WASHINGTON CITY – Washington County’s landscape regularly receives accolades from tourists and journalists from across the country and world. Friday night was a chance for local students to receive praise for the accolades they wrote about that same scenery at the awards ceremony for the Washington County Youth Creative Writing Contest, themed “The Beautiful Landscape of Washington County.”
The wind did not deter the approximate 150 attendees, including proud parents, siblings and teachers, as well as the young creative writers themselves, who gathered in Washington City’s Highland Park Friday evening to recognize the budding authors’ stellar descriptions of the county’s one-of-a-kind terrain, everything from its red rocks and mountains to its streams and cottontails.
Contest organizers felt the park a fitting venue for the awards ceremony because of its sweeping views of all the scenery the county has to offer, including Red Cliffs Recreation Area, Sand Hollow the Pine Valley Mountains and even Zion’s West Temple and other monoliths.
In fact, red rocks, the Pine Valley Mountains and Zion National Park were the three most popular subjects local students chose to write about in their entries.
The awards ceremony allowed judges to recognize the winners in each category and age division, providing each winner the opportunity to read their work in front of the audience.
The contest featured two categories, poetry and personal essay, and four age divisions, 1st-3rd grade, 4th-6th grade, 7-9th grade and 10th-12th grade. It received 214 total entries with 92 of those entries in 7-9th grade poetry alone.
Most contest judges are representatives of the county’s land management and advocacy organizations, including Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, Snow Canyon State Park, the Bureau of Land Management St. George Field Office and Conserve Southwest Utah.
The judges were resoundingly dazzled by the writing they judged.
“I was impressed with the creativity and surprised by the connection these students have with nature,” said Lacey McIntyre, Red Cliffs Desert Reserve outreach and administrative coordinator, who judged the 4th-6th grade personal essays. “It was refreshing to read their excitement about being outdoors and their eagerness to return to the wilderness. Many entries had great visual imagery that transported me to where they were writing about, and it was neat to think about the wide array of features our county offers that students found to be their favorites.”
Susan Crook, of Conserve Southwest Utah, who judged the 10th-12th grade poetry, said it was hard picking a winner.
“All I can say is, ‘Wow,’’’ Crook said. “Every entry I judged deserves recognition. I wanted to give them all top marks.”
Crook even said the county’s visitors bureau should hire a few of the students to write its ad copy to attract visitors to Utah’s southwestern corner.
Fellow judge Lin Floyd, chair of Dixie Poets, said she was delighted the contest gave students the opportunity to express themselves creatively and be awarded for it.
“Giving them recognition for their efforts and prizes to reward excellence is so important in these days of digital communication — to actually write down or type their thoughts about where they live,” Floyd said. “Its beauties will change their lives to not take for granted their hometown area.”
Winners received cash and merchandise prizes. The agencies donated the merchandise, which included T-shirts, hats, water bottles and tote bags. All first place winners received an annual state parks pass donated by Snow Canyon State Park. Each winner also received a chapbook with the text of each winning entry and a certificate of achievement.
“I am so impressed with the quality and the creativity of the entries I judged,” Crook said. “I hope these young writers will keep honing their craft.”
The contest, in its first year, replaced the former Dixie Poets/Washington County School District fall poetry contest, whose organizers felt there should be one poetry contest in the fall and one in the spring instead of two contests in the fall. The other fall contest, the Chaparral Youth Poetry Contest, will continue to be in the fall.
The Washington County Youth Creative Writing Contest, along with its companion workshop in Springdale in March, will continue next year.
For more information on the workshop and contest as well as other writing opportunities for youth in the county, “like” the workshop and contest’s Facebook page.
A list of winners, as well as the text of the contest’s 1st place entries, is below.
