Our schools must teach math, science, history, English and other subjects to yield a well-educated young adult. And though our kids learn writing in English class, it is usually more grammar and punctuation, and less on how to put thoughts and emotions into words. We as writers, individually or as a group, can offer our gifts. I present here how a “group” can entice our children to write, and perhaps in a follow-up article I will share how, as an individual writer, you can—I do both.
We in the Roane Writers’ Group in East Tennessee sponsor a county wide Student Writing Contest every year for grades 4 through 12. Students submit Short-Stories, Poetry, and/or Essays. The winning senior receives a $2,500 college scholarship plus $500 for books and supplies, and every grade level has winners in each category: $50 – $100. This means MANY children WIN. What better way to get kids to write than to “Pay them”? We publish all winning entries and include other good writings in an annual anthology making these kids “Published Authors”. We hold an awards ceremony at Roane State Community College, Harriman TN. It is well attended by local dignitaries, parents, teachers, friends, and of course kids, and every contributing child reads all or a portion of their creation.
These young children stand at the podium on that stage reading their creation, and let me tell you, pride, smiles, and applause fill the auditorium as they are acknowledged for their achievement. This is the first time most of these kids have been so recognized—a life altering experience. Following publication, each child is presented a copy of ‘their’ book, and you should see their faces when, unannounced, their principal walks into their classroom, and in front of all the students acknowledges that he or she is a “Published Author” as the book is presented—what a pat-on-the-back.
Your writers’ group can do this. Of course it takes a team of dedicated people and a lot of work to set up, judge, have fund raising events, and find sponsors, but when you see those beautiful, proud faces on stage, you will know it’s worth it. The rewards are simply spectacular, for nothing in the world can match changing a child’s life for the positive. Please, if within your ability, just DO IT—spawn a few new writers—won’t you?
Note: If I can help advise you in any way I would be pleased to assist.
Click Here: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Grand Prize winner in the most recent anthology was a poem by Abigail Stevenson, of Roane County High School.
Wild Words for a Waygone World
by: Abigail Stevenson
What a mind in which I live,
I don’t remember, I can’t forgive.
The truths I thought I knew, and the lies I’ve lived,
Have grown together, and around me spin.
I tried to wave them all away,
But half of me just wanted to stay.
That half of me said, “Why even bother?
What’s the point? Why struggle any longer?”
I managed though, to push those doubts away,
And violently, from that wretched prison I wrenched free.
Only to be lost in a tormented sea;
A world of people, searching just like me
We are all at war in our hearts and minds,
Our restless spirits wander without concept of time.
Waiting to be rescued from our wild illusions,
Wanting escape from our wuthering confusion.
Why are we drowned in our thoughts and sin?
Because, we have not learned how to swim.
Yes, we recklessly throw ourselves,
Into stagnant, murky water wells,
Our wearied, waygone thoughts left to ourselves.
What would mend my war-torn heart?
What could keep it in one part?
The answer I finally found (or rather, he found me),
Can help my heart have healing peace.
Whatever your will God,
Your will let me keep.
For I know that wheresoever you lead me,
There I will find water in abundance; running freely.
You have taught me how to swim,
And your crystal waters have washed my sin.
Your spirits windthrow has whisked away,
The wicked whispers that drove my heart astray.
Your warmth and light wash over me,
I’m no longer lost in that cold, waving sea.
No longer helpless, my mind is clear,
As it always will be, with your spirit here.