D.C. high school seniors have a chance to win up to $2,000 in scholarship money in the fifth annual D.C. Association for Retarded Citizens/Riggs Bank scholarship program.

Interested students are required to write an essay on the subject "Mentally retarded persons are good employees because . . . ."

Essays should be 300 to 500 words and will be judged on the basis of their accuracy on the subject of mental retardation, originality and practicality of ideas presented, continuity of thought, proper use of grammar, and clear and organized expression of ideas.

Winning essays will be selected by the judging committee made up of representatives of DCARC, Riggs Bank, and public and private schools.

In each high school having at least five entries, the author of the top entry will receive a $100 savings bond, and the author of the second best entry will receive a $50 savings bond. Entries from schools with less than five participants will be grouped together as an "at-large" group.

The top 10 finalists will present their essays orally on April 25. Judges will pick the winners on the basis of written and oral work. Scholarships of $2,000, $1,000 and $750 will be awarded.

Entries must be typewritten double-spaced or handwritten legibly. An official entry form must be attached to each essay.

All entries must be postmarked on or before Feb. 15.

For more information, or to receive entry forms, call the D.C. Association for Retarded Citizens at 636-2950.