Winners Announced for 12th Annual NSU Louisiana High School Essay Contest


NATCHITOCHES – LaKin Ogilvie of Simpson High School has been named the first place winner of the 2020 Northwestern State University Louisiana High School Essay Contest.  Ogilvie won the honor for her essay “The Giver of Gifts.”  Julia Kapusta of Mount Carmel Academy in New Orleans won second place for her essay “Louisiana—Through the Eyes of Gloria Doran,” and Abbie Butler of Pineville High School won third place for her essay “Looking Back and Moving Forward.”  Three students received Honorable Mention.  They are Bailee Creasey of C.E. Byrd High School in Shreveport for his essay “Expansion,” Valerie Perilloux of St. Charles Catholic High School in LaPlace for her essay “Memories of a Lifetime” and Dominic Ross of the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts in Natchitoches for his essay “War and Homecoming.”

Writing on the 2020 contest theme “Remembering Louisiana,” entrants were invited to visit with an elderly member of their family or surrounding community about how Louisiana has changed over their lifetime.  What do they feel are the most significant changes they have experienced over their lifetime?

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“As with every year, the contest entries were an immense pleasure to read,” said Dr. Shane Rasmussen, director of the Louisiana Folklife Center at NSU and co-chair of the contest.  “The essays eloquently convey a sense of remembered history, and these memories recreated on the page help readers to understand some of the complexities that have shaped Louisiana’s people and cultures.  The essays also express some of the heroism, grit, creativity, and wisdom of the forebears of these young writers, and how the wisdom of the older generations is positively impacting the lives of our young people.”

Winners will have their essays featured in the Louisiana Folklife Journal which is published by the Louisiana Folklife Center.  Contest winners have also been invited to share their essays with the participants of the 12th Annual Louisiana Studies Conference, which will take place virtually via WebEx on Saturday, September 19.  The online conference is free and open to the public.  A link for the conference will be placed on the Louisiana Folklife Center website on September 7.

The first, second, and third prize winners will each receive a $200 per semester NSU scholarship with a value up to $1,600 for 4 years.  All of the contest winners will receive a cash prize in honor of their accomplishment.  The essay contest is open to all Louisiana students in grades 9 – 12 regardless of type of school institution, including students in all types of private educational environments, as well as home schooled students.

This year’s essay contest judges were Dr. Lisa Abney, faculty facilitator for academic research and community college outreach and professor of English at NSU; Jason Church, materials conservator with the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training; Lisa Davis, director of the NSU Writing Project; Sharon Wolff, assistant archivist at the Cammie G. Henry Research Center, and Rasmussen.

The contest was sponsored by the Louisiana Folklife Center, the NSU Office of Recruiting, the NSU Writing Project, and the College of Arts, Letters, Graduate Studies and Research.  The contest is annual, with a new theme to be announced in early Spring 2021.

For more information contact Dr. Shane Rasmussen, NSU Box 3663, Natchitoches, LA 71497,, or call the Louisiana Folklife Center at (318) 357-4332.