida
Jeffery Domozick Roswell, Georgia
Michael Ryan Evans, Georgia
Rena Wang Santa Rosa, California
Talia Chorover  Tucson, Arizona


Winning Essays

Two students submitted equally outstanding essays in APA's 2007-2008 High School Essay Contest, and both have been awarded first place prizes.

Caroline Eaton Tracey of Denver, Colorado, and Jingkang Gao of Slingerlands, New York, each received a $5,000 scholarship to their college and complimentary attendance to one American Planning Association National Planning Conference over the next four years. The two overall winners were selected from more than 145 submissions.

Jingkang GaoGao's essay, "Creating a Green Neighborhood in the Southern Region of Albany, New York," focused on adding sustainable elements into the community's existing Capital South Plan, including promoting walkable neighborhoods, incorporating energy efficient features, and using permeable materials.

Read Jingkang Gao's winning essay (pdf)

Caroline Eaton TraceyTracey's essay, "A Sustainable Future for Alamo Placita," detailed building upon Denver's existing Greenprint Denver sustainability plan with native plants, walkable corridors, and loans to help upgrade historic homes with energy efficient features.

Read Caroline Eaton Tracey's winning essay (pdf)

Essay Question and Instructions

The 2007-2008 essay focused on green neighborhoods. Everyone lives in a neighborhood, whether they live in a large city, a suburb, a small town, or even a rural area. For this essay, students were encouraged to consider their neighborhood and create a plan to make it green and environmentally friendly.

Read more about the 2007-2008 guidelines


Winning Essay

Sarah Schewe Sarah Schewe of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, was the winner of the 2006-2007 High School Essay Contest. Her essay, "Affordable Housing Plan for Eden Prairie, Minnesota," was chosen from among more than 200 outstanding entries from students across the United States.

Schewe, a senior at the Blake School in Minneapolis, offered a convincing argument for converting five acres of vacant land into a housing development to meet the growing needs of Eden Prairie. Her solution includes multifamily housing with handicap-accessible features, a mix of market-rate and affordable housing units, co-op day care, and preservation of existing wetland and green space.

Read Sarah Schewe's winning essay (pdf)

Essay Question and Instructions

The 2006-2007 contest focused on expanding housing choice and affordability through planning based on a given scenario. In the scenario, your local government has recently acquired a vacant, five-acre lot located adjacent to the downtown and to an older residential neighborhood. You are the leader of a citizens group that thinks the site should primarily be used for housing, because the need is so great. After having had several discussions, the group has asked you to prepare a written statement of no more than 1,500 words summarizing your group's proposal and strategy to be reviewed before a public meeting.

Read more about the 2006-2007 guidelines