WASHINGTON — Even in a pandemic year, when travel has been somewhat restricted, many Washington County students are still “Going Places” through their writing by recounting treasured trips to real or imaginary places, or detailing goals they or someone they know has achieved.
These young writers and their families gathered Wednesday evening in Washington City’s Highland Park to celebrate their achievements as winners of the Washington County Youth Creative Writing Contest. The contest, now in its fourth year, received approximately triple the entries it did last year. Six-hundred, sixty-seven students from first through 12th grade entered either a poem or a personal essay written on the theme “Going Places.”
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 from around the county donated money or merchandise as prizes, including Z-Arts, A.R.T.S., Inc., the St. George Literary Arts Festival, Snow Canyon State Park, Greater Zion, the Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum, the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site, Dig Paddlesports and the Zion National Park Forever Project. In addition to a merchandise prize, each winner received a certificate and a chapbook containing the text of all of the winning entries.
The contest provides an opportunity for students to write creatively and be recognized for their talents by more than just their teacher’s grade-level. Several teachers made a submission to the contest an assignment as part of their curriculum.
Jenny Drummond, a fourth grade teacher at Diamond Valley Elementary, said the contest gave her students a focus and theme to write about in two different styles of writing: essay and poetry.
“Teachers are always the best motivators for students, and I pumped them up,” Drummond said. “The possibility of prizes was a bonus, but I feel they were excited to just be able to enter. So overall, even though it was an assignment by their teacher, it was a fun one.”
Susan Wiese, English teacher at Hurricane Intermediate School, said she enjoyed discussing literal and figurative ways of “going places” with her students.
“It was neat to see 12- and 13-year-olds reflect on places they have physically gone, which were enjoyable, and maybe what more they would have wanted to experience,” Wiese said. “They also shared dreams of things they would love to accomplish. Taking time to describe those ideas in writing was great for them.”
Poetry is a major focus for students in Water Canyon High School English teacher David Mackey’s class because, he believes, it encourages creative writing skills and demonstrates a lot of literary devices. The contest came at an optimal time for him because he placed particular emphasis on poetry during the 4th quarter.
“I was astounded by what the students produced, and told them that each piece was an award-winning poem in my book,” he said. “I let them know from the beginning of the assignment that while they were not required to enter the contest, the quality of their writing deserved submission.”
All teachers interviewed said that it is important to have contests such as the Washington County Youth Creative Writing Contest for students to enter.
“I think it’s important for students to enter contests so they can get published, get recognition, and it looks good on Sterling Scholar applications,” said Crimson Cliffs High School English teacher Jennifer Youngberg.
“I think it’s important for students to enter writing contests because it gives them a purpose and focus,” Drummond said. “They have a theme to adhere to, and also a deadline. The deadline is crucial for those students who struggle with time management.”
“I believe it is extremely important for students to feel a connection with other students throughout the district, that they are creating something that can perhaps be appreciated by a wider audience; that their thoughts really do have meaning and value,” Mackey said. “I do not like to turn the focus to the idea of ‘competing against’ other students, but more on the opportunity to be part of a bigger community and united activity.”
Brandi Fundingsland, an English teacher at Fossil Ridge Intermediate School, said its English department enjoyed giving students the opportunity to shine not just in the classroom, but within the community.
“Our students were motivated by the opportunity for recognition, prizes, and the thrill of competition,” Fundingsland said.
The contest will continue next year with a different theme.
