Utah English Quest

Utah English Quest is a language arts festival designed to celebrate and promote all areas of literacy.  This festival, held annually in the spring, encourages and rewards Utah students' excellence in reading, writing, speaking, presenting, filming, drawing, and acting.  The contests showcase students' expression and expertise in their use of language and communication.  All Utah students in grades 9-12 are invited to participate in this opportunity to share and present their language arts talents and abilities.

Watch a short video advertisement about Utah English Quest below, or you may click here to view the video on TeacherTube.com
(video taken at the 2009 Utah English Quest competition)

Competition Information

  • The Utah English Quest is a statewide competition for secondary level students, grades 8*-12.  Participants receive awards for outstanding performances in nineteen categories related to language arts and receive medals and awards for outstanding performances.
  • This year, the competition will be held at Weber State University  in Ogden on Friday, February 25, 2011.
  • Schools are required to bring adults judges (1 for every 10 students) to help facilitate the competition. Schools are encouraged to bring more volunteer judges than the required ratio, if possible.
  • There is a cap on how many students may attend. Public schools may only register up to 50 students and private/charter schools may only register up to 40 students.
  • *Junior highs may bring up to five (5) 8th grade students. The 8th graders may participate in ONE event and observe the two other events.
  • To receive further information, including a list of previous winners, sample writing, and sample tests, contact Mat Wenzel (Quest Chair) at (801) 859-8360 or Kim Irvine (Quest Registrar) at (801) 737-7758.
  • Driving Directions to Weber State University Ogden Campus:

    Go southbound on I-15 to 21st Street exit.  Continue east to Harrison Boulevard (approximately 4 miles). Turn right (south) on Harrison Boulevard and go approximately 3 miles to University Circle (3800 South).  Turn left on University Circle and follow directional signs. 

    Go northward on I-15 to exit 324 near Lagoon.  Travel north on US-89 to Harrison Boulevard. Turn right (north) on Harrison Boulevard and go approximately 3 miles to 4100 So.  Turn right at the first entrance into campus and follow directional signs.  

How to Enter Your Student Team

  • Registration forms may be downloaded and printed.
  • There is a $5 per student OR a $100 per school entry fee (whichever is less), payable to: UCTE English Quest
  • Mail your registration and fee by November 15th and your student registrations by December 15th to:
    Highland Junior High
    Attn: Kim Irvine
    Utah English Quest Registrar
    325 Gramercy Ave.
    Ogden, UT 84404

Event Schedule

  • Check-in: 10:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
  • Opening Assembly: 10:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
  • Judges Meeting: 10:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
  • Event 1: 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
  • Event 2: 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
  • Event 3: 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
  • Best Performances: 2:00 - 2:30 p.m.
  • Closing Assembly: 2:30 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

2011 Competition Booklist

  • My Antonia by Willa Cather
    In Willa Cather's own estimation, My Antonia, first published in 1918, was "the best thing I've ever done." An enduring paperback bestseller on Houghton Mifflin's literary list, this hauntingly eloquent classic now boasts a new foreword by Kathleen Norris, Cather's soulmate of the plains. Infused with a gracious passion for the land, My Antonia embraces its uncommon subject — the hardscrabble life of the pioneer woman on the prairie — with poetic certitude, rendering a deeply moving portrait of an entire community. Through Jim Burden's endearing, smitten voice, we revisit the remarkable vicissitudes of immigrant life in the Nebraska heartland with all its insistent bonds. Guiding the way are some of literature's most beguiling characters: the Russian brothers plagued by memories of a fateful sleigh ride, Antonia's desperately homesick father and self-indulgent mother, and the coy Lena Lingard. Holding the pastoral society's heart, of course, is the bewitching, free-spirited Antonia Shimerda. -- Mariner
  • In Search of Mockingbird by Loretta Ellsworth
    Sometimes the things that need to be discovered aren’t so easily found at home. Erin is certain that this is true in her case. A book is all that connects Erin to her mother, who died when she was a baby. But how much can Erin really learn about her mother from a tattered copy of To Kill a Mockingbird? On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, Erin decides its finally time to find out. And so begins her bus journey from Minnesota to Alabama in search of Harper Lee, the reclusive author of Mockingbird. -- Henry Holt and Co.

  • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
    In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of outliers — the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band. -- Little Brown and Co.

