Landscapes that Inspire: 2019 winners of the Washington County Youth Creative Writing Contest

Winners and their parents gather for the Washington County Youth Creative Writing Contest awards ceremony at Highland Park in Washington City, Utah, May 17, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Mikell Terry, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY — Young writers and their families from all across Washington County gathered in Washington City’s Highland Park to celebrate their achievements as winners of a creative writing contest.

Over 240 students from 1st through 12 grades entered poetry or personal essays written on the theme “Landscapes that Inspire” in the 2019 Washington County Youth Creative Writing Contest. Winning writers wrote about landscapes ranging from Lake Louise in British Columbia to Snow Canyon State Park to their own backyards.

Contest organizers felt the park a fitting venue for the awards ceremony because of its sweeping views of local landscapes that inspire, including Red Cliffs Recreation Area, Sand Hollow, the Pine Valley Mountains and Zion’s West Temple and other monoliths.

Contest judges included representatives from the area’s land management and advocacy organizations, including Snow Canyon State Park and Conserve Southwestern Utah, as well as local English teachers. Several organizations and businesses from around the county donated merchandise as prizes, including Snow Canyon State Park, Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, Zion National Park Forever Project, Silver Reef Museum, Bumbleberry Inn and Zion Canyon Clothing and Gift.

First through third place winners also received money donated by local residents.

The contest, in its second year, provides an opportunity for students to write creatively and be recognized for their talents by more than just by their teacher’s grade.

The Washington County Youth Creative Writing Contest, along with its companion workshop at Springdale’s Canyon Community Center in March, will continue next year.

For more information about the workshop and contest, as well as other writing opportunities for youth in the county, visit the workshop and contest’s Facebook page.

A list of this year’s winners, as well as the text of the contest’s 1st place entries, is below:

Washington County Youth Creative Writing Contest 2019 Winners

1st-3rd grade poetry

  • 1st place, Bennett Dunkley, 2nd grade, Red Mountain Elementary
  • 2nd place, Cydnee McLeod, 2nd grade, Enterprise Elementary
  • 3rd place, Braylee Chesley, 1st grade, Diamond Valley Elementary
  • 1st honorable mention, Keston Cobb, 2nd grade, Enterprise Elementary
  • 2nd honorable mention, Mikiah Herron, 3rd grade, Riverside Elementary

1st-3rd grade personal essay

  • 1st place, Sage Calobeer, 1st grade, Bloomington Hills Elementary
  • 2nd place, Tauati Taulogo, 1st grade, Bloomington Hills Elementary
  • 3rd place, Webb Richards, 1st grade, Bloomington Hills Elementary         
  • 1st honorable mention, Beckham Bingham, 1st grade, Bloomington Hills Elementary
  • 2nd honorable mention, Abby White, 1st grade, Bloomington Hills Elementary
Jenny Drummond (back), 4th grade teacher at Sunset Elementary poses with her winning students (l-r) Cayson Terry, Embry Bowler and Bennett Snow after the Washington County Youth Creative Writing Contest awards ceremony at Highland Park in Washington City, Utah, May 17, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Mikell Terry, St. George News

4th-6th grade poetry

  • 1st place, Cayson Terry, 4th grade, Sunset Elementary
  • 2nd place, Grace Brown, 4th grade, Sunset Elementary
  • 3rd place, Travis Murdock, 5th grade, Majestic Fields Elementary
  • 1st honorable mention, Aiden Belcher, 5th grade, Majestic Fields Elementary
  • 2nd honorable mention, Caysen Merrihew, 5th grade, Majestic Fields Elementary
  • 3rd honorable mention, Embry Bowler, 4th grade, Sunset Elementary

4th-6th grade personal essay

  • 1st place, Pamela Jessop, 6th grade, Water Canyon Elementary
  • 2nd place, Logan Gosnell, 6th grade, Tonaquint Intermediate School
  • 3rd place, Hayden Gibbons, 5th grade, Little Valley Elementary
  • 1st honorable mention, Merilyn Allred, 4th grade, Water Canyon Elementary
  • 2nd, honorable mention, Kennedi Smith, 5th grade, Majestic Fields Elementary
  • 3rd honorable mention, Bennett Snow, 4th grade, Sunset Elementary
Utah Online School 7th grader Sage Bonell poses with his certificate and prizes at the Washington County Youth Creative Writing Contest awards ceremony at Highland Park in Washington City, Utah, May 17, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Rachel Bonell, St. George News

7th-9th grade poetry

  • 1st place, Sydney Rue, 7th grade, George Washington Academy
  • 2nd place, Sage Bonell, 7th grade, Utah Online School
  • 3rd place, Ianna Derrick, 9th grade Hurricane Middle School
  • 1st honorable mention, Ivy Dalton, 9th grade, Dixie Middle School
  • 2nd honorable mention, Lucy Benson, 7th grade, Lava Ridge Intermediate School
  • 3rd honorable mention, Annie Houston, 9th grade, Hurricane Middle School