A list of this year’s winners, as well as the text of the contest’s 1st place entries, is below:
2021 Washington County Youth Creative Writing Contest Winners
First-third grade poetry
1st place, Jentri Hansen, 3rd grade, George Washington Academy, Mrs. Stover
2nd place, Dustin Bundy, 3rd grade, Three Falls, Mrs. Tribble
3rd place, Anuhea Nau, 3rd grade, Riverside, Mrs. Bluemel
1st honorable mention, Lucy Watkins, 2nd grade, Riverside, Mrs. Decker
2nd honorable mention, Amelia Rogers, 3rd grade, Heritage, Mrs. Phillips
First-third grade personal essay
1st place, Baylee Higgins, 2nd grade, Riverside, Mrs. Smith
2nd place, Killan Martin, 3rd grade, Heritage, Mrs. Phillips
3rd place, Brooklyn Matthews, 3rd grade, Riverside, Mrs. Bluemel
1st honorable mention, Nathaniel Corpaci, 2nd grade, Bloomington Hills, Mrs. Tea
2nd honorable mention, Kaleah Beckstrand, 3rd grade, Heritage, Mrs. Phillips
3rd honorable mention, Amelia Rogers, 3rd grade, Heritage, Mrs. Phillips
Fourth-sixth grade poetry
1st place, Bradford Davidson, 5th grade, Three Falls, Mrs. Zwhalen
2nd place, Kara Blakely, 6th grade, Sunrise Ridge, Mrs. Eckman
3rd place, Emmett Riding, 6th grade, Tonaquint, Mrs. Whitehead
1st honorable mention, Carter Peterson, 4th grade, Coral Canyon, Mrs. Bennett
2nd honorable mention, Naomi Mathews, 5th grade, Crimson View, Mrs. Andrew
3rd honorable mention, Kolbie Smith, 6th grade, Tonaquint, Mrs. Shaw
Fourth-sixth grade personal essay
1st place, Zac Werrett, 6th grade, HIS, Mrs. Esplin
2nd place, Emma Sullivan, 5th grade, Crimson View, Mrs. McKellar
3rd place, Tegan J. Carpino, 6th grade, WFIS, Mrs. Carpenter
1st honorable mention, Maisy Gardner, 4th grade, Diamond Valley, Mrs. Drummond
2nd honorable mention, Austin Harker, 4th grade, Crimson View, Mrs. Thieme
3rd honorable mention, Junior Mendoza, 4th grade, Coral Canyon, Mrs. Bennett
Seventh-ninth grade poetry
1st place, Eliza Pond, 8th grade, Snow Canyon MS, Mrs. Nesmith
2nd place, Lillian Welsh, 8th grade, Hurricane MS, Mrs. Riach
3rd place, Alayna Carter, 9th grade, Snow Canyon MS, Mrs. Robertson
1st honorable mention, Jade Richardson, 9th grade, Pine View MS, Mrs. Paul
2nd honorable mention, Brooklyn Chappell, 9th grade, Snow Canyon MS, Mrs. Robertson
3rd honorable mention, Sariah Jones, 7th grade, Fossil Ridge, Mrs. Munro
Seventh-Ninth grade personal essay
1st place, Brooklyn Jackson, 7th grade, Lava Ridge, Mrs. Ehlers
2nd place, William Wall, 7th grade, Fossil Ridge, Mrs. Rodgers
3rd place, Ana Carnavale, 7th grade, Washington Fields, Mrs. Powers
1st honorable mention, Hailey Layton, 7th grade, Fossil Ridge, Mrs. Fundingsland
2nd honorable mention, Lydia Hafen, 9th grade, Crimson Cliffs MS, Mrs. Shepard
3rd honorable mention, Eden Smith, 7th grade, Sunrise Ridge, Mrs. Hendrixson
10th-12th grade poetry
1st place, Whitney Arnold, 11th grade, Crimson Cliffs HS, Mrs. Youngberg
2nd place, Pyper Bailey, 11th grade, Crimson Cliffs HS, Mrs. Youngberg
3rd place, Alex Lawrence, 10th grade, Water Canyon HS, Mr. Wixom-Burdick
1st honorable mention, Ella Anderson, 11th grade, Dixie HS, Mrs. Lewis
2nd honorable mention, Andrew Foster, 11th grade, Dixie HS, Mrs. Lewis
3rd honorable mention, Arie Johnson, 10th grade, Crimson Cliffs HS, Mrs. Robins
10th-12th grade personal essay
1st place, Payton Feltner, 10th grade, Crimson Cliffs HS, Mrs. Robins
2nd, place, Heinz Kirchhausen, 11th grade, Crimson Cliffs HS, Mrs. Youngberg
3rd place, Dora Arredondo, 11th grade, Tuacahn HS, Mrs. Aikens
1st honorable mention, Ami Dutson, 11th grade, Crimson Cliffs HS, Mrs. Youngberg
2nd honorable mention, Kylee Feltner, 10th grade, Crimson Cliffs HS, Mrs. Robins
3rd honorable mention, Andrew Ord, 10th grade, Snow Canyon HS, Mrs. Pulsipher
Text of first place winners
1st Place: First-third grade poetry
Jentri Hansen, third grade
George Washington Academy, Mrs. Stover
No, No, We Can’t Go
“Hey mom, can I play with my friend?”
