Contest Rules

Entries should depict the need for and benefits of intercultural or interracial harmony and reflect on resolving critical community issues.  Your contribution should convey your ideas, feelings, or personal stories about unity, compassion, understanding, and cooperation among people in our society today, and, if appropriate, reflect on your role as a change agent in these arenas.

We want to see your honesty and thoughtfulness as well as your artistic and literary talents to communicate and express ideals in a way that broadens minds and touches hearts. Short Story and Poetry entries, especially, should reflect a metaphorical, fictional, or personal incident.

Entries will be judged by professionals according to the following criteria:
1. effective treatment of the theme;
2. originality and creative use of the medium; and
3. mastery of the art form, including grammar and technical details.

Students may submit no more than one entry in Literature and no more than one entry in Art. You may submit one entry in each of those two categories.

The Visions of Unity contest is open only to students attending the high schools in Torrance, California. THE DEADLINE IS MONDAY FEBRUARY 5, 2024 at 11:59 PM. Art entries must be dropped in your principal’s office on or by Tuesday February 6 with the entry form printed and attached.

Contest Themes

Creativity is important, so please avoid standard biographies of civil rights leaders. If you need a little inspiration, here are some specific themes you can focus on if you wish.

1. MULTI-CULTURAL – Describe unique multi-cultural experiences you have had and what others can learn from your experiences. Has living in a foreign country and experiencing other cultures changed you for the better? What about deepening your understanding of friends or relatives from different races, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, parts of the world, or knowing those from other distinguishing backgrounds?

2. POLARIZATION – Incidents mired in prejudice and division continue threaten the harmony, safety, and peace of the people in our communities. Have you thought deeply about the solutions to this division? What can you and your peers do to reverse the trend? Do you have personal stories of loving someone dearly despite having opposing views? Do you see viable solutions to polarization? What are ways that our differences can be our strengths versus the source of our divisions? How can you help people in our communities to respect and even love one another despite having strongly held and opposing views on certain issues? How can those strategies for peace apply to the entire world?

3. DIVERSITY IN TORRANCE – How do our many differences contribute positively to the experience of living in Torrance? How do people in a city as diverse as Torrance find unique ways to build unity? What has your study of history and of current world events taught you about the impact of one group’s rejection of another? How does conflict affect the stability, safety, and quality of life within your community?

4. THEN VS. NOW – How do the civil rights challenges of the 1950s and 1960s differ from social justice challenges today?  In what ways are they the same? How did past generations of “unifiers” pave the way for us? How can we honor their sacrifices and take that next step forward? What can we learn from the history of other countries and of or own?

5. DISCRIMINATION – Tell us about the discrimination you or someone you know well may have personally experienced that shaped your convictions and the steps you’ve taken to create visions of unity.  Did you see someone else act courageously to create deeper understanding and healing in the face of discrimination? What do you think society could do to prevent future discrimination against you and/or the people you described? How did your experience help you realize the role we each personally play in creating a vision of unity?

6. INTER-GENERATIONAL – How has your own family changed in terms of tolerance? Have they become less or more open to people who are different from them? What can your family’s experiences teach others about how to achieve more unity?

7. ORIGINS – How can people learn to become open minded, respectful, and loving? Can those traits be developed by parents, schools, friends, or life experiences? How did you learn those traits and why do you think it worked?

8. SOCIAL MEDIA / TECHNOLOGY – Have social media and new technologies made it easier or more difficult to achieve a vision of unity in our area? Can we manage social media and technology to cultivate greater harmony and understanding among our diverse communities? What have been your challenges with social media in terms of bridging divides and fostering unity?

Word Count and Project Size

POEM (not to exceed 35 lines)

ESSAY (not to exceed 800 words)

SHORT STORY (400 – 900 words)

DRAWING, PAINTING, OR PHOTOGRAPH (20″ x 24″ max. size, 16″ x 24″ max. size for photography prints) – Mount if possible. Print and attach entry form to back of artwork with glue or tape and leave with your teacher.

SCULPTURE (24″ max. height) – Print and attach entry form with string securely to the submission and leave with your teacher.

COMPUTER GRAPHICS – Mount on white illustration board (20” x 24” max. size). Print and attach entry form to back of artwork with glue or tape and leave with your teacher.

Enter the Contest

THE DEADLINE IS MONDAY FEBRUARY 5, 2024 at 11:59 PM. The contest entry form is available at (or click the “Enter the Contest” link at the top of the page).

Literature entries must be submitted online and in .doc, .docx, or .txt file format. Other file types, including .pages and .pdf, are NOT acceptable and will be disqualified.

Art entries must be dropped in your principal’s office on or by February 5 with the entry form printed and attached. Those entries will be picked up Tuesday February 6.

Awards Celebration

All Literary contestants who place 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or Honorable Mention normally give oral presentations of their works at the Visions of Unity Awards Celebration. This celebration is attended by students, parents, local elected officials, TUSD administrators, and community members who support the mission and students of Visions of Unity.

The Visions of Unity Awards Celebration will take place Monday March 25, 2024. Attendance is strongly encouraged for winners to receive their prize checks.

Winning art entries will also be displayed in the Katy Geissert Civic Center Library showcase (if they fit on the 2′ high shelves).

Winners will also receive cash awards, thanks to the generosity of the sponsors below. In the last 23 years, more than 400 students have received awards and over $25,000 in cash prizes.