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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.”







YAC State Level Winners Announced

  • Lower Shore students claims five state level awards

Hunt Valley, MD – The State of Maryland International Reading Council (SoMIRAC) is proud to announce its state level winners for the Young Authors’ Contest. The two-tier contest asked students in grades 2-12 submit original short stories or poems to the Eastern Shore Reading Council (ESRC), which is comprised of Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester Counties. Upon judging writing artifacts from the local level, overall winners in each category were submitted into the statewide contest.

At SoMIRAC’s recent state convention, five students from the ESRC delegation were designated as state level winners. Those student winners included:

“This many state level winners from our Eastern Shore Reading Council delegation is a true testament of the emphasis toward writing instruction in the classrooms all across the lower shore,” Brian Cook, co-chair of the local Young Authors’ Contest, articulated following the state level presentation. “At the local level, our contest saw the biggest increase in entries than in recent years, and it was very difficult to even name some of local winners. It comes as no surprise as the quality of entries improve so will our showing at the state level. I am very proud of the work our students are doing as well as our teachers with their writing instruction.”


— Literacy Matters–

JMB’s Cockey awarded Barbara S. Davis Scholarship

Salisbury, Md. — The Eastern Shore Reading Council traveled to Jame M. Bennett High School

Monday evening to award the Barbara S. Davis Scholarship. The annual award is for $1,000 to a graduating senior within Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties who plans to enroll in the education field in the fall.

This year’s award was given to Elizabeth Cockey, who will be attending University of Maryland Eastern Shore and majoring in special education.

“I want to be a teacher because I want to inspire special needs children to be whatever they want to be,” Cockey stated in her scholarship essay regarding her excitement about working with children of special needs. “I want to make (students) feel like they are more than what others may think.  Special needs children are viewed as children who need help all of the time and people often make fun of them.  I want to help them show others that they are equal with everyone else.”

About the Barbra S. Davis Scholarship

Each year the Eastern Shore Reading Council honors past president and membership chair Barbara S. Davis with an annual scholarship. Davis, a retired teacher in Wicomico County Public Schools, is remembered for her passion towards sparking the love of reading to all of her students and those in the local communities in which she served. Davis’ scholarship is awarded annually to a senior who intend on majoring in education in the amount of $1,000.