“The virus isn’t even on the mend!”
No, no, you can’t go.
Time for quarantine, now I’m stuck on a stupid screen.
“Hey mom, can we go outside?”
“No! I would rather go and hide.”
No, no, we can’t go.
Online school, now I’m looking like a fool.
“Hey mom, can we go to the library?”
“No! Corona is way too scary!”
No, no, we can’t go.
Social distancing really shouldn’t be a thing!
“Hey mom, can we go for a swim?”
“The chances of that are slim.”
No, no, we can’t go.
I think, COVID really stinks!
One day, COVID will just go away,
Yay! Yay! I can go and play!
1st Place: First-third grade personal essay
Baylee Higgins, 2nd grade
Riverside Elementary, Mrs. Smith
I would like to talk to you about the winter of 2018. That winter was when my family and I went to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I was so excited to go to Disney World. On the plane, I sat in the window seat so I was able to see the cotton ball-like clouds. Even though I had been to Disney World many times, the part I was most excited about was that my two brothers-in-law were coming who have never been to Disney World before. We were all so excited to get there.
During that week of being at Disney World it was very packed because it was the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Christmas decorations were still on display down Main Street and it felt like being home in Utah even though it was 80 degrees in Central Florida! Because we had been to Disney many times, my mom knows a few tricks on how to get past the lines. We never had to stay in the lines longer than an hour, and were able to get on all the rides. It has been a few years since our last trip, and because of that a couple of new rides opened, my favorite was The Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom.
As our week was coming to an end, the magic was slowly fading, but I realized that I would, some day, be able to come back to the “Happiest Place on Earth” – Walt Disney World.
1st Place – Fourth-6th grade poetry
Bradford Davidson, 5th grade
Three Falls Elementary School, Mrs. Zwahlen
The Great and Grand Grand Canyon
To a great canyon I went,
a canyon that nature had sent.
Underneath Utah it lies,
below the blue, blue skies.
As I stared off the edge
that no small hammer could sledge.
A feeling of fright then arose,
after which I then froze.
As the river flowed,
its stream never slowed,
twirling, whirling, not an end,
disappearing down the bend.
The sides are a mile down.
The bottom is a river brown.
There is no more majestic place,
with a river of such grace.
Erosion shaped it well,
making something you can not sell.
Weathering took it away,
to another place underway.
What could this canyon be called,
to make me feel so enthralled?
Nobleness and pride are all in sight
as I look at a canyon without a blight.
If only I could go down in
this great and noble Grand Canyon.
It is so great so grand,
in this barren Arizona land.
It is now that I take my leave,
having seen a sight I can’t perceive.
1st Place – fourth-sixth grade personal essay
Zac Werrett, 6th grade
Hurricane Intermediate School, Mrs. Esplin
Life as a Water Drop
I am a little water drop chilling in a river. All of a sudden, I am in the pond! My friend told me that this process is called “runoff.” I asked “Have you been through this before?” He told me that he has. I wondered how deep I could swim down. However, as I started my journey, a big lion lapped me up. I was alone in his belly and scared until I heard someone say “help me.” I rushed as quickly as I could go and found another water drop. I was so happy to see a friend. We started to talk, but then we fell out of the lion. We wondered what was happening to us but we didn’t know.
I started to get very hot and suddenly I turned into a gas. I knew what this was called from Water School. We are now in the state of evaporation. We turned into water vapor, and the wind blew us into cold air and then we formed a cloud. We started to precipitate, but by that time, I was a solid. We were so cold and fell on Mount Everest I was told that in Water School if you landed at the top of Mount Everest, you will never melt. But I did not want to stay in my frozen state, so fortunately I landed on top of a climber’s boot and he took me to a lower elevation where the earth became warm enough to melt me.”
1st Place – Seventh-ninth grade poetry
Eliza Pond, 8th grade
Snow Canyon Middle School, Ms. Nesmith
You ask where I’m going, and here is your answer
I’m going places, I’m taking a chance, here!
I’ll go where I want to, I’ll accomplish great things
No one can stop me, though failure may sting
Sometimes in our lifetimes, we all need a break
But there’s so many chances in life you should take!
They could be wondrous, or they could be bad
But think of all the adventure to be had!
Now give it a go, I know I will
Go run that track, go climb up that hill
And when the top of the hill is reached
Go climb a mountain and gaze at the beach!
