The 2015 AYLUS Essay Contest




Essay Contest



Choose one of the topics: 
1) “Yes, I can help”
2) Why do you love AYLUS?
3) Giving is receiving
Deadline: December 10th, 2015
Length: 200-600 words
Coordinator: Christie Yu
Committee Chair: Emily Wang

Committee members:  Christie Yu, Sophie Wen, Lauren Yang, Cissy Xiao, Jonathan Liu, Alex Lin, Eric Wu, Shangtao Wu, Luvena Huo, Claire Wen, Bradley Yu, Jessica Fan.

The 2015 AYLUS Essay Contest offers students the chance to demonstrate their writing skills while additionally showing their passion and love for the AYLUS community. The top three papers in each grade category will be featured on the AYLUS website and will be used by the organization for future charity events. Participants will enter in the categories of grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12.


Please submit in a Word document format along with the writer’s full name, age, grade, e-mail address, and picture. We will need a picture of the writer to publish the written work!


AYLUS will honor contestants with volunteer hours for the time spent working on the essay. Download the volunteer hours request form at



Dear AYLUS members,
Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful writing with us! We can see every effort you put into your fantastic work. We also know you thought about these significant topics deeply and carefully before writing. We believe you will spread our AYLUS spirit and make our voices louder in this world. In a few years, when you are thinking altruistically or acting virtuously, you might remember this contest. We are delighted and so lucky to see you grow day by day with us.
Every judge will vote for two K-5 level essays, three 6-8 level essays, and four 9-12 level essays that display our AYLUS values and personal writing skills exceptionally. Please send your evaluation forms to the following email addresses by December 22nd, 2015. Thank you very much. You are all super stars!

AYLUS Essay Contest Rubric is here.

AYLUS Essay Contest Evaluation Form is here.





9-12 Essays:




Comments from the judges:


Ethan Zhou – Ethan’s essay contains all the elements for a strong essay. His word choice and effective use of examples lend depth to his writing. His writing shows maturity beyond his years, and I would encourage him to continue to write creatively!

Fiona Huang – Fiona’s essay discusses very tough subjects such as prejudice and bullying in a very honest way that readers can truly relate to. She effectively uses her own experiences and a novel to convey the importance of being accepting of all people. Her writing shows deep thought and sensitivity, and she shows the makings of an excellent writer if she continues to write with such honesty.

Melinda Yu – Melinda’s essay is well-organized and effectively hooks the reader from the beginning. She expands on her reasoning in each paragraph and provides detailed examples of why she enjoys being a part of AYLUS. Her enthusiasm is very evident in her writing, and I would encourage her to keep writing with such passion!


Adora Shou – Adora’s essay is very thoughtful and well-written. She immediately engages the reader in an interesting dilemma (Why can’t we readily help others as well?) and by presenting compelling examples of the “Bystander Effect.” Her conclusion gives readers a sense of industry, that small changes can make a big difference. Overall a very compelling essay!

David Lin – David’s poem epitomizes what the topic Giving is Receiving is about. He has presented readers with beautiful imagery and has interwoven current events (ie Mark Zuckerberg’s recent donation) into his poem. He writes about large acts of kindness, as well as small and gives readers a sense of awe. His writing is truly impressionable! Excellent work!

Claire Wen – Claire’s poem demonstrates the highest level of creativity and thought. It is well-organized and she effectively incorporates all of the AYLUS activities into the body of the poem. Through her poem, Claire undoubtedly conveys her love for the organization, and for that reason it deserves recognition!

Bradley Yu – Your essay’s thesis comes out clearly and the quotations are integrated effectively into the prose.

Jessica Fan – Jessica’s writing was fantastic! She was able to tell her story despite the difficult prompt, but really got her message across using simple language and ideas that was easy to understand. She does a fantastic job of convincing the reader of her motivations and intentions, and her word choice was exemplary. Overall, great job!

Tiger Peng – To be honest, I like your point of view and your very unique writing style. The thesis demonstrates unusually independent thinking. Just be yourself and continue to write with such honesty!