  • Sabriel by Garth Nix
    Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny. -- Eos

  • The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman
    They say his clothes blend into the background, no matter where he stands. They say a lot of things about the Schwa, but one thing was for sure: no one ever noticed him. Except me. My name is Antsy Bonano and I was the one who realized the Schwa was “functionally invisible” and used him to make some big bucks. But I was also the one who caused him more grief than a friend should. So if you all just shut up and listen, I’ll tell you everything there is to know about the Schwa, from how he got his name, to what really happened with his mom. I’ll spill everything. Unless, of course, “The Schwa Effect” wipes him out of my brain before I am done. -- Puffin

  • On your mark, get set, READ!

Click here to recommend a novel for next year's booklist

View a List of Previous Quest Books

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Contest Categories

Click on the description of each event to view a copy of the scoring rubric, if available.

NOTE: In all art events, there will be a digital division for art created with computers.

For the art events which involve participation in an interview (poster, book cover, photo journalism, and movie trailer), click here to view the interview scoring guide.

    • Entrants will design a book cover for one of the titles on the book list with the intent to entice readers or market the book. The cover may not exceed 8 1/2" x 14".  View Scoring Guide
    • Entrants will write a descriptive character sketch from a given prompt or topic (50 minutes).  Best handwriting and double-spacing is required.  View Scoring Guide
    • Entrants will be given a two-page document to edit in 15 minutes.  They will also be given a multiple choice test over grammar, punctuation, parts of speech, spelling, capitalization and subject-verb agreement (30 minutes).
    • Entrants will present original speeches of no longer than five minutes on a current topic. Entrants may incorporate visual aids into their speeches. Notes are limited to 3 x 5 cards.  View Scoring Guide
    • Entrants will answer ten multiple choice questions from each of the books on the book list (50 minutes).  To enter this contest, participants must have read all five books.
    • Entrants will choose one book from the English Quest book list. Each student (or team of students) will prepare a video trailer of his/her chosen book. The trailer should be at least three minutes in length, but no more than five minutes long. The trailer must meet your high school and/or school district standards and be a positive presentation of the subject. The trailer's purpose should be to interest the viewer in the book.  The trailer must contain original footage and should not contain music from the motion picture soundtrack (when applicable).   View Scoring Guide
    • Entrants will write a personal experience relating to a suggested topic (50 minutes).  Best handwriting and double-spacing is required.  View Scoring Guide
    • Entrants will write a persuasive essay from a prompt (50 minutes).  Best handwriting and double-spacing is required.  View Scoring Guide
    • Photo essays will depict themes or scenes from one of the books on the book list.  Essays should have a minimum of six original photographs and may include quotes or phrases taken from the represented book. View Scoring Guide
    • Entrants memorize and orally deliver published poem(s) by recognized poet(s). Several poems may be combined if an introduction presents the theme. Time limit is between two to five minutes. View Scoring Guide
    • Entrants will perform only work which they have created. Only one poem (on any appropriate subject and in any style) may be performed during a poet's turn. Props, musical instruments, prerecorded music, costumes, or any other objects of any kind may NOT be used. A poet may "riff off" another poet's creative work, but may not "rip off" that work. The performer may interact verbally/physically with the audience. Teams of two, three or four can compete with collaborative pieces, as long as all of the primary authors perform them.  Competitor(s) will have a maximum of three minutes to present a poem. View Scoring Guide
    • Entrants will compose a poem based on a prompt or theme. The poem must be a minimum of eight lines (50 minutes).  Best handwriting and double-spacing is required.  View Scoring Guide
    • Entering teams perform a cutting from a piece of literature that tells a story. Performance may be no longer than five minutes.   View Scoring Guide
    • Entrants will prepare and perform a monologue, no longer than 5 minutes in length, from a Shakespeare play.  View Scoring Guide
    • Entrants will prepare and perform a scene from one of Shakespeare's plays, no longer than 5 minutes.  View Scoring Guide
    • Each school will hold its own event, with winners advancing to the state Quest. Each school entered will receive a copy of the basic spelling list.
    • Entrants share memorized traditional stories from any culture or source with audience and judges. Story presentations should be a minimum of 3 minutes, but may not be longer than five minutes.  View Scoring Guide
    • Entrants will take a multiple choice test over vocabulary words both in context and in isolation. The test may include analogies, synonyms, antonyms and other techniques for demonstrating knowledge of meaning (50 minutes).

*Students entering Book Cover, Movie Trailer, and Photo Journalism contests must base their entry on one of the books on the competition booklist above.
Students entering the literature competition must read all books on the list.

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