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Power Of The Pen

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Garrettsville – Alien adolescents (Yes, yes, aren’t they all?) wandered the halls of James A. Garfield Middle School on Saturday, January 15, 2011, looking for the auditorium (the Iva Walker Auditorium), looking for their assigned rooms, looking for inspiration.  It was the District Power of the Pen tournament, locally underwritten by the Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary, and attended by schools including Southeast, Crestwood, Stanton, Aurora as well as Garfield.

The standard procedure is this: Students and judges are assigned numbers–no names, please–and directed to writing rooms by number only, (No judge will read papers by any writer from his/her own district).  Writing form sheets are passed out in the rooms and each session–each grade–receives a writing prompt (a topic to be written about…how my dog got fleas, my first act as President, my deepest regret, whatever) and forty minutes in which to write.  The students then move on to their next room and the judges read the papers while a new batch of scribblers comes in to work on a new prompt.  The judges confer and sort the writings as to their perceived merits. The adjudicated writings –originals and copies–are sent to a central tabulation location, the points for placement are assigned to individuals and to teams and the number one papers from each room go to master readers for “best of round” designation.

This repeats for a total of three rounds then kids and judges break for lunch and a movie.  Tabulators and master readers continue slaving away until all papers have been read, all points awarded, all tabulations completed.  Awards time!

A table-full of trophies and awards (Thank you, Rotary!) is distributed to the assembled writers.  Some excerpts are read, some happy people come to the stage, some parents and teachers beam with pride, pictures are taken.  Team standings are met with applause and cheers; trophies go home.

Congratulations to the James A. Garfield 8th grade Power of the Pen Team for placing 4th at the district tournament. Strong finishes were made by 8th grader Lindsey Jones who placed 9th overall, 8th grader Evelyn West who placed 12th, and 7th grader Collette Rhoads who placed 11th. Crestwood’s 8th grade team took 3rd place while their 7th grade team placed 4th. Joanna Ondash (2nd), Hannah Bennett (7th) and Angelina Neno (10th) were Crestwood’s strong finishers.

And you just know that some of them will be writing about this in a journal to use again sometime in a story.