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Entry Deadline – November 25th, 2020

Winners Announced by December 15th, 2020

winners will be awarded by county

All entries automatically entered into Archdiocese contest

Go to: Art Contest / Essay Contest / Photo Contest / Poetry Contest

CYO New York ( is excited to expand its historic Art & Essay Contest by offering a Fall contest in addition to the traditional Spring contest held in May. Based on the success of the virtual contest created out of the COVID pandemic, children were able to share there artwork in the online galleries. The Fall CYO VIRTUAL Art / Essay / Photo / Poetry entry deadline will be November 25. 

CYO Masterpiece Paint-a-Thon
Would you like to raise funds for your school art program through your students inspiring artwork? Join individually, as a class or as an entire school in the CYO Masterpiece Paint-a-Thon and help your school, art program raise money for supplies. Learn more here 


The CYO Art & Essay Program traditionally receives thousands of entries each year by our parish and catholic school children wanting to demonstrate their artistic talents. We are all too familiar how the COVID-19 virus has impacted our traditional ways of celebrating the accomplishments of our children. We need to adapt. With schools moving to online distance learning, hybrid models or full in person, everyone can participate. These talented artists and writers should still be able to display their artwork on a large scale.

The purpose of holding a virtual Art Show is to keep our kids engaged and active. Keep them motivated during these challenging times. Creating a virtual art show and gallery creates new opportunities and a platform to celebrate these students. 

Whether you have an art piece you did not get to display due to the pandemic's cutting our school year and social gatherings short, or an essay you want to share, this is your chance to display your work. Or maybe you want to do something from home, start now. The $3 entry fee (per entry) will be waived if the school art program participates in the CYO Masterpiece Paint-a-Thon mentioned above. Children can enter up to 3 works of art or into 3 of the 4 listed contests of art, essay, photo or poetry.

Fall Theme Idea: COLORS

Foliage we witness during the Fall, transitions us from the warm summer months providing bright, vivid colors before we move into the long days of winter. Here are two inspiring artists that use bright colors through their work and vivid detail, highlighting both the bright colors around us and the power of the human spirit. Entrants are welcome to paint, photograph or write about what inspires them, but here are two artists that may help inspire you.

John Bramblitt is an accomplished artist that realized he truly did not see color until he lost his site. Watch his video here.   

Kadir Nelson has always been moved by the power of the human spirit. Even during a pandemic he was moved by the spirit to unite. Watch his video here


1) REGISTER on website, select contest you will be entering. (You may enter multiple contests, be sure to have your submission ready at time of registration.)

2) PREPARE your artwork, essay, photo or poetry. Enter something you created this school year or start from scratch and submit something new.

3) UPLOAD a high -resolution photo of your artwork during registration process. Or upload your essay, poetry or high-resolution photo submission.

4) VIEW & SHARE your artwork displayed on the online gallery at

5) WINNERS will receive awards by mail.


Art Contest

Art Contest Eligibility & Guidelines:

WHO MAY ENTER: Students in Grades 1 - 12

Art will be judged in the following age divisions:

Small Fry          First & Second Grades

Beginners         Third & Fourth Grades

Learners           Fifth & Sixth Grades

Masters            Seventh & Eighth Grades

Experts             Ninth & Tenth Grades

Elite                   Eleventh & Twelfth Grades

Sculpture has been added for the virtual contest.

Enter any art that can have a still digital image (painting, sculpture, drawing, collage, etc.)

Must enter online. Do not mail art as it will not be entered in the contest or returned.

The subject of the photo must be created by the artist.

Please do not enter art from copyrighted sources such as pictures originated from Disney, Marvel, DC Comics, and Pixar or celebrity images that may have originated from a copyrighted photo.


  • Upload a high resolution camera image (5 megapixels or higher is best, however 2 megapixels at the highest resolution will also work).
  • Use indirect light to minimize glare.
  • Take the photo as straight on as possible to prevent distortion and hold as still as possible.

Make sure your image is not blurry and is clear.