7th-9th grade personal essay

  • 1st place, Rebecca Wentz, 7th grade, Fossil Ridge Intermediate School
  • 2nd place, Avery Stephens, 8th grade, Dixie Middle School
  • 3rd place, Amy Lam, 7th grade, Fossil Ridge Intermediate School
  • 1st honorable mention, Trisadee Horsley, 8th grade, Home School
  • 2nd honorable mention, Cheyenne Sperry, 7th grade, Fossil Ridge Intermediate School
  • 3rd honorable mention, Laney Gibson, 8th grade, Dixie Middle School

10th-12th grade poetry

  • 1st place, Margaret Alexander, 10th grade, Desert Hills High School
  • 2nd place, Ashlynn Smith, 11th grade, Pine View High School
  • 3rd place, Christian Paystrup, 10th grade, Snow Canyon School
  • 1st honorable mention, Taylor Holt, 10th grade, Snow Canyon High School
  • 2nd honorable mention, Zarian Schick, 12th grade, Dixie High School
  • 3rd honorable mention, Katherine Park, 12th grade, Snow Canyon High School

10th-12th grade personal essay

  • 1st place, Ellie Wittwer, 10th grade Dixie High School
  • 2nd place, Kennedy Cosson, 11th grade Dixie High School
  • 3rd place, Bianka Geraldo, 12th grade, Snow Canyon High School
  • 1st honorable mention, Taya Anderson, 11th Snow Canyon High School
  • 2nd honorable mention, Brady Olsen, 11th Snow Canyon High School
Don Gilman climbing in Snow Canyon State Park, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Don Gilman, St. George News

 

1st-3rd GRADE POETRY – 1st PLACE

Bennett Dunkley, 2nd grade, Red Mountain Elementary

¨My Favorite Place¨

My favorite place to go

is a valley called Joe’s

It has big reddish brown rocks

covered with green icky moss.

But my dad loves to climb them

putting his fingers and toes

in small little holes.

And I watch from below

by the bare little trees

that still need to grow

just like me.

 

1st-3rd PERSONAL ESSAY – 1st PLACE

Sage Calobeer, 1st grade, Bloomington Hills Elementary

“Alaska Ocean”

I love the Alaska ocean because the Alaska ocean has huge halibut and sea urchins and crabs. The crabs are huge to me! In the ocean you can find shells. The waves shine when the sun shines down on the waves. There are so many creatures in the ocean. This is why I love going to  the Alaska ocean.

Hikers scurry up ridges cut in the Navajo sandstone of Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, Nov. 27, 2009 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

 

4-6 POETRY – 1st PLACE

Cayson Terry, 4th grade, Sunset Elementary

“Snow Canyon State Park”

Snow Canyon State Park

rocks – white as snow

look like an oreo

with a little black in the rocks

water falls when it rains

lizards, birds and snakes

having fun in the sun

always having a great time

the red-orange sand dunes

where the wildlife plays

all the sagebrush surrounding the trails

what a beautiful sight that can be

 

4-6 PERSONAL ESSAY – 1st PLACE

Pamela Jessop, 6th grade, Water Canyon Elementary

“Lavender Trail”

The landscape that inspires me is called Lavender Trail, a meadow of lavender reaching far across the land, swallowing your mind in its beauty. Just imagine floating on a lovely violet cloud with the sweet scent of lavender and the beautiful, golden sunset shimmering behind you. Lavender trail inspires me because it looks like a place where dreams have come true and happiness has been found. The purple flowers covering the landscape make the place glow with imagination. As you walk down the paths and rows, you feel the sweet breeze ruffle your hair and you see the golden sunset sinking behind the mountain to lighten the world elsewhere.

This magnificent wonderland is like the setting in a dream, a place where your imagination can run wild or blow away with the wind to bring happiness to the people and places it flies away to. Purple is a peaceful color, a color that spurs the imagination and brings peace and happiness to the eye of the beholder. The lavender flowers reflect on the sunlight to reveal a beautiful purple hue on the sky and clouds. This place is like a fairy tale, a fantasy world where you could be perfectly at peace. If you ever get the chance to go there, go. Go find your perfect happiness in the lovely blood filled violet fields of Lavender Trail.

