Each summer the West Bridgewater Public Library will host a “This I Believe” essay contest for middle and high school students. Each year will focus on a different theme.

In honor of the Henry David Thoreau Bicentennial, the theme for the 2017 Summer will be a meditation on the words of Thoreau from his book, Walden, published in 1854:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Check here for all the exciting activities that celebrate the bicentennial of this great American philosopher:




Submit via email to:  ellens@sailsinc.org   

Subject line: Essay Contest entry

In the body of the email include your name, your age, your school, your English teacher.

Maximum length: 750 words.

Deadline for submission: Friday, June 30, 2017

For some tips on how to write a winning essay see the following link:


Tips & Suggestions for Writing Your Essay from the Walden Woods folks:

  1. Make the essay personal. Make a personal statement or tell a story that provides insight into your own experiences and views. Use the pronoun “I.”
  2. Use “talk it out” or “rapid free write” activities to spark ideas.
  3. Pretend a journalist or interviewer has asked you to comment on the essay topic.
  4. Respond out loud, off the top of your head.
  5. Record your response or have a friend take notes about what you said.
  6. Alternatively, give yourself five minutes to write a response.
  7. Don’t stop to edit yourself. Just write.
  8. Analyze your response. What worked? What didn’t? Were there any particularly strong points or angles?
  9. Repeat the activity. This time, deliberately change your approach (try to answer the question a different way).
  10. Try an idea web or mapping brainstorm activity.
  11. Use a graphic organizer or make your own.
  12. Draw a circle or bubble at the center of a piece of paper.
  13. Write 1-3 words that capture the essay topic or theme inside the bubble.
  14. Think about words, ideas, memories associated with the theme.
  15. Write each in other bubbles surrounding the one in the center.
  16. Visit the “For Students” section of the Walden Woods Project website for inspiration. Read and discuss excerpts from Thoreau’s works.