Writing contest sparks imagination;

Students compete in local event


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In the early weeks of May, the Harford County Branch of the Public Library reached out to inventive students about an opportunity to be included in one of their quarterly, school-wide contests.

The contest was named “Write This! Rock the Written Word!” Writers were encouraged to submit their own original short stories, poems, or both. The requirements for “Write This!” challenged students to choose a place, person, and item from the HCPL Detail Chart to include in their entries.  Participants had to create a written work that revolved around their choices. Some topics included a science lab, central park, an archivist, a skydiver, a 1928 Ford Model A, and even a jar of buttons.

In order to enter the contest, students had to be entering grades 6-12 in the upcoming fall school year and be an active user of the Harford County Public Library system.  

According to the contest facilitators, student entries were to be judged by the Librarian Police, an organization based in Harford County consisting of multiple agents with varying genders, ages, races, and education backgrounds.  There was a total amount of 10 judges; five set to review poems and five set to review short stories.

The HCPL offers two more contests to interested applicants to project their creativity in a multitude of ways.  One additional contest is “Film This!”, where students interested in drama and theater technology can submit book trailers to entice others to read some of their favorite novels.

Another contest is “Design This!” where Bel Air Branch librarian, Morgan Michael, describes the challenge as “fanfiction meeting Project Runway.”  Teens are given the option to design costumes for their favorite fandoms portrayed by clothing materials, 3D sculptures, or drawings and paintings.   

Out of over 70 short stories and poems, the winners of each category were North Harford students Julia Foster and Abigail Vaughan.

Foster’s poem “Seventeen” beat out the competition with the inclusion of a choreographer, a subway, and an abandoned, half-opened envelope with no return address.  “I drew inspiration from my reaction to the song ‘Seventeen’ by Alessia Cara. She explains her feelings about life moving on way too fast for her liking and wishes she could go back in time to days when she was young,” Foster reveals.  “I really only entered the contest because it was something that was brought to the attention of my entire class,” she explains “It’s something I would normally never do, and I definitely wasn’t expecting to win.”

Vaughan’s short story “The Letter” won over the judges with its creative ways of using a man that looked like Chris Hemsworth, a setting inside of a circus tent, and, most importantly, a letter.  “The contest was sort of like a final grade for our creative writing class with Mrs. Dallam,” Vaughan describes. “I have always loved to write, it’s one of my favorite things to do, so naturally, I was interested.”  When asked if she expected to win she replied, “Not at all actually. In fact, when I received the call that day, I had completely forgotten all about the contest and my first reaction was, “Wow!”

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