Youth Story Contest

 2018 Finalists now online!



Winners have been announced!

Congratulations to all the talented writers and filmmakers who had their work shown live at Ocean Fest! Awards were presented by City of Tacoma council member Ryan Mello, with judges and sponsors present.

Film Winners

High School:

1st Place: Kalinda Nguyen (Lincoln)

2nd Place: Isaac Barnett (Lincoln)

3rd Place: Jacob Hanigan (Bellarmine)

Middle School:

1st Place: Myles Johnson (Jason Lee)

2nd Place: Jovanni Walker (Meeker)

Poetry Winners

High School

1st Place: Bailey Black (Annie Wright)

2nd Place: Grace Amdal (Oakland Alternative)

3rd Place: Nay’Shawn Bryant (Lincoln) and Madeline Christensen (Bellarmine)

Middle School

1st Place: Michelle Merlo Mendoza (Jason Lee)

2nd Place: Whitney Lopez (Jason Lee)

3rd Place: Elliot Smith (Jason Lee)

Annie Crawley artists Humpback whales

The Youth Story Contest

The ocean is beautiful. Whether you see it on a screen, lapping at Tacoma’s waterfront or crashing onto a beach, it’s full of wonder and beauty. Countless animals, some still undiscovered. Endless underwater landscapes. Light, color, sound. Here in Tacoma, we’re incredibly lucky to have the ocean at our doorstep: the Salish Sea (Puget Sound), misty, cold and beautiful.

But the ocean is also in danger. Billions of pounds of plastic trash choke and starve sea animals, and make their way back to us.  Chemicals pollute the water from industry, homes and cars. Corals are dying from climate change, fed by fossil fuels.

Why should we care? Because we need the ocean for our every breath, for our water, our weather, our food. We need to protect it – and so we all need to tell its story.

How are YOU connected to the ocean? What do you love about it? How can we save it?

Tell us. Be the voice of the ocean for Tacoma Ocean Fest 2018.

Categories (you can apply in both):

– Poetry (500 words or less)
– Film (120 seconds or less)

Divisions (only apply in one):

– High school
– Middle school

Film Prizes

  • Grand prize: High school $150; middle school $100.

Plus: 1 free private event rental at The Grand Cinema (birthday, special screening, gaming), a VIP pass to the 2018 Tacoma Film Festival, a 25&Under Annual Membership to The Grand, and 4 free tickets.

  • Second place: High school $100; middle school $50.

Plus: A VIP Pass to 2018 Tacoma Film Festival, a 25&Under Annual Membership to The Grand, and 4 free tickets.

  • Third place: 1 VIP Pass to 2018 Tacoma Film Festival, and 4 free tickets.

Poetry Prizes

  • Grand prize: High school $150; middle school $100.

Plus: $100 gift certificate from Underwater Sports, $40 book voucher from Kings + Moleskin notebook

  • Second place: high school $100; middle school $50.

Plus: Yearly family membership to the Foss Seaport and 800 other museums, $40 Kings Books voucher

  • Third place: 2 tickets to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, $40 Kings Books voucher


– All valid submissions will receive a free personal pizza coupon from Round Table Pizza (poetry and film) and 2 tickets to The Grand Cinema (film entrants only)
– All finalists will have their work published on and read/screened at Tacoma Ocean Fest, June 10, 2018 at the Foss Waterway Seaport
– Winners will be announced live at Ocean Fest

What’s the deadline?

Submissions to the 2018 Ocean Fest Youth Story Contest open 12 a.m. Thursday, February 15, 2018 and close 11 p.m. Sunday, April 22, 2018. No late submissions.

Who is eligible?

Middle and high school students who live in the Tacoma, WA school district or who attend Tacoma Public Schools or Chief Leschi Schools are eligible to participate. (Includes private, public and homeschoolers.)

What else do I need to know?

Glad you asked!
First, read the FAQ and Submission Rules.

Then, check out our Resources page. You’ll find free Tacoma library workshops for filmmaking and poetry, good websites, inspiring Tacoma locations and more.

How do I submit?

Submit entries on the Submission page!


Thanks to our generous sponsors!

Rotary Sunrise Club of Tacoma


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and with help from:

TPL      Write253_Stacked_CMYK-300x228