Friends of the Library President Laura Schneider welcomed about 50 contestants and parents to an after-school award ceremony for the summer creative writing contest held at the Palisades Library on October 6.
“We’re so happy to have the event back here after two years of virtual events,” Schneider said, and noted, “This is the first event to be held in the Community Room since Covid.”
Annually, students in grades kindergarten through high school are invited to write an original story, essay or poetry during the summer. They are judged and winners selected. This year there were 27 entries.
At the ceremony, the top three stories in each of the categories is read/acted by professional actors Bill Jones and Christine Kludjian. “Writers” are generally thrilled to hear their words come alive.
“Thank you for having me back,” Jones said. “It never ceases to amaze me – the minds of the writers.”
Kludijian said, “I’m so happy we’re back in this room together. We’ve been doing this about 15 years. We’ve seen people start in first and second grade and go all the way through high school.”
The CTN editor, who has attended this ceremony for years, felt the stories this year were of a higher quality and more personal than prior contests.
One of the judges agreed, saying she felt the choice of the theme “Bouncing Back,” was helpful.
“The lockdowns dealt all of us an emotional wallop,” the judge wrote, “The hopeful angle of return and healing I think was welcome for the young writers. Also, it was something that pressed the writers to delve into their own stories and create something fresh. The students produced excellent work.”
In the Scribbler’s category, which is Grades 1 and 2, there was only one entry, which meant Dilg Kazuya (Viewpoint School) took first place with “Flame of Fire Fangs.”
The Jotter’s category, Grades 3 and 4, third place went to the “The Library of Time,” by Reese Flowers (Village School). Twins discover they could time travel in their own home.
Second place went to William Vari (Carlthorp School) for “Rescue from Bent.” The hero went in a spaceship to Bent to rescue his dad, who had been nabbed by some bad guys.
The top prize went to Ella Kervin (Palisades Charter Elementary) for “Dragon Island.” When the captain realized, a storm was going to destroy his ship, he told the girls to jump and try for the island. There they met a 10-foot-tall dragon with red wings and a black spikey tail. The girls befriended the dragon and then had to save him from an evil sushi chef, who was befouling the water.
The Scrawler’s category, Grades 5 and 6, saw a tie between a cleverly worded story “Fusili” by Riley Keston (Archer School for Girls) and “The Wolves of Yellowstone” by Hudson Marks (Seven Arrows).
“I used to follow all the rules. I was a goody-two shoes . . .until I met Ravioli,” Keston wrote in this entertaining story.
Marks wrote about the issues with the protection of wolves, which was an absolutely fascinating true story, that he researched.
Second place went to “Hoop It Up,” by Chloe Frazier (Sycamore Community School), about making the basketball championships. “I was the best on the court,” she wrote. “Just kidding, I stunk.” She talked about wanting to quit, but her family said, “We don’t give up.”
Did they win? CTN urges you to read the story on the Friends website.
First place was Noah Benharash’s “Goodbye Paws,” which made this editor cry.
A student at Paul Revere Charter, Benharash spoke about his routine, which included taking care of his pet. Then his pet had to go to the emergency room. “I couldn’t stop thinking about Paws. I stayed home from school.” This story also has an incredibly sweet ending – and I urge you to read it.
The Scribes category is Grades 7 and 8. Jordan Avdul (Willows Community) took third for “Friendship,” which spoke about making new friends at the school because, “My best friend moved away last year.”
Second place was “The Acorn Harvest” by Lucas Woo (Mirman School). A squirrel family starts harvesting acorns, when Benny, the squirrel, who was on his first-ever acorn hunt, has an allergic reaction to acorns. “You have a bad case of hives,” he was told. Luckily, he meets Woodrow the gopher, who shows him there are alternatives.
First place went to James Corman (Mirman School) for “In My Yard.” Orioles build a nest in a tree in his yard, and he watches as they hatch the eggs. Hawks are a threat he worries about.
Eventually two of the babies turn into juveniles and fly off, but the third doesn’t. He finds it in the yard with gashes below its wings. The family takes the bird to a wildlife center, hoping they can help the bird.
Authors are students in High School. There was a tie for third between Jessica Envati (Le Lycee Francais) and Ashley Markatos (New West Charter School).
Envati in “Waking Up” spoke about taking a terrible fall that left her hero in a comma. Her father had been killed by a drunk driver earlier and she wanted to go be with him. She works through the possibilities if she would live and is shown what she could be. “It’s waiting for you.”
Markatos in “Only by Genetics” speaks of a girl, whose father has never been there for her. How she’s spent her growing up years, waiting for him to visit and constantly being disappointed. “You never deserved to be my father,” she wrote. “I’m done being there only when you want me.”
The top two places went to Palisades High School students. Second went to Julia Musumeci for “Love as a Bounce.” “He watched from the outside and liked it – he lived through and for her. He believed their souls to have touched until love turned to reality.”
Chaz Plager took first place for “Little Boy Lost.” (Plager works as an intern for CTN and we’ll print his first-place story in it’s entirety in another issue.)
Friends’ judges this year were Lynn Gaines, Arline Halper, Nina Kidd, Renee Klein, and Laura Schneider, who considered stories on creativity, originality, effort, plot and theme.
Students who received first place won a $250 gift certificate to Diesel Books, second place was $100 and third place was $50. All entrants received certificates and McConnell’s ice cream coupons.