Mantua – At Power of the Pen competitions across Ohio, students are given a topic sentence or ‘prompt’ on the spot and have 40 minutes to write a complete short story. While the exact prompts are confidential, coach Marphy shared, “In one round, students were given the topic sentence, ‘You’ve got to be kidding’ and told to use it in their story. In another prompt students were asked to consider something that is now obsolete and write a story about it. As the competition progresses, the prompts get more difficult, and no electronic devices are permitted. At Regional and District competitions, students are permitted to use a dictionary. At the State level, however, the use of dictionaries is not permitted.
The Power of the Pen (POP) is a leading interscholastic writing program that provides a venue for 7th and 8th grade student writers to compete in writing tournament competitions throughout Ohio. While POP has been in existence for 29 years, and Crestwood Middle School has participated in the competition for approximately 25 years. Mrs. Kim Marphy and Mrs. Tammy Anfang have been the dynamic duo at the helm of the CMS program for the past 20 years.
Each CMS season of Power of the Pen begins in early November, where all students are encouraged to participate. According to Marphy, “Power of the Pen State rules allow us to bring a team of six seventh graders and six eighth graders to the district competition. We explain that all students who attend the meetings are members of Power of the Pen, yet some students are members of the travel team. Additionally, we take a few alternates to the district competition at each grade level.”
This year, the District competition was held in January at J. A. Garfield Middle School in Garrettsville. The CMS teams performed well. The 8th grade team’s Katie Fosnight took 1st, Sara Miller earned 2nd, Zoe Catcott took 4th, and Lillian Russell earned 9th place. For the 7th grade team, Amelia Wysong, earned 1st place. In addition, the CMS teams took three ‘Best of Round’ awards and the 8th grade team won 1st place overall.
The Regional competition was held at KSU in late February and individual student scores from the District competition dictated which students were invited to participate at KSU. CMS was permitted to take 3 seventh graders: Amelia Wysong, Taylor Frenz and Stephen Glova; and five eighth graders: Leah Van Horn, Zoe Catcott, Sara Miller, Katie Fosnight and Lillian Bissell. The 8th grade team placed 3rd out of 26 schools and seventh-grader Amelia Wysong placed 9th overall.
More than 7,500 students in Ohio will compete in a Power of the Pen tournament this year. Within the next few weeks, Marphy and Anfang will be notified as to which CMS students have qualified for the State tournament at Wooster College on May 22 and 23.