What is it?

The CAV Classical Essay Contest is designed to recognize those students who have submitted outstanding essays in English on a topic appropriate to each level or class.

How can I participate?

The contest is open to students in the public and private middle and high schools of Virginia, and homeschoolers, whose teachers are current members of the Classical Association of Virginia. There is a $2.00 fee per student. Teachers who are not members of CAV should send their dues of $20.00 with the entrance fee. Checks should be payable to the Classical Association of Virginia. See the Formatting & Regulations section below submit acceptable essays.

What is Advanced Latin?

Students in Latin III and beyond may choose between the categories of Vergil, Poetry, and History. Students at the Third or Advanced level may submit essays in more than one category. Only students enrolled in Latin III may write on the topic for Level III.

Formatting & Regulations

  • Essays should be roughly 1000 words, typed double-spaced on a single side of the page
  • The first page of the essay may include a title. The student’s name should not appear on any page of the essay, and the pages of the essay should be numbered
  • Each entry must come with a cover page. Please see the side menu for templates.
  • The cover page shall include: 1) name and home address of the contestant 2) name and address (with city or district) of the school 3) name of the teacher 4) year of Latin studied in the current school year (First, Second, etc., AP is NOT a level) 5) student’s grade level 6) essay topic 
  • No help may be received from any person in the research, preparation, and/or writing of the essay. Books and electronic sources may (indeed, generally should) be consulted, provided that all research is completed by the student and proper acknowledgement of intellectual property is given. A list of sources and works cited should be provided at the end of the essay on a separate page. A good on-line source for help in the formal preparation of an essay is Purdue’s online writing lab (OWL), which can be found at:  http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/research/r_mla.html 
  • Teachers, of course, are allowed to guide students toward the types of reference material to consult, and provide general instruction on the writing of a good essay. However, teachers must not provide any editorial feedback to the students. That is, they should not be reading and commenting on their students’ essays before the final form in which they will be submitted. 
  • Essays should present a clear, coherent synthesis of material researched. A lively and well-organized essay is better than a laundry list of facts. Judges look for verve and imagination in the writing, and not merely quantity of research. To this end, it has been the policy to accept essays that are closer to creative writing exercises than to the traditional expository essay. It is to be understood, however, that the same amount of factual content and critical thought must be in evidence in whatever form the essay takes. It should be noted as well that what appears to be a creative approach to writing an essay begins to look less and less creative when essay after essay is written in the same pattern. Ineligible entries will be discarded.


Nota Bene: that by entering this contest you are giving the Classical Association of Virginia consent to publish your name in its official publications. Winners’ names will be published on the CAV website and in the CAV newsletter. 

 Nota Bene: the winning essays will be posted on the CAV website in pdf form. If students do not want their names published and/or essays posted, they should please add a note to that effect on their cover page.