Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Some Talented Young People

Photo: A career high is when children I've mentored to write place in the prose/poetry state Kansas Authors Club contest and their families bring them all to Wichita to accept their awards. They are now published!
A Few of the Medal Winners with a Mentor

We hear so many negative things about our youth in the TV news and in the newspapers that one begins to lose confidence in the newer generations who will be the ones in charge in later years. But then, in an unexpected moment, my faith in the youth of our country is raised as high as a flag on the 4th of July. I had one of those moments this past weekend.

Our Kansas Authors state convention opened with a bang Friday evening. Parents and students from first grade through seniors in high school gathered from all areas of our state in a large meeting room for the Youth Contest Awards Ceremony. They had been notified that they were a winner in a writing contest but they didn't know what they'd won.

Two of our members sponsor the contest annually. Bill Karnowski is a poet and sponsors his Poetry Contest for Youth. Kris Polansky's contest is broader, incorporating poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Mentors, like Ronda Miller in the picture above, as well as teachers of all grades suggest that their students send in an entry. The entries arrive from different parts of our state and then the judges begin to sift and sort through them. 

I've been a judge in the nonfiction category twice now and truly enjoyed reading the entries. Some are humorous while others are serious and may tug at the heart a bit. Some are hard, cold facts while other entries make use of the creative nonfiction method. Some are short, while others are lengthier. Some have perfect grammar and mechanics while others flounder a bit with things like punctuation. Nevertheless, the children are writing and that is what is most important. Many of the entries are outstanding. The variety of subject matter is of interest to me and probably the other judges, as well.

The first part of the Friday night gathering was to give the children an opportunity to read their poem, story or article to the audience. Most of them were eager to read while a few others were too shy to do so. The audience, made up of family, members of Kansas Authors Club, and a few teachers or mentors, listened attentively. When the students read, they had no idea what place they'd won.

That knowledge came during the second part of the evening. When a name was called, necks craned to see what part of the room a child would pop up from the chair, then all watched them march rapidly to the front to accept a certificate for Honorable Mention and a certificate and medal for the top three places in each category. They each received a printed book of all the winning entries. Big smiles and sparkling eyes were a treat to witness. 

The evening finished with cake and punch for all. As I watched these talented children of a wide range of ages, I couldn't help but think that maybe there is hope for this old world, after all. Some of these kids had written with maturity and insight beyond their years. I have a feeling that many will continue in a creative endeavor as they get older. 

Mr. Karnowski made a statement in his comments to the children that I am certain they will not forget. He held up the book that inlcuded their stories and poems. "Your work," he said, "is in this book. You are a published writer."  I hope that many will be published multiple times in their future years.

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