Be a Pain Essay Contest

Learn more about the “Be a Pain” project here.

Contest Rules:

Scattered throughout our new “Be a Pain” video are names of many different historical and present-day leaders and heroes. Some, like Rosa Parks and Dr. King, will be familiar to you. Some you may never have heard of.

Choose a name, do some research, and write a page about what this person did and how their work affects the world you live in today. Feel free to write about personal ways their work affects your own life. Add a creative dimension to your paper: draw a picture, make a slide show or animation –– anything that helps illustrate what you’ve written.

We’ll pick winners in three different grade-level groups: K-2, 3-5, and 6-8.

First place winners in each category get a signed “Be a Pain” CD and a “Be a Pain” pin. Second place winners get a “Be a Pain” album download code. One overall winner will get a pair of tickets to any upcoming Moock show.

Email your entries here by Sunday, March 29. We’ll announce winners over the next couple of days and then (with permission) post and share some of the winning entries over the coming weeks!

p.s. Even though we’ve now announced the winners, it’s not too late to take part. If you’d still like to submit an entry, you’re welcome do so, and I’ll continue to share with my audience over time!


We had a large number of truly excellent entries. Students from grades K-8 wrote about –– and made accompanying pictures for –– leaders as diverse as Greta Thunberg (the overwhelmingly most popular choice), Pete Seeger, Rosa Parks, Billie Jean King, Gloria Steinem, Fred Hampton, Guion Bluford, and the Parkland students.

Gloria CollageThe winner of the grade 7-8 division was Kensie L., who wrote about Gloria Steinem: “Gloria has inspired many including me. I enjoy writing, and I would like to be a journalist when I grow up. Due to the perseverance of Gloria and others after her, I will able to have a job as a journalist.”

Pete's BanjoThe winner of the grade 3-5 division was Ceci, who wrote about Pete Seeger: “Pete was a folk singer, songwriter, song collector, and political activist. He helped encourage folk music that affects my life because I sing in a folk chorus and love music.”

Greta CollageThe winner of the grade K-2 division –– and the overall winner of the competition –– was Vera F., who wrote about Greta Thunberg: “Greta believes that everybody should know about this crisis of climate change and everybody should do something and put effort into it… Once I figured out about Greta and what she thinks about climate change I started to pay more attention to the world around me and I feel good about it. You can too.”

Amen to all of that! I’m so proud of these kiddos for taking the time to learn and share about these American heroes.