May 31, 2011
Alix Prybyla (left) of Hawken School near Cleveland won the Power of the Pen Promising Young Talent Award.
WOOSTER, Ohio — With pens poised to produce powerful prose, Ohio’s most promising seventh- and eighth-grade writers gathered at The College of Wooster on Friday (May 27) for the 27th annual Power of the Pen (POP) State Championship.
Nearly 700 middle school students participated in the event, which featured three 35-minute rounds on Friday morning. Prompts included invitations to write about a noble pursuit, a story around the word “clone,” and a description about how to “hang in, out, or around.” The top 15 competitors in each grade advanced to a power round in the afternoon.
In between the morning and afternoon sessions, guest author Chris Crutcher, who has written 11 books, including Running Loose and Ironman, spoke to the group about his experience as a writer. “If you want to be a writer, you have to read,” he said. “You have to find out how stories get told.” Crutcher also outlined several important tenets of writing: (1) the writer has an imagination, and (2) the reader has an imagination. The goal, he declared, is to unite the two.
Lorraine Merrill, founder of the program and a College of Wooster graduate, said Crutcher is “dedicated to youth” and that he is “not only an excellent writer, but he also draws his themes from his own real-life experiences.” Merrill added that this is what she encourages student writers to do as well because one of the goals of the program is to give students a way to express their personal voices.
The awards ceremony reflected the motto of this year’s competition, which was taken from Rodin’s famous Thinker, “Cogito ergo sum” (I think therefore I am), with the fitting addition of “scribo ergo vivo” (I write therefore I am alive). Three winners were chosen from each grade level. The top seventh-graders were Adam Berger of University School in Shaker Heights, who took first; Luke Weaver of Welty Middle School in New Philadelphia, who placed second, and Naomi Wu of Birchwood School in Cleveland, who was third. In the eighth-grade competition, Breanne Johnson of John XXIII School in Middletown finished first; Alison Jin of Hawken School in Lyndhurst came in second; and Sabrina Downey of Laurel School in Shaker Heights took third.
A number of other awards were also presented, including the Promising Young Talent Award, which went to Alix Prybyla of Hawken School, and the Creative Talent Awards, which were won by seventh-grader Hannah Bennett and eighth-grader Amanda Fosnight, both of Crestwood Middle School. In addition, the Poetry Award was presented to seventh graders Brianna Long of West Branch Middle School and Abbi Cox of Claymont Middle School, while the Humor Award was given to eighth graders Sabrine Djemil of Brecksville-Broadview Heights Middle School and Darcy Schild of Perkins-Briar Middle School.
“Power of the Pen is more than just a ‘one-shot contest,’” said Merrill, who described it as a program that gives students a place to feel safe by giving them a means to express themselves. “When students enter the program, they become empowered. It creates a love for language (and is) a cure for loneliness.”
- Written by Libby Fackler ‘13
1189 Beall Avenue, Wooster, Ohio 44691. (330) 263-2000
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