ESLA Announces Young Authors’ Contest Winners

  • Five local writers earn statewide honors

Salisbury, Md. – The Eastern Shore Literacy Association (ESLA) filled the Holloway Hall Auditorium at Salisbury University Tuesday evening to announce the 2019 Young Authors’ Contest winners. Receiving entries from 20 public and private schools on the Shore’s lower three counties, the contest continues to become more and more competitive as the quality of writing is improving among entries.

“We are very proud of the students who entered this year’s contest,” Dr. Brian Cook, ESLA Young Authors’ Contest Co-Chair, stated in a release. He indicated the contest was comprised of students in grades 2-12 and two categories, poetry and short story, available in each of those grade levels. Those invited for the awards ceremony received a finalist postcard notifying them they were a top three place winner. “Anytime you can highlight a child who is working and challenging themselves to improve their writing is a huge win. Many of our students here tonight were first time winners and were beaming as they came up to receive their award; it was truly exciting.”

Prior to announcing awards winner students were inspired by the words of award winning author Jennifer Keats Curtis. Curtis focuses her work on children’s literature and articulated the power of perseverance and to never stop writing to the children. Keats was available to socialize with students and discuss the writing prompt.

Local winners included the following students:

  • Grade 2 Poetry: (1) Bre’ara Thompson, Glen Avenue Elementary; (2) Kayleigh Webster, Glen Avenue Elementary; and (3) Trevor Langton, Glen Avenue Elementary.
  • Grade 2 Short Story: (1) Brynlee Waters, Ocean City Elementary; (2) Elias Baldridge, Ocean City Elementary; and (3) Kenley Hallett, Ocean City Elementary.
  • Grade 3 Poetry: (1) Ellie Phillips, Worcester Prep; (2) Josiah Sessoms, Pocomoke Elementary; and (3) Cecilia Diehlmann, Ocean City Elementary.
  • Grade 3 Short Story: (1) Harper Hertrich, Worcester Prep; (2) Ryan Shipp, Worcester Prep; and (3) Macaulley Jimmerson, North Salisbury Elementary.
  • Grade 4 Poetry: (1) Peyton Davis, North Salisbury Elementary; (2) Henry Holt, Worcester Prep; and (3) Gabriella Chloe Damouni, Worcester Prep.
  • Grade 4 Short Story: (1) Carley Malone, North Salisbury School; (2) Peter Jin, North Salisbury School; and (3) Miles Cox, Northwestern Elementary School.
  • Grade 5 Poetry: (1) Brody Webster, Deal Island Elementary; (2) Aidan Gray, Deal Island Elementary; and (3) Kamryn Noble, Deal Island Elementary.
  • Grade 5 Short Story: (1) Emily Whitelock, Deal Island Elementary; (2) Caitlin Shimko, Worcester Prep; and (3) Jaren Hudson, Snow Hill Middle.
  • Grade 6 Poetry: (1) Diva Shrestha, Salisbury Middle; (2) Megan Mitchell, Bennett Middle; and (3) Sydney Tingle, Worcester Prep.
  • Grade 6 Short Story: (1) Ava Baer, Mardela Middle & High; (2) Megan Mitchell, Bennett Middle; and (3) Trezure Trader, Salisbury Middle.
  • Grade 7 Poetry: (1) Pim Noparat, Stephen Decatur Middle; (2) Mariah Robertson, The Salisbury School; and (3) Samantha Lambertson, Poomoke Middle.
  • Grade 7 Short Story: (1) Aiden Clayton, Pocomoke Middle; (2) Simran Jain, Stephen Decatur Middle; and (3) Zarriah S. Tobias, Stephen Decatur Middle.
  • Grade 8 Poetry: (1) Ivorie Helmbright, Stephen Decatur Middle; (2) Leigha Early, The Salisbury School; and (3) Jack Greenwood, Stephen Decatur Middle.
  • Grade 8 Short Story: (1) Isabella Scheeler, Pocomoke Middle; (2) Emily Leon, The Salisbury School; and (3) Breanne Ferguson, Stephen Decatur Middle.
  • Grade 9 Poetry: (1) Alexis Robertson, The Salisbury School; (2) Morgan Johnson; The Salisbury School; and (3) K. Cliff Collins, Pocomoke High.
  • Grade 9 Short Story: (1) Rosy Gao, James M. Bennett High; (2) Madeline Umsted, Mardela Middle & High; and (3) Jenna Smith, James M. Bennett High.
  • Grade 10 Poetry: (1) Hannah Perdue, Worcester Prep; (2) Briden Edney, James M. Bennett High; and (3) Jonas Rush, Homeschooled.
  • Grade 10 Short Story: (1) Sophia Smith, James M. Bennett High; (2) Simon Lewis, James M. Bennett High; and (3) Lanie Gladding, Pocomoke High.
  • Grade 11 Poetry: (1) Hanna Lehner, Stephen Decatur High; (2) Sophia Peters, James M. Bennett High; and (3) Madison Synowiec, James M. Bennett High.
  • Grade 11 Short Story: (1) Ted Hirsch, James M. Bennett High; (2) Daniel Cruz, James N. Bennett High; and (3) No place winner awarded.
  • Grade 12 Poetry: (1) Quinn Onley, Pocomoke High; (2) Gracie Boyce, Pocomoke High; and (3) Victoria Payne, Pocomoke High.
  • Grade 12 Short Story: (1) Jake Rider, Stephen Decatur High; (2) Zoe Michelle Bradshaw, Mardela Middle & High; and (3) No place winner awarded.

The top winners in each grade level and category were forwarded onto the state level competition hosted by the State of Maryland Literacy Association. For the first time, ESLA was able to announce the state level winners at the local event. The Lower Shore had five students garner a first or second place ranking in the state Young Authors’ Contest. State level winners included:

  • Brynlee Waters, Ocean City Elementary, Grade 2 Short Story – 1st place
  • Carley Malone, North Salisbury Elementary School, Grade 4 Short Story – 2nd place
  • Alexis Robertson, The Salisbury School, Grade 9 Poetry – 2nd place
  • Rosy Gao, James M. Bennett High, Grade 9 Short Story – 2nd place
  • Hanna Lehner, Stephen Decatur High, Grade 11 Poetry – 1st place

“We continue to be well represented at the state level,” Lizanne Wallace, ESLA Young Authors’ Contest Co-Chair, stated in a release. “It is no longer uncommon to have Eastern Shore students place at the state. Our writers continue to get better and better every year. We are proud of their accomplishments as well their teacher’s dedication to improve writing instruction. The Young Authors’ Contest is reaping the benefits of strong teachers.”


External Link to images from the Young Authors’ Contest Awards Ceremony.


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