The News School Announces St. Agatha’s WISE Awards

WISE awards
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

WISE awards

The News School and their partners proudly present “The WISE Awards,” a citywide scholastic essay writing competition for students grades 6-8, 9-12 and College Freshmen under age 21.  

The scholastic competition, founded by WISE (Writing Intelligent, Scholarly Essays), is a school-year long competition in which students within the Chicagoland area compete to advance themselves through three tiers of competitive, original, nonfiction essay submissions in order to win academic scholarships, computers and a variety of other necessary resources in the Citywide WISE Awards Competition.

Participating students will submit a written original, informative essay along with an audio version based on one of twenty-seven predetermined writing topics. Student entries are divided into three categories: Prodigy, Phoenix, and Paragon. Those in grades 6 through 8 are the “Prodigy” entrants, grades 9 through 12 make up the “Phoenix Group,” and college undergraduates belong to the “Paragon” category.  

These young writers will select from assigned topics which will include, for example, rights established by the United States government, cultural trends, scientific research, as well as the arts. Each entrant will be given the opportunity to choose their own topic from the list formulated by a designated committee chosen by WISE.

Topics will range in category from World, U.S. Business, Technology, Entertainment, Sports, Science, Health and the Arts

Each Month, one student from each category and from each geographical district will be identified by an esteemed panel of teachers, professors, and college students as the “WISE Student of the Month.” Simultaneously, one student from each category who receives the most online votes will become “WISE Co-Student of the Month.” In addition, each month, St Agatha’s News School will feature the three articles selected by WISE as that month’s winners and an additional three essays that won by online voting.   

The WISE Award competitive process is designed to help students improve their reading and writing skills, build confidence, morale, and recognition by helping them showcase their talents on a citywide media platform.

Students from Public and Private Schools Encouraged to Participate

Both private and public schools are eligible for participation and at the end of Tier One of the competition, winning students will be selected to participate in the second level.  These writers will advance to the semi-final round and have their expositions appear in a statewide distributed magazine.

In all rounds, especially the semi-final round, fans, family, teachers, and individuals throughout Chicago will be invited to vote for their favorite student writer.  Those receiving a combination of votes will be the winners of the round and will be publicized and promoted in videos promoting education. The final stage of the competition will culminate in the First Annual local WISE Awards. It will bring the winners, selected by their peers and fans, to the last selection process, where one shining star will be named WISE Award Champion 2019.

WISE Awards Criteria

Dual Awards Contest:

Fans, family, and teachers who choose to vote will be instructed to register their identities so that as individuals they become eligible candidates to win The WISE Best Exam Review Award.

All Participants


WISE recognizes each individual as a creative person, full of ideas and a unique view of the world. The award judges are looking for this quality in every submission, regardless of award level or experience. While plagiarism is, of course, forbidden by contest rules, this criteria goes beyond the avoidance of mere copying.

Creativity is a quality of the personal beliefs and viewpoints that each person possesses. While many students may write about the same subject, the essays should be as unique and engaging as the authors themselves. It is this personal quality fueled by the creative impulse that will make an essay worthy of a WISE Award.

Writing Skills

In order to best convey their personal views, every writer must be proficient in using the tools which build great essays. Some people have declared the death of grammar and punctuation in this age of informality and instant messaging. WISE knows, however, that mastery of these skills is essential to clear and effective communication. Without the basic standards of correct grammar and punctuation, the unity of understanding is difficult to achieve.

Every student is learning and practicing these writing skills every day, but they may not realize just how essential they are. The purpose of having them as part of the WISE Awards’ central criteria is to demonstrate their importance. By offering a material reward, the Awards provide a context in which proficiency yields concrete results. Some students may not realize their own skill in using grammar and punctuation. Making these skills a primary focus of the criteria is designed to give participants the opportunity to discover their own skill and encourage further development.

Prodigy Participants

Participants in the prodigy level are in the 6th through 8th grades and are willing to take on challenges which may initially seem daunting, but no one should feel inadequate to the task. Besides grade-appropriate standards for grading, the beauty of the WISE Awards is that the success of every entry depends on the passion of the person writing it, not the sum total of their academic experience. Some things like creativity and passion defy grade level or category. These are the qualities that will make up the winning essays.

Key Criterion

Every level has a key criterion that every participant in the level must meet. For those in the Prodigy level, relevance is central to the essay submission. Relevance is a two-part skill in which a writer must first determine what connects to the central topic and then how to incorporate that information into the whole.

The skill with which the participant accomplishes this task should factor into every students’ submission and will be part of the judges’ grading process. Essays submitted by  Prodigy participants should consist of no more than 500 words and no less than 450 words.

Phoenix Participants

Essays submitted by Phoenix participants should consist of no more than 1000 words and no less than 950 words. Essays submitted by Paragon participants should consist of no more than 1500 words and no less than 1450 words.

Phoenix essays will be judged on the level of coherence. Writers who demonstrate the ability to cohesively write a longer essay display strong organizational skills. Keeping the entire essay on target and understandable throughout is a key part of writing excellence.

Paragon Participants

Paragon participants will be judged on nuance. They will demonstrate a mastery of expressing the subtleties of an argument through writing goes beyond simple, direct communication and utilizes the natural shades and gradations of meaning in order to communicate effectively.

The WISE Mission

The ideals of bold inclusivity, equal success an, educational excellence are the bedrock of the WISE mission. Together with its partners, WISE puts these beliefs into action through the WISE Awards. WISE extends an invitation to all like-minded individuals and organizations with the same convictions and beliefs in these students’ promise to play a key role in this exciting work.

St. Agatha’s News School

WISE awardsSt. Agatha’s News School is committed to the idea of providing quality educational programs devoted to the prospect of improving our students’ opportunities by improving their ability to communicate and express themselves. At all levels, the intern program offered is about transformation and empowerment. This opportunity should be available to all.

The program offers education in journalism on campus and online which is designed to enhance writing and editing skills but also to help students understand how to use the internet, to take their unique perspective to a citywide audience in the most effective and impactful manner.

The News School does not stop at grammar and punctuation, instructors delve into the complexities of SEO, social and broadcast media. Students are taught how to communicate ideas clearly and concisely. This helps them develop the skill of organizing their ideas effectively.

Those who take this journey with us will intellectually grow to better understand themselves and the growing opportunities in terms of technology and connectivity to extend their reach across the globe in new and inventive ways.

Greek and Latin are taught to enhance communication skills by deepening understanding of the origins of vocabulary in English as well as the commonalities with other languages. Understanding those shared origins, particularly when communicating with audiences who do not have English as their primary language, is a cornerstone of effective interaction when working with a citywide audience of the type that modern technology platforms now make possible.

The ability to effectively share nuance on a citywide scale is what makes the difference in advancing one’s reading and writing. Participants will be truly communicating. It is one of the things that builds leaders.

The News School is invested in the idea of building a better future by building up our youth. St. Agatha’s offer programs which help students who have had to step off of their educational path to get back on it.

The citywide essay contest for young people which gives them cross-cultural exposure and helps encourage reading and writing learning activities in children as young as fifth grade. Winners of this contest have the opportunity to receive scholarships and other prizes. St. Agatha’s News School wants to show young people just how far they can reach if they devote themselves to developing their reading, writing communication skills.  

Written by DiMarkco Chandler
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware

Images Courtesy of The News School – Used With Permission


Send Us A Message