 

7-9 POETRY – 1st Place

In this file photo, Aspen Mirror Lake, a popular fishing spot, reflects the clouds above, Duck Creek, Utah, July 15, 2017 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

Sydney Rue, 7th grade, George Washington Academy

“Lake Louise”

I wish I could stay here

This lake of tropical blue

So cold to the touch

but it gives me so much

 

The inspiration to write this

a poem about these mountains

that jag out and form a natural wonder

Pirates of old would love to plunder

 

But they could never get me

sitting upon this mountain of rocks

that took me long enough to scramble

the scratches on my legs from the bramble

 

I close my eyes and I go back there

because I wish I could go back

to the beautiful lake in Canada

where I go whenever I sleep

 

Where I would forever stay

in Lake Louise

 

7-9 PERSONAL ESSAY – 1st Place

Rebecca Wentz, 7th grade, Fossil Ridge Intermediate

“Blue Heaven”

Car stops, doors open, coolers, umbrella, towels, and sunscreen are carried. Excited energy crackles around you. The sight of the endless source takes your breath away. Dropping the equipment, you run towards the deep blue.

Kicking off your shoes, you seem to fly across the sizzling dunes. Your feet kick up billowing clouds of sand as you run. Crashing into the waves, you laugh, joined by the seagulls racing above the waves looking for lunch. You let yourself fall into the depths, waves crashing over your face stinging your eyes and cheeks.

The sounds muffle as you are thrown under the torrent of the ocean. Your body scrapes against the rough sand. Sitting up, you rub your ocean-kissed eyes. You charge deeper into nature’s greatest pride. You can almost taste the sharp, bitter tang of the salt.

Spinning, jumping, dancing, you let the water take control. Moving as one, you flow endlessly up and down, up and down. One moment pulled by the relentless current, the next racing to the shore as a wave hits you like lightning. As you drag yourself out of the surf, you spot a dazzling shell getting quickly devoured by its master.

Racing, you grab it–feeling its features and holding it close. Never wanting something so badly, you race back to the dry, forgiving sand. Putting your prize to your ear, you can hear the soft rushing of water and can feel the waves enveloping you. Laying back, you listen to the waves crack like thunder and the peaceful silence that follows.

You close your eyes and let your battered body sink into the golden blanket. Sighing, you let the never-failing rays of the sun hit you, and it is then you realize this is a paradise worthy of a thousand standing ovations.

 

10-12 Grade Poetry – 1st place

Margaret Alexander, 11th grade, Desert Hills High School

A Virgin River access point along the trail that boasts a rope swing attached to an old Cottonwood tree, Confluence Park, LaVerkin, Utah, Dec. 15, 2018 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

“Song of the River”

Searching skies swept the earth when the River found the Sun.

Revealing a pathway it leads, forever changing.

 

This watery thread can outrun and beat

the canyon like a needle through a thread.

The stars in the sky are past eternity,

pearls of our heaven’s majesty.

 

Folds in the earth push up its sides

As light bends black drips from auburn rocks.

They have remained for years aside,

Each golden ray bearing pride.

 

Watch for Rocks, the sign reads too simply.

The wonders ahead are hard to miss–

An unparalleled paradigm of a natural mystery.

The violet edge of dusk is awake and early.

 

I follow the river in reverse to find an origin

Before Spanish missionaries arrived.

In this valley here and within,

They adorned it with the name of Mary, the Virgin.

 

The beginning, the edge, the threshold.

Why does the River run?

The hearth of the horizon is warm not cold,

The journey is long, the destination foretold.

       

The billowing arch of night makes a veil

Over Mother Earth, her sleeping silhouette

Stretched over a rock bed, a lesson to tell:

Tomorrow, I will try again without fail.

 

Wandering water searches where dreams meet the sky.

Creating its own way it progresses, never ceasing.

 

10th-12th Grade Personal Essay – 1st Place

Ellie Wittwer, 10th grade, Dixie High School

“Blissful Treachery”

I like the woods which accompany my grandmother’s house. One of my favorite things is to sit here on this wobbly board that stretches across the creek while doing nothing. Give the blame of my motion’s halt to the luring and mischievous woods, waning from others is its true nature for bliss.

Among the trees, dark and twisted branches resemble crooked fingers obscuring the sky from existence. Leaves float to the ground and then celebrate a glorious renaissance, having mustered enough life to appear triumphantly after winter while the roots support the tree above like an act of secret service.

I like to view bark as the Joan of Arc of trees, a warrior in disguise. Frail and bitter looking, the bark deploys an insurmountable heart of security for the tree that needs the leaves, needs the roots, and needs the bark to survive. Without it, it is but a stump of matter.

Now here is a gritty topic: dirt. I once heard that “dirt” is not real; it is supposed to be called “soil.” I guess I will use the proper term. The dirt, excuse me, soil, must be ancient and filled with wisdom because it never dies. How else would the young trees be growing? If the soil is so well-seasoned and wise, why is it walked on?

Adjacent to the dirt is a stream. The stream is the only noisy thing around. Even the animals creeping nearby keep to themselves. It’s always busy and traveling quickly, and no one should get in its way. What would happen if I replaced it with molasses? Would time slow down as well? I wish the ambitious stream were slower because it is too fast. In the end, it is just a memory, dried up from existence, nothing more than dirt.

Email: rwadsworth@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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