There’s so many possible places to go,
Go out and find them, get out there and grow
Go places, go places, travel the world,
Let the wondrous adventures of life unfurl
And if you feel like you’re going to fall down,
Fight those strong tides, don’t let yourself drown
They say what won’t kill you will strengthen you more,
And you’ll think of this statement, I hope, I implore
Because it is true, about strength, about life,
This statement is true, in peace or in strife!
Your strength is the only tool that you need
To get past all your trials, to prevail and succeed
So get out there, go, and do something great,
The world always needs it, no matter what state
There are places to go and things to be seen,
So get out there, get out there, and go become queen!
Achieve all your dreams, go do what you will,
There’s something out there for you to fulfill.
1st Place – Seventh-ninth grade Personal Essay
Brooklyn Jackson, 7th grade
Lava Ridge Intermediate, Mrs. Ehlers
The old, tired, author sat down at his old rickety desk. He picked up his pen, dipped it in the dark black ink, and started writing. “Ben was running and running through the jungle. He could feel the cool crisp morning air on his face. He could almost taste it.” The author paused, ripped the page out of his book, dipped his pen into the book, and started again.” Ben was running around the track at his school. He could feel the brisk morning air on his face. He was a good runner.” But that didn’t feel right either. So he got up and looked around. All of a sudden, this idea hit him. It felt like a spark finally lit a fire. So he got out a new sheet of paper, and began his wonderful tale. It’s not what you would have expected, really. “He watched the clock like a hawk watching its prey. He just wanted that class to end. Dang it, he thought. Still 45 minutes of class left. You could see his eyelids slowly close, and then he was gone into his dream.” The author liked how this sounded and continued writing. “All of a sudden, the boy is in a forest running with the deer. The next second he is swimming with the dolphins. Every few minutes he would be somewhere new, somewhere fun, somewhere exhilarating! But then, he heard a sound. It sounded so familiar, like he had heard it every day. It was the sound of the bell, waking him up just in time to hurry out of the classroom and out of the school.” The author put down his pen and smiled a warm smile. For he knew that you could go to wonderful places without leaving your home at all.
1st Place – 10th-12th grade poetry
Whitney Arnold, 11th grade, Crimson Cliffs High School, Mrs. Youngberg
The sun and moon combine to create an eclipse
Something so perfectly coordinated
It’s beautiful really, simple as well
Could we do this if we had faith in ourselves?
Now we aren’t the sun
We aren’t the moon
We are something special
And we are full of potential
We aren’t the same
We are like snowflakes
Each destined to a different place
Full of things we must embrace
We tread on contrasting paths
Although we walk side by side
Which place are you going?
And what’s the harm in not knowing?
Let’s be delicate on ourselves
For we are not perfect
This world is full of ominous things
Things that could painfully sting
Yet what’s the point of standing still?
When everything around continues to move
There is a rush we desire to feel
But we are so afraid of the unreal
There is a push
Where there is a pull
And we must discover where to go
Even if its slow
Where there is a sun
There has to be a moon
It’s beautiful really, simple too
Anywhere you go, you’re dreams can follow you
1st place – 10th-12th grade personal essay
Payton Feltner, 10th grade
Crimson Cliffs High School, Mrs. Robins
My sister has a rare genetic skin disorder called Xeroderma Pigmentosum. This disorder causes her skin to be 1,000 times more susceptible to skin cancer. In her everyday life, she has to wear a special hat that has UV protective plastic in front of her face, a jacket, pants, and gloves outside. Because of this, she has been met with challenge after challenge. She couldn’t go out to recess like the other kids, windows had to be tinted in the schools for it to be safe for her, and was given a 504 plan. Her differences made it easy for kids to pick on her. At times she was in tears wanting to be normal like everyone else, and then she realized she was amazing regardless of her differences. That was when we realized that she was going places.
In high school, she found things that she could be included in, in spite of her challenges. She was part of a dance team, she was president of her FCCLA chapter, and played the violin in the school orchestra. After high school, she was accepted to Dixie State University with a violin scholarship. College presented a new set of challenges. Universities can’t change for every student’s disabilities. The windows weren’t tinted, and so she had to go to class early to find a seat far away from the windows. When she walked around campus, she was stared and pointed at. She had to learn how to keep her eyes forward and ignore them. She is now a student-teacher at Heritage Elementary School, and due to graduate with her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in May. This girl is going places.
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