Essay Contest

Essay Contest Eligibility & Guidelines

As in previous years the Essay Contest provides a variety of selections for each participant to select a topic that will allow them the best opportunity for expression of written word. By using no more than 650 words participants should respond to one of the following prompts: The questions below were selected by the CYO Archdiocesan administrative staff after a thorough review of possible essay questions for this year’s contest.

WHO MAY ENTER: The Contest is open to 6th, 7th and 8th grade students.

HOW TO ENTER: You may select from one of the topics below or choose a topic of your choice.

  • What have you learned from the recent pandemic and/or the recent period of social distancing?
  • Discuss how your faith has helped you through a challenging time in your life? 
  • How can youth change the world?
  • During the pandemic, is there a teacher or parish leader that demonstrates the qualities of the CYO Mission statement of, "develops values and strength of character in tomorrow's leaders..."? Please tell us about this teacher or parish leader and how he/she has made you a better leader.
  • Write about a topic of your choice.

NOTE: There is 1 division in the Essay Contest: Elementary. In total, 3 essay submissions will be recognized for their work.

Essay is limited to 650 words and must be type written. Essays will be judged on content as it pertains to the topic, spelling, and grammar.

HOW TO UPLOAD YOUR ESSAY: Locate your essay on your computer and upload during registration process.

Photo Contest

Photo Contest: Animals and Scenery

Continuing with our suggested theme,is there a way to merge  COLORS with the experience we have all been going through, the COVID-19 pandemic. Can you find a way to create an uplifitng image or scenery. Fall is coming, is there something that will move you in the change of seasons while we are under COVID restrictions? Something to lift our spirits? We've spent many months observing stay at home orders due to the COVID-19, perhaps you have a great photo to enter. Do you have an inspiration photo that can uplift us all? We want to see it.

WHO MAY ENTER Contest is open to participants in grades 6th - HS

HOW TO ENTER   Participants must upload their photo outlined in registration instructions. 

Each entry must comply with the following requirements: ¬ Photographs must have been taken within three (3) years before the date of entry. ¬ The Photograph must be an original work created by the Contest entrant. By entering the Contest, entrant represents, acknowledges and warrants that the submitted Photographs are original works created solely by the entrant, that the photograph does not infringe upon the copy rights, trademarks, rights of privacy, publicity or intellectual property rights of any person or entity and that no other party has any right, title, claim or interest in the Photographs. ¬ The Photographs must not in the sole and unfettered discretion of the Sponsor, contain obscene, provocative, explicit or otherwise objectionable or inappropriate.  

Photographs must meet the following technical specifications: ¬ Color or black and white digital files can be submitted. digital photographs a minimum 5”x7” 300 dpi (9m) jpeg of the winning Photographs must be made available to CYO so they can be published to the online gallery. ¬ Photographs taken with digital camera or conventional films are eligible ¬ An image that combines the elements of more than one photograph or has elements removed is not eligible. Minor burning, dodging and/or color correction is acceptable.   The entries in each Category will be judged separately, in accordance with the Judging Criteria, as defined below.   Any entrant whose Photograph does not meet the Photograph Requirements may be disqualified in the sole discretion of the Sponsor.

JUDGING   Contest consists of one (1) round of evaluation. All eligible entries will be based on the following criteria: (1) Creativity 50% (2) Photographic quality 50%

HOW TO UPLOAD YOUR PHOTO: Locate on your computer and upload during registration. Upload a high resolution camera (5 megapixels or higher is best, however 2 megapixels at the highest resolution will also work).

Poetry Contest

CYO Poetry Contest

Students, you are invited to submit to the Inaugural CYO Poetry contest. The contest is open to 6th,7th, and 8th graders and all high school students. Middle School and High School will be judged separately. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize awards will be given.

WHO MAY ENTER Contest is open to participants in grades 6th - HS


  • 6,7,8 Grade: Submit one poem no longer than one page of poetry on any topic.
  • High School: Submit one poem no longer than 2 pages on any topic.

Any form of poetry is acceptable. All submitted work must be original as well as the work of the poet entering the contest and not previously published.

HOW TO UPLOAD YOUR POEMLocate your essay on your computer and upload during registration.