Young Authors’ Recipients Honored at Salisbury University

Student receiving award.

 James M. Bennett student Jenny Chen takes the top award at the annual Young Authors’ Contest hosted by the Eastern Shore Literacy Association. Chen placed first in 11th grade short story at the local and state level. Photo/Tracy Sahler



  • Chen garners top student writing award

Salisbury, Md. – The Eastern Shore Literacy Association (ESLA) filled the Holloway Hall Auditorium at Salisbury University Wednesday evening to announce the 2020 Young Authors’ Contest winners. Receiving entries encompassing public, private, and homeschooled students 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.

Awards on a table.

 The annual Young Authors’ Contest hosted in the Holloway Hall Auditorium at Salisbury University was the an opportunity to shine the light on the talented student writers in Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties. Photo/Tracy Sahler

“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 1-12 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 children’s author Claudia Friddell. Friddell touted the talents of the young writers and encouraged them to never give up on the writing process. A former elementary teacher, Friddell shared with students about her passion for discovering and sharing exciting, real-life stories. Friddell is the author of George Washington’s SpiesGoliath, Hero of the Great Baltimore Fire, and her upcoming book, Saving Lady Liberty. Friddell was available to socialize with students and discuss the writing prompt.

Local winners included the following students:

  • Grade 1, Poetry –  (1) Serena Jaoude, Worcester Preparatory.
  • Grade 1, Short Story – (1) Luke Holder, The Salisbury School; (2) Ava Gibbs, The Salisbury School.
  • Grade 2, Poetry – (1) Madeleine Cook, Pocomoke Elementary; (2) La’nya Randall, Glen Avenue Elementary; (3) Isabella Rice, Worcester Preparatory.
  • Grade 2, Short Story – (1) Montane Kilgoe, Glen Avenue Elementary; (2) Lily Grace Kirby, Ocean City Elementary; (3) Anna McCormack, Ocean City Elementary.
  • Grade 3, Poetry – (1) Callan Bergquist, North Salisbury Elementary; (2) Jackson Reddish, North Salisbury Elementary; (3) London Noelle Morton, North Salisbury Elementary.
  • Grade 3, Short Story – (1) Ellie Wells, Buckingham Elementary; (2) Yamose Alazy, Delmar Elementary; (3) Elias Baldridge, Ocean City Elementary.
  • Grade 4, Poetry – (1) Cooper Senter, North Salisbury Elementary; (2-tie) Kinzie Bunting, Worcester Preparatory; (2-tie) Ellie Phillips, Worcester Preparatory; (3-tie) Trezdon Santos, North Salisbury Elementary; (3-tie) Avery Wiltbank, North Salisbury Elementary.
  • Grade 4, Short Story – (1) Ryan Shipp, Worcester Preparatory; (2) Reed Luppens, North Salisbury Elementary; (3) Ben Rafinski, Worcester Preparatory.
  • Grade 5, Poetry – (1) Peyton Davis, North Salisbury Elementary; (2) Lucy Gibson, Deal Island Elementary; (3) Karsyn Pete, North Salisbury Elementary.
  • Grade 5, Short Story – (1) Madison Wheeler, Pittsville Elementary; (2) Charlotte Malone, North Salisbury Elementary; (3-tie) Peter Jin, North Salisbury Elementary; (3-tie) Gavin Parks, Deal Island Elementary.
  • Grade 6, Poetry – (1) Adelaide Hope Dawkins, Berlin Intermediate; (2) Alex Catlin, Salisbury Middle; (3) Hannah Taylor, Salisbury Middle.
  • Grade 6, Short Story – (1) Charles Williams, Salisbury Middle; (2) Sydney Todorov, Worcester Preparatory; (3) Tyler Netting, Worcester Preparatory.
  • Grade 7, Poetry – (1) Johanna Hallman, Stephen Decatur Middle; (2) Josephine Palmer, Stephen Decatur Middle; (3) Diva Shrestha, Salisbury Middle.
  • Grade 7, Short Story – (1) Landon Schul, Worcester Preparatory; (2) Ava Baer, Mardela Middle and High School; (3) Sierra Merritt, Pocomoke Middle School.
  • Grade 8, Poetry – (1) Mia Lucinda Lovitt, Stephen Decatur Middle; (2) Josh Blume, Stephen Decatur Middle; (3-tie) Tanner Ellis, Stephen Decatur Middle; (3-tie) Kaiden Bonbright, The Salisbury School.
  • Grade 8, Short Story – (1) Ella Vilmar, Bennett Middle; (2) Abbi Weeks, Stephen Decatur Middle; (3) Pim Noparat, Stephen Decatur Middle.
  • Grade 9, Poetry – (1) Emily Garlock, James M. Bennett High; (2) Riley Moyer, Worcester Preparatory; (3) Emily O’Brien, The Salisbury School.
  • Grade 9, Short Story – (1) Jessica Beck, Stephen Decatur High; (2) Emily Leon, The Salisbury School; (3) Rory Pugh, Worcester Preparatory.
  • Grade 10, Poetry – (1) Maya Matava, James M. Bennett High; (2) Brooke Phillips, Worcester Preparatory; (3) Alexis Robertson, The Salisbury School.
  • Grade 10, Short Story – (1) Madeline Umsted, Mardela Middle & High; (2-tie) Jake Gillespie, Stephen Decatur High; (2-tie) Rosy Gao, James M. Bennett High; (3) Shannon Cottingham, Mardela Middle and High School.
  • Grade 11, Poetry – (1) Ki-Jhae Bull, Pocomoke High; (2) ; Hannah Perdue, Worcester Preparatory; (3) Waverly Choy, Worcester Preparatory.
  • Grade 11, Short Story – (1) Jenny Chen, James M. Bennett High; (2) Sophia Smith, James M. Bennett High; (3) Lydia Woodley, Stephen Decatur High.
  • Grade 12, Poetry – (1) Marvin Mason, Pocomoke High; (2) Devin Wallace, Worcester Preparatory; (3) Chloe Westbrook, Pocomoke High.
  • Grade 12, Short Story – (1) Mulan Bell, James M. Bennett High.

The top winners in each grade level and category were forwarded onto the state level competition hosted by the State of Maryland Literacy Association. The Lower Shore had three students garner a first or second place ranking in the state Young Authors’ Contest. State level winners included:

  • Emily Garlock, James M. Bennett High, Grade 9 Poetry – 2nd place
  • Maya Matava, James M. Bennett High, Grade 10 Poetry – 2nd place
  • Jenny Chen, James M. Bennett High, Grade 11 Short Story – 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.”







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