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What High School Is Like in 2023: A Multimedia Challenge for Teachers and Teens

Please read the details before submitting an entry. You can find more in the Frequently Asked Questions section below.

  • Your submission must in some way respond to our focus question: What can you show or tell us that might help explain what it’s like to be an educator or a student in a secondary school right now?

    Please note: Your accompanying artist’s statement will offer you a place to explain how your work connects to one or more of these questions, even if the piece itself does not make that obvious.

  • You can work alone or with others. You can work with people your own age, or across ages, roles and even schools. For example, a teacher and students could work together on a submission, as could students participating in a club with chapters across schools. However, your name can be on only one submission.

  • You can submit anything you can upload to our system digitally. Please see the “What to Submit” section for more detail. Please also make sure that you have set your permissions so that YouTube and SoundCloud links are not private.

  • You may submit an artifact you have already created, such as an image or screenshot from your camera roll, or you can make something new.

  • Your submission can be funny or sad, raw or polished. It can be deeply personal or, with their permission, can reflect the experiences of others.

    It’s up to you what to express, as long as you address one or more of our focus questions. Our related guide — coming soon! — will have many examples to inspire you.

  • When you submit your entry, you must fill out an artist’s statement of up to 400 words telling us when, where, how and why you created the piece, and how it relates to our theme of secondary school in 2023.

    As our rubric shows, this statement is an important part of the submission, so we hope you will craft it carefully. See more information in the F.A.Q. below.

  • If you are submitting writing, regardless of the genre, it must not be more than 450 words. Our form allows you to use line breaks and spacing as you choose. (This does not include the accompanying artist’s statement, where you will have an additional 400 words to describe your project and its relevance to our themes.)

  • Videos and audio recordings can be no longer than two minutes. (Video should be uploaded to YouTube, and audio should be uploaded to SoundCloud. You’ll need to provide the URL and make sure you have not set your upload to “private.”)

  • All submissions must be original and include only your own work. For example, if you create a collage, none of the images can come from the work of others. Similarly, you cannot submit a screenshot or photo of someone else’s social media post or artwork. You may, however, take a screenshot of a text conversation you had or a Google search you conducted.

  • Please be sure to use non-copyrighted sound effects or music for any video or audio pieces. You cannot use copyrighted sound effects or music for the sole purpose of making your podcast sound better. Instead, you can find royalty-free music and sound effects on Freesound and SoundBible, or by doing a web search for royalty-free files. You can also use audio editing software to create your own music or sound effects.

  • You cannot submit anything you have already published elsewhere, including in a school newspaper. You can, however, send in work you have posted on social media, as long as the work is your own. (Please do not send a link to the social media post itself; just send the work.)

  • We understand that some of what you want to express might be sensitive. Though we need your full name and details when you submit, if we publish your piece we can work with you to keep some identifying details private. In addition, please keep the privacy of others in mind. You must obtain permission if you photograph or videotape other people, or use their full names.

  • Please also keep in mind that The New York Times is a family newspaper, so your submission should be appropriate for a broad audience. (For instance, please avoid cursing.)

  • You must be an adult working in a secondary or high school in any capacity, or a student age 13 to 19 attending a secondary or high school, to participate. Homeschooled students who are between 13 and 19 and take part in organized learning or extracurricular activities with others are also welcome to submit. All students must have parent or guardian permission to enter. Please see the F.A.Q. section for additional eligibility details.

  • All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time on Oct. 4, 2023, using the contest entry form below.

  • This challenge is a variation on the Coming of Age contest we ran in 2020, 2021 and 2022. We have developed new materials for this contest, but the older materials can be easily adapted since, except for the focus question, the challenge is the same.

  • Our unit plan on documenting and reflecting on teenage lives

  • The winning work from the 2020, 2021, and 2022 Coming of Age contest, much of which addresses life in school

  • An edition of our Mentor Text series that uses student work to show how to find artifacts or create new pieces that say something unique

  • A step-by-step guide we created for the Coming of Age contest

  • A reader-submitted piece called “‘The Found Project’: How We Built Community With the Coming of Age Unit,” which includes a full curriculum and student work to show you how a unit like this might look in the classroom

  • Our book, “Coming of Age in 2020,” which features nearly 200 works by teenagers — including photographs, comics, diary entries, paintings, charts, texts, recipes and rants — to document that unforgettable year

  • Below are answers to your questions about submissions, judging, the rules of the contest and teaching with this contest. Please read these thoroughly and, if you still can’t find what you’re looking for, post your query in the comments or write to us at LNFeedback@nytimes.com.

    The New York Times Learning Network turns 25 this month, and we’ve decided that the best way to celebrate is to hear from our core audience — secondary schoolteachers and their students in the U.S. and around the world.

    At a time when education news is regularly featured on the front page, we want to offer you a place to speak for yourselves, in whatever way you’d like to do it. Whether you’re reacting to headlines about book bans and staff shortages or spotlighting something personal about your own classroom or subject area, our hope is that the collective portrait that emerges will help readers understand what it means to work with adolescents today.

    I’m not a teacher, I’m a high school librarian/cafeteria worker/principal/custodian/secretary/coach/paraprofessional. Can I still participate?

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