Washington County Youth Creative Writing Contest 2018 Winners
1st-3rd grade poetry
1st place, Hanna Nehring, 3rd grade, Riverside Elementary
2nd place, Brigham Barlow, 2nd grade, Water Canyon Elementary
3rd place, Joey Robinson, 1st grade, Riverside Elementary
1st honorable mention, Warren Jeffs, 2nd grade, Water Canyon Elementary
1st-3rd grade personal essay
1st place, Olivia Timpson, 2nd grade, Water Canyon Elementary
2nd place, Aurie Young, 2nd grade, Water Canyon Elementary
3rd place, Kincade Barlow, 2nd grade, Water Canyon Elementary
1st honorable mention, Brigham Barlow, 2nd grade, Water Canyon Elementary
2nd honorable mention, Drake Johnson, 2nd grade , Water Canyon Elementary
3rd honorable mention, Seth Steed, 2nd grade, Water Canyon Elementary
4th-6th grade poetry
1st place, Alayna Carter, 6th grade, Lava Ridge Intermediate
2nd place, Tyler Page, 6th grade, Lava Ridge Intermediate
3rd place, Drew Schwartz, 6th grade, Sunrise Ridge Intermediate
1st honorable mention, Kayla Saavedra, 5th grade, LaVerkin Elementary
2nd honorable mention, Kyrah Evin, 5th grade, LaVerkin Elementary
3rd honorable mention, Toby Lee, 5th grade, LaVerkin Elementary
4th-6th grade personal essay
1st place, Payton Read, 6th grade, Sunrise Ridge Intermediate
2nd place, Mia Schumacher, 5th grade, Diamond Valley Elementary
3rd place, Mayletta Jessop, 4th grade, Water Canyon Elementary
1st honorable mention, Abigail Stout, 6th grade, Hurricane Intermediate
2nd honorable mention, Jordyn Hull, 5th grade, LaVerkin Elementary
3rd honorable mention, Venna Jaynes, 5th grade, LaVerkin Elementary
7th-9th grade poetry
1st place, Tierney Christensen, 7th grade, Lava Ridge Intermediate
2nd place, Bryce Christiansen, 7th grade, Lava Ridge Intermediate
3rd place, Nia Burgess, 8th grade, Dixie Middle School
1st honorable mention, Shelby Lofthouse, 9th grade, Hurricane Middle
2nd honorable mention, Vanessa Ricord, 7th grade, Fossil Ridge Intermediate
3rd honorable mention, Trisadee Horsley, 7th grade, Home School
7th-9th grade personal essay
1st place, Trisadee Horsley, 7th grade, Home School
2nd place, Janessa Wilding, 7th grade, Lava Ridge Intermediate
3rd place, Anna Basso, 7th grade, Lava Ridge Intermediate
1st honorable mention, Willow Shrout, 8th grade, George Washington Academy
2nd honorable mention, Kamree Rowley, 7th grade, Lava Ridge Intermediate
3rd honorable mention, Aliyah Staheli, 7th grade, George Washington Academy
10th-12th grade poetry
1st place, Shade Joines, 10th grade, Snow Canyon High
2nd place, Bethany Lowe, 11th grade, Hurricane High
3rd place, Dahlia Breiter, 10th grade Hurricane High
1st honorable mention, Margaret Alexander, 10th grade, Desert Hills High
2nd honorable mention, Maryanne Atkinson, 12th grade Pine View High
3rd honorable mention, Emily Syphus, 12th grade, Pine View High
10th-12th grade personal essay
1st place, Brynnli Borrowman, 12th grade, Pine View High
1st PLACE ENTRIES
Below are the 1st place entries in each of the categories.
1st-3rd GRADE POETRY
3rd grade, Riverside Elementary
Teacher: Jourdyn Pitcher
“Beautiful Washington County”
Shining, red mountain peaks
Fresh, glistening water creeks
A mountain’s shadow falls on the sun
Blowing leaves having so much fun
A plant covered mountain called Pine Valley
The plants and flowers are so much
Prettier than an old alley
Tall trees towering high
Their branches reach for the sky
A colorful butterfly flutters past
Its wings beat on the wind flying so fast
A grass covered ground and maybe a dirt mound.
All around red rocks in Washington I see
Buzzing around a yellow bumble bee.
1st-3rd GRADE PERSONAL ESSAY
2nd Grade, Water Canyon
Teacher: Elizabeth Lucas
“This is Why I Think Utah is a Beautiful Place”
I grew up in the beautiful landscapes of Utah. The mountains are beautiful. There is red, orange and yellow sand that is also beautiful. The mountains are safe because they protect us from tornadoes. Mountains are also dangerous because some of them are volcanic. The sky is beautiful. The sky can change color to red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple altogether. Sometimes the sky is red, orange, and yellow. The sky is blue with white puffy clouds. The flowers have petals that are red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, and pink. Flowers have beautiful green stems with beautiful green leaves. These are all the reason why I think the place I grew up in is so beautiful.
4th-6th GRADE POETRY
6th grade, Lava Ridge Intermediate
Teacher: Kamille Finklea
“Inky Black World”
At night when the sky is a midnight blue,
And the deep red mountains sing to you.
The owl is awake looking for its supper,
And you hear the wind softly mutter.
While the lush green trees sway,
Bunnies white as snow cease to play.
The crickets chirp in the dying light,
While squirrels bury nuts with all their might.
While the stars twinkle brightly above,
The moon looking pure white as a dove.
Shadows dance in the flickering moonlight,
This Inky Black World is a beautiful sight.
