Contest Panel Judges select the most creative entries by grade level.
How submissions are graded:
Since 1997, a panel of Orange County teachers have been designated as contest judges to evaluate every submission. No teacher is allowed to judge any submission from his or her school and can only judge submissions from other schools. This eliminates the possibility of bias.
Participants are evaluated for creativity by grade level. Participants are graded within each classroom to allow friendly competition. A lower advanced class, for example, does not compete with a more advanced class. Since judges may read thousands of submissions, it is helpful that students use innovative phrases and creative word choices.
When first-prize winners are culled into a final best-of-the-best stack, the grand-prize Diamond Winner is chosen by founder Diamond Mike Watson. To maintain the integrity of the contest, every effort is made to ensure these excellent essays are completed in class, are not plagiarized, and appear to be the student’s normal writing ability.