Benjamin Liang – Overall a very well written essay, well organized, analysis and findings support objectives. The transitions work well between paragraphs. Quotations are integrated effectively into the prose.

Katherine Zhou – Katherine’s story is a moving one, and one that shows her understanding of her role in society. Working with call centers and especially suicide patients is no easy task, but it was great to see that Katherine did not try to shoulder all of the responsibility on herself, and that she was also able to seek help when needed.

Eric Wu – Eric’s essay is an exemplary piece of work. It is well-organized and confidently voiced. His paragraph using his own volunteer experience at the Houston Food Bank effectively contributes to his overall argument that “Giving is Receiving.” His conclusion is very artfully written and leaves the reader with a sense of satisfaction and inspiration.

Sophie Wen – Sophie’s poem conveys the topic “Giving is Receiving” by artfully retelling some of her own experiences: at school, at home, and in the community. Not only can a reader get a sense of the author’s humble and charitable nature, the reader is inspired. Sophie has given them a glimpse of how small actions can make a positive impact. This poem is wonderful and engaging!

Lauren Yang – Lauren’s essay is beautifully composed. She engages readers right from the beginning and tells a wonderful story about performing for residents at an Alzheimer’s care center. She uses her unique experiences to convey to readers how giving is receiving, and the challenges that are associated with giving (ie whether it makes a difference). Lauren is truly a gifted writer!

Lauren Yang (2) – Demonstrating outstanding critical thinking, this essay effectively and insightfully develops the point of view that “Giving is Receiving”, using clearly appropriate examples from an elderly lady, Ruth, who was in an Alzheimer’s care center. Ruth was intrigued by the writer’s volunteer performance and invoked an attempt to reclaim a forgotten piano piece, or rather received a resonance of lost beauty. This essay also displays skillful use of language.

Leo Tong – I think everyone will be touched by Leo’s story which was written with the deepest sympathy. The story makes the conclusion very effective. Thesis is well supported by the story and analysis.

Christie Yu – Christie writes her story beautifully with a sense of knowledge of her purpose in society. She uses great examples of people who are inspiring towards the others around her. Her vocabulary is very well constructed within the sense of the story, and really exemplifies her creative nature.

Christie Yu (2) – Christie’s essay is persuasively written and eloquent. It demonstrates unusually excellent independent thinking. It has a beautiful beginning and many beautiful sentences.

Christie Yu (3) – This essay effectively and insightfully develops the point of view that “Giving is Receiving” through a clearly appropriate example drawing on the writer’s experience as a student. It exhibits outstanding critical thinking by presenting a well-organized and clearly focused narrative that aptly illustrates the value of giving out one’s time and resources to others. It also consistently displays skillful use of language and meaningful variety in sentence structure, and clear coherence and smooth progression of ideas. Two thumbs up!

Jessica Fan – Jessica’s writing was fantastic! She was able to tell her story despite the difficult prompt, but really got her message across using simple language and ideas that was easy to understand. She does a fantastic job of convincing the reader of her motivations and intentions, and her word choice was exemplary. Overall, great job!

Emily Wang – Emily does a great job portraying the issues of the world today, and how she perceives herself within that world. She uses her word choice very thoughtfully, and is able to construct a wonderful picture of how she wishes to influence the world through her own means. Overall, great writing, great imagery, and great message!

Emily Wang (2) – This essay effectively develops the prompt that titles “Yes I can help”.  The writer uses outstanding critical thinking and evidence to show that “just because I cannot change the entire world, does not mean that I cannot try to change the lives of those around me.” The essay clearly demonstrates consistent mastery of conveying a firm idea.

Daiyao Zhang – Daiyao writes a moving essay about volunteering at a local pantry. She avoids the use of clichés and engages the reader through artful storytelling. Her honesty is evident in her writing and her experiences lend her a strong voice. Continue to write about your experiences, and readers will be able to gain a wealth of inspiration!

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