Local Contest Inspires Students to Share Their Writing


Renate Owen

Back row, left to right: Benjamin Matthews (9ss-2nd), Elijah Royal (12p-2nd), Brendan Hylton (12ss-2nd), Christian Due (12ss-1st), Anna Willson (12p-1st), Hisham Virk (9ss-1st) Front row, left to right: Jocelyn Gettys (10ss-2nd, Megan Schulien (11p-2nd), Joy Campbell (11p-1st; 11ss-1st), Adeline Vogt (10ss-1st) Missing: Angelica Ramos (10p-1st), Alli Stup (10p-2nd)

Elise Smith, Writer

The Young Authors contest is underway, inspiring students to design realities through their writing, whether it is in the form of a short story or poem. Entries were due on November 8, but some students have been working on their stories all year.


Sophomore Alli Stup has been writing since last year’s contest, hoping to refine her skills in order to enter a piece that she is proud of when the next contest arrives. The contest provides some students with motivation to put their thoughts to paper; students like senior Elijah Royal, who says that the contest provided him with “a reason to write.” Another motivation for Royal is creative writing club, which many students that participate in  the Young Author’s Contest belong to. 


Last year’s state level winner, Cassandra Rutledge, said that she likes to write to put her emotions into literature. “It’s kind of exhilarating to put an entire world to paper so that everybody can see it,” she says, while also mentioning that winning isn’t the most important thing for her. She is merely glad to enter in the contest. 


In contrast, Stup recounted that “it would feel nice to be recognized for my writing,” admitting that winning the contest would mean a lot to her. In addition to giving winners a confidence boost, the program also publishes the works of winners. 


There is a winner for each grade level in the school, and then the county and state levels, which gives every student a better opportunity to win.


The competition is put on by the State of Maryland Literacy Association (SoMLA), which encourages the love of reading and writing through all parts of the community. At the end of the competition, SoMLA will compile the state-level winning pieces and publish them in an anthology, along with holding a celebration for the winners. The contest is available through elementary-age students to seniors in high school.


Media specialist and judge, Renate Owen, mentions that winning the contest is “something you can brag about.” 


She says that “it’s something you can put on a college application or a resume. It shows that you are an active writer and that your writing is worthy of being read.” Owen makes a point that the most avid readers make the best writers because they have a better world sense and their vocabulary is more complex. 


Fellow judge, Amy Murdoch agreed, adding that her favorite stories are those with detailed character development.


During the judging process, writing pieces are anonymous, so judges have no idea who wrote what, making the contest completely judgement-free.


Every interviewed source made a point that more students should definitely try the contest. As an example, Rutledge mentioned that she had never entered until 2018, the year that she won. “It just goes to show if you’re not going to enter, nothing is going to happen. I think if somebody is thinking about entering, they should just go for it,” she recommends.


Twelve students have been named school level finalists in the 2019-20 State of Maryland Literacy Association (SoMLA) Young Authors’ Contest. Six first place students will be moving forward to the county level competition to vie against writers of poetry and short stories from other high schools across Frederick County. Beyond that, county winners will be sent to compete at the state level. We wish them the best of luck!

 Update:  The following students on their Young Authors’ County-level Contest Awards! Our first place winners will proceed to the Young Authors’ Contest State-level Contest. 

1st place county-level winners: Hisham Virk (9th – short story), Joy Campbell (11th – poetry), Anna Willson (12th grade – poetry) They move on to compete at the state level!! Good luck.

2nd place county-level winners:  Joy Campbell (11th – short story), Christian Due (12th – short story), Angelica Ramos (10th grade – poetry)