4th-6th GRADE PERSONAL ESSAY
6th grade, Sunrise Ridge Intermediate
Teacher: Jessica McArthur
“Pine Valley Mountain”
I’ve been here many times in my life. But out of all those times I’ve never seen this path before. I follow my mom down the windy trail lined with beautiful green plants and brightly colored flowers. Up ahead I can see the tall pine trees and the dark bark. We must be nearing the end of this beautiful path. To my right there are tall bushes and ferns the color of a lime. But to my left I see millions upon millions of tiny red and black bugs. Ladybugs! They’re so beautiful! I don’t want to leave this beautiful trail. Maybe we can come back next time? Maybe we can find another trail like this one next time we visit Pine Valley Mountain. Maybe we’ll see monarch butterflies next spring! Maybe . . . just maybe.
7th-9th GRADE POETRY
7th grade, Lava Ridge Intermediate
Teacher: Rachel Robins
Rocks so red they glow like fire
Burning sunsets for all to admire
Winding canyons where breezes explore
Twilight skies store stars galore
Rivers flow on the desert floor
Mountains that tower from the lakeshore
Everything you could ask for
And everything more
7th-9th GRADE PERSONAL ESSAY
7th grade, Home school
Teacher: Janacy Horsley
“See for yourself”
As I step out of my car and hear the dirt crunch underneath my feet, and breathe in the cold, fresh air, I feel an indescribable surge of excitement enter into my heart.
The colors melt together, from the royal blue of Pine Valley Mountain, to the red rock, to the green canopy of desert trees, standing tall against the bright blue sky. My eye catches something rustle far ahead, as a flock of small black birds fly out in a cluster, over the rolling hills.
Bright, shining ponds and lakes flow onto the dry ground. The soothing sound of the softly swishing water calms all uncertainties and fears. My mind flashes to a kayak, one of the ways to cross this amazing body of water.
Yellow chocolate flowers adorn the pebbly trail, adding a pop of color one can only imagine. Lizards and other reptiles scamper across the sun-cracked ground, only stopping to do their tiny push-ups. Layers of sandstone and black melted looking rocks prove the cycle of erosion mixed with volcanic eruptions has occurred. Dormant volcanoes lay all about, a great wonder and mystery still waiting to be solved.
Trudging up mountain-like hills, taking deep breaths in and out, enjoying the petroglyphs, and life-like, nature-sculpted rocks is an exquisite way of using your time. Once on the top you look down, upon much more hills just like the one you have accomplished.
The vibe of the nature, and the beauty that you are surrounded by is one that cannot be described by words. So, if you truly want to know, and feel this great pleasure you must see for yourself. Now is your time.
10th-12th GRADE POETRY
10th grade, Snow Canyon High
Teacher: Jasmine Pulsipher
“An Auroracliptic Zion: Sunset”
Where stone meets sky
The center glazed, by
Shattered light of sunbeams gold.
The whispered breeze
Plays juniper trees,
And scatters rays ‘cross canyon old.
The sparkled beams
Caught in wind gust, gleams
Brightly on clouds’ pillared form.
Then fall as rain
Piercing sky white stain,
Bright sparks doused in the river’s storm.
The silent splash
Of rushing blue, lash
Sunlight to the rippled waves,
Descends the wall,
The crashing waterfall
Like diamonds to the drowner’s grave.
The fleeing light
Breaks from the path, flight
Dammed before a streak of shade,
And marred twilight
The skies annual blight
Advances as the evening fades
The final strands
From solar star, stands
Crowned upon the canyon’s height.
Ruled by red-tipped stones
As sunlight bleeds into the night.
10th-12th GRADE POETRY
12th grade, Pine View High
Teacher: Mr. Roberts
I stand on the bank of the Virgin River. The water is a muddy-brown trickle, and cracks in the earth spider web from my feet. I can barely breathe for the heat. My hair sticks to my sweaty neck and my eyes are closed against the sun. Slowly, they adjust, both to the light and my surroundings. I look to the north and see a layered cake, red-black-purple. Gritty red rock as a base, carved and twisted by centuries of wind, with glossy obsidian for the filling, and a hazy purple Pine Valley topping. The raging Spring storms contrast starkly with the usual crystal skies, the horizon sharp enough to split a hair. A line of pale green follows the river. There is beauty in this desert. Washington County is an acquired taste. At first glance it is dry, prickly, lifeless. Summer brings a stifling heat that drives all but the hardiest to the shelter of shade and air conditioning. Brittle grass clings to life by a thread, and heat waves radiate upward from the pavement. At second glance, however, one can see majesty in the dryness. It is not the lauded beauty of lush greenery and plentiful water-it is the beauty of strength and survival.
Ed. note: The author of this report is one of the organizers of the contest.
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