ASR Essay/Art Contest


Here is a chance for you to articulate, be it through the written word or through other artistic means, your understanding and personal connections to Kidder's Strength in What Remains.  This contest will accept an essay or piece or art (please see below for specific guidelines regarding each medium).  


All submitted pieces will be entered into a random drawing.  Prizes will also be awarded, based on contest guidelines, to a member of each form for their work (essay or piece of art).   

Random Drawing

  • iPad mini

  • iTunes gift cards

Form-wide contest

  • Publication in the Berkshire Scholar (School’s essay publication) or The Dome (School’s art publication).  See School Publications for more information.

  • Publication on Berkshire School website

  • Featured in Bulletin  (alumni magazine)

  • Attend evening reception and dine with Deo

  • Signed copy of Strength in What Remains

  • $25 gift card to Shawn’s Place


Who is eligible?

This contest is open to all Berkshire students. Students must submit original work (no previously-written academic work).


  • Deadline: during start-of-school registration

  • Please include our Honor Code Pledge: I pledge my honor that I have neither given nor received aid on this assignment.

Option #1 (Essay)


Judging Criteria

Essays will be judged by the staff and faculty members of the ASR Committee.

  • Provides a clear and interesting claim;

  • utilizes plentiful detail in development of ideas (both from the book and personal);

  • offers impressive syntactic variety with few, if any, grammatical errors; and,

  • contains overall strong organization (clear central idea, strong paragraph structure, etc.).

Prompting Questions

Please choose one of the following prompts to answer:

1.)  While making his escape to the United States, Deo views New York as a land of promise and opportunity. But when he is first in New York, living in Harlem and then Central Park, he feels lonelier than ever before. He thinks, "It was clear that to be a New Yorker could mean so many things that it meant practically nothing at all" (32). What does he mean by this (be sure to use specific examples)? What does it mean to "fit in?"  How might this relate to your personal experiences (e.g. coming to Berkshire, moving to a new school, etc.)?

2.) Toward the end of the book, as Kidder reflects on what he has seen and learned through Deo, he thinks about the value of "flush[ing] out and dissect[ing] one's memories" (as Westerners are prone to do) and wonders whether is such a thing as "too much remembering, that too much of it could suffocate a person" (248).  After reading Deo's story what do you think?  Are there moments in your life, perhaps not as extreme as Deo's, that require "too much remembering?"  Or, do you disagree that "there [is] something to be said of a culture with a word like gusimbura?  Be sure to discuss both Deo's story and your own experiences.

3.) From the moment Deo arrives in New York, he finds people who are willing to help him. Discuss the ways in which Muhammad the baggage handler, Sharon, Nancy and Charlie, and James O'Malley helped Deo get on his feet.  What common elements of community can you take away from them?  How might these common elements be relevant to your time at Berkshire?  Be sure base your answer in both Deo's story and your personal experiences.

Option #2 (Art piece)

Create an original work of art inspired by Strength In What Remains. As with any effective work of art, give care and thought to both the craftsmanship of the piece and the creative ideas behind and within it. Be bold, be original, be provocative!


  • Using the all-school read selection, Strength In What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness, as your inspiration and focus, create an original work of art in any media: drawing, painting, collage, sculpture, photography, film, music, dance, etc.
  • The piece must be able to be submitted for review; performance pieces must be recorded or filmed for later viewings.

  • Please include a brief one to two paragraph artist’s statement that articulates the major premise of your piece and how the book and your personal experiences provided inspiration for your piece. 
  • Please deliver your piece to the All School Read table at registration.


Judging Criteria

Pieces will be judged by the staff and faculty members of the ASR Committee.

  • Presents a strong central theme;

  • draws on specific references to the book;

  • demonstrates care in craftsmanship.

Prompting Question(s)

Use the essay prompts to guide your artistic interpretation of the book. How important is it to “fit in?” What is the impact of memories on your life? Is there such a thing as “too much remembering?” How important is community? What are the connections between Deo’s life and your life at Berkshire?

Berkshire School

245 North Undermountain Road
 |  Sheffield, MA 01257
 |  T: 413 229 8511

Berkshire School is a co-ed, New England college preparatory boarding and day school offering a rigorous academic course of study in the northeast United States. Our campus, located in Massachusetts, has state-of-the-art academic, artistic and athletic facilities on a stunning 400-acre campus in the Berkshires.

Berkshire School received 5 out of 5 stars from over 3 Google reviews.

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