The traditional summer creative writing contest, with stories submitted by students in first grade through high school, culminated in a Zoom ceremony on October 20.
The Friends of the Palisades once again sponsored the contest, which was open to students throughout Los Angeles.
There were 34 entries this year, including 17 in the high school category. “I think having the Teen Council at our library create the theme ‘Help!’ and publicizing the contest drew more teen entries,” said contest chairperson Kathy Slattery. She thanked Francia Poma, a sophomore at New West Charter School, for designing the contest logo. Other active council members were Ashley Markatos and Marjan Labib.
Winners received gift certificates to Diesel Books in Brentwood (first place was $250, second place $100 and third place $50). Those entering could write an original short story, essay, non-fiction article, dramatic scene, monologue or poem.
At the Zoom ceremony, winners were announced in each category and actress Christine Kludjian heroically performed/read the top three stories in each category. Her usual performance partner, Bill Jones, was unable to participate.
“It’s wonderful to be back,” said Kludjian, who promised everyone, “Next year we’ll be back in the library.
She told the young writers, “The pieces this year are exceptional. You all came at the theme from different points of view, and it was just astonishing where your hearts and minds went with this.”
Most beginning writers are encouraged to “Write what you know,” and the winners generally followed that advice. Most touched on the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdowns, either directly or indirectly.
SCRIBBLERS – Grades 1 and 2:
First place went to Dylan Tierney (UCLA Lab School) for his story “Ocean Explorers,” about making a new friend during summer school and how they did ice breakers and toured around the campus. He remembered that “When you graduate from kindergarten, you walk across the bridge.” And “I wish we could go back before masks.” And how he remembered the first day of summer school “because it was the day I made a new friend.”
Second place went to Carlthorp School student William Vari for “Fisherman Fight.” After catching a gigantic fish, the hero saw a pirate approaching and knew he needed a cannon—but needed help getting the cannon downstairs from a locked room. With help, he was able to get the cannon and defeat the pirates.
Third went to “Simon Saves the World,” by Ella Kervin of Palisades Charter School. Simon and his pet monkey Coconut were able to build a time machine to go back in time and destroy the Corona virus before it changed the world.
JOTTERS – Grades 3 and 4 (no third place):
The winner was Hudson Marks (Seven Arrows) for “The Saviors,” whose character explained that he could teleport into books and help the characters, so they don’t have a bad outcome. For example, “I saved the Revolutionary War because I jumped into a history book and convinced George Washington that he needed stronger men to help him row across the Delaware.”
Second place went to Rohan Mukhopadhyay (Canyon Elementary) for his imaginative “The Protectors of the Lost Books.” “Kids had been going into the library, but no one seemed to be coming out,” he wrote. “What has happened to the librarian, Mrs. Figglewiggle? Is the new librarian hovering? Is she a Vulcan?” Our hero is eventually made “a protector of lost books.”
SCRAWLERS – Grades 5 and 6:
First place went to Riley Keston (Village School) for “Twosies,” which started: “The world is ending. Covid is going to kill us all. My parents let me rescue a cat.” She then decides, just like Noah, that two of every animal needs to be rescued. “I have two of about everything, but here’s the question: Do I take snakes? I don’t like snakes.”
The runner-up was Gabriel Kromwyck (UCLA Lab), who penned “Rip Tide.” Graham is at home doing Zoom school. He’s bored. A teacher calls on a friend, who doesn’t answer. Graham figures he’s playing games. Then his parents tell him he can go to the beach to surf, but it’s the typical June gloom. “He hasn’t surfed in a while because of Covid.” Not only does he rescue a small kid caught in a rip tide but ends up riding a big wave back to the beach.
Alexander Vari (Carlthorp) took third place with “Project Venus.” His main character, Joe Brown, had always been interested in space and wanted to work for NASA. Brown ended up building a spaceship and a launch pad and went into space – dodging meteors. He was single handedly responsible for NASA starting Project Venus.
SCRIBES – Grades 7 and 8:
“The Canovernight” by Audrey Smith (Paul Revere Middle School) took first. She wrote about a summer camp and how six cabinmates would canoe across Bass Lake and spend the night in the woods. They had arranged their bags in a circle, when a cold torrent of rain came down. “We started hugging because we knew we could get through it together. During Covid we had to face it alone . . .I was smiling because I was no longer alone.”
Rhys Grande of Viewpoint School took second for “Alone.” She wrote, “I woke white-knuckled from a dream. I was sleeping to get away from life.” A man who has lost his wife only had his dog. “If she didn’t have to be fed, I’d never have gotten up.” The man agreed to move nearer his daughter and when walking his dog met another person walking a dog. He realized, “I hadn’t met a new person in over a year.”
James Corman (Mirman School) was third for “A Mouse Tail,” written from the viewpoint of a mouse. “I must keep running. When I’m done will it be worth it? All I’ve ever known is the hole in the wall.”
AUTHORS – High School
Arrena Ruth Dorn (Brentwood School) was the winner with “The Walls of Lillian Meyer’s Room.” took first. Dorn uses the color of the walls to describe a woman’s progression into depression, from when the “walls of her room were grey” and then her slow fight to get her life back while seeing a therapist, when “the walls are a faint teal blue.”
Julia Musumeci of Palisades Charter High School took second with “Nightmares.” “Everyone has them, everyone hates them.” She describes a boy lying by her feet, dead. She is wearing a bloody shirt, holding a knife and asks, “What have I done?” She’s urged to wake up – and told her nightmares are getting out of hand—and she needs to go out of her imagination.
Park Keston (Archer School) penned “Honey Bees” to take third. “This is a story about bees, but also about me. When Covid set in, I had to accept what would be.” She learns to look at the world through rose-colored glasses. She also admires bees because they are positive all the time, they work together. She offers this advice to help repair the world: 1) don’t use pesticides; 2) keep weeds, like dandelions, because bees like them; and 3) plant native.