2016 Write Challenge Focuses on 'Reality' K-12 Writers Can Compete in District's Annual Contest

2016 Write Challenge Focuses on 'Reality' K-12 Writers Can Compete in District's Annual Contest
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Is your student a budding Shakespeare? Or the next Elizabeth Barrett Browning? If so, the 2016 “Write Challenge” is an excellent way for them to blossom as a young author. This year’s contest theme is “reality” and it’s is open to all Lakota students in grades K-12.

“We encourage students to interpret the topic any way they want,” said event organizer and Lakota LEADS past-president Angela Grimm. “It’s fabulous to see where their imagination and creativity can take them. Some write personal essays and poems that are intense or moving and some choose to go in completely the opposite direction—light-hearted, fantasy stories that transform you to another world.”

The Write Challenge has three categories that students can enter: poetry, personal essay and narrative-- fiction or non-fiction. Students compete based on grade brackets and judges are university professors, professionals, local educators and others who are passionate about writing. Students can enter one category or all three.

“I was first encouraged by my parents to enter the first-ever Write Challenge as a second-grader with a hobby of writing poetry. When I heard my poem had won first place I was shocked and hooked on the Write Challenge,” said student participant Michelle Ballman. “Since then, I have entered the competition nearly every year, expanded my horizons to narratives as well, and pulled out several more wins. This program has been an amazing opportunity for me to expand on my creativity, gain confidence in my writing abilities, and learn a lot in the process.”

The Write Challenge was originally started by Lakota’s Gifted Services and then supported by LEADS beginning three years ago. LEADS parent group’s mission is to provide enrichment opportunities for all students in the district. The group sponsors activities like the recent Pi Day, brings in speakers as part of a Parent Connect Series, and hosts student book clubs.

Jean Fox, second grade teacher at VanGorden Elementary, has seen her students explore writing in a new way through the contest. “By participating in the Write Challenge writing contest, all of my students grew as writers. The contest allowed my students to choose the genre they would use to explore last year’s theme, ‘Grit.’”

And for the winners of the contest, Grimm said, “The Celebration of Writing Reception that we hold is a wonderful evening for students and families. A local author shares with the students their journey of writing and inspires these young authors to keep moving forward with their passion.”

This was echoed by Fox. “My students who were recognized at the awards program were proud of their ability to express themselves as writers. And, I appreciated the opportunity for them to be recognized outside of the classroom. It was a wonderful experience for all.”

LEADS is currently accepting writing submissions. All entries are due on April 4 and must be submitted electronically to lakotawritechallenge@gmail.com. Winners of this year’s Write Challenge will be invited to the Celebration of Writing Reception on May 12. For more about the contest, including anthologies of past winners, visit the LEADS website.

Winners of last year's Write Challenge shown here at the Celebration of Writing Reception.

Local author Doug Coates shared some inspirational messages at last year's Celebration of Writing Reception.