When Chatham County’s media coordinators put out a call for original stories, more than 500 elementary and middle school students delivered. Autobiographies, works of fiction, pop-ups books, poetry – they arrived in many forms. From this pool of literature, 50 were selected – representing the top picks from each public school.
The authors of these 50 books were celebrated via the Chatham Young Authors program at an up-scale event at the Fearrington Barn on Tuesday, April 12. A panel of judges, headed by Sarah Carr of McIntyre Books, awarded four students with the highest honors.
“It is so important to nurture young writers and give them a platform for sharing their creativity,” said Sarah. “Every year it is a joy to read the tremendously imaginative stories as well as some tender and brave autobiographical tales by the students.”
Mary Lee Moore founded the program 28 years ago to encourage students to write and to recognize outstanding talent. The highest prize is named in her honor. It is among the longest-running programs recognizing creative writing at the elementary and middle school level in the state. Keith Medlin, Executive Director of Media and Technology, became the coordinator when Mary Lee retired.
This year’s special award-winners include:
Distinguished Author Grades K-2: Jaliyah Ray, North Chatham Elementary, “The Fair Fairy.”
Distinguished Author Grades 3-5: Nellielou Errett, Horton Middle School, “Meeting Tabitha.”
Distinguished Author grades 6-8: Gretchen Davis, Chatham Middle School, “Cara’s Journey.”
Mary Lee Moore Distinguished Young Author (All Grades K – 8): Christopher Esther, Margaret B. Pollard Middle School, “The Worst Enemy.”
Meet some of this year’s finalists and read their stories:
Distinguished Author K-2 Award recipient
First Grade, North Chatham Elementary
Story: “Fair Fairy”
“Jaliyah’s story is so well organized and really showcases the fairy tale genre. It is funny and delightful and a book you want to read aloud.” – Competition judge Sarah Carr
How did you get the idea for your story? I like fairies so I just started writing a fairy book.
How did you feel when your story was selected? I was so surprised!
What are your favorite books? Fly Guy books and super hero books.
What do you like to do when you aren’t in school? I like to color and ride my bike and play with my friends. In the summer I like to go to the pool.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? I would go to Mexico and go swimming.
If you could be anything you wanted when you grow up, what would you be? The President so I could give money to the poor.
Who are some teachers who have meant a lot to you?
Ms. Rafetto, Ms. Salazar, Mrs. Ramos, Mrs. Thorndyke and Mrs. Atkinson.
Finalist, grades 3-5 category
Fifth grade (dual language program), Siler City Elementary
Story: “I Rise”
How did you feel when your story was selected? I was surprised because I thought my story was a little confusing. But I was also very happy that my book wasn’t judged because it was about a Muslim.
What are your favorite books? The Harry Potter series (I read them all three times); the Percy Jackson series; the Maze Runner series; the Mr. Terupt series; and so far (I haven’t finished it) the Mighty Miss Malone.
What do you like to do when you aren’t in school? I like to play soccer and basketball, go over to my friend’s house, read, play video games, watch TV, make short movie clips and sing.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? I would just stay home because I just love home and what I see on the news about other countries makes me not want to go anywhere. But when I get older I will want to travel to other places.
If you could be anything you wanted when you grow up, what would you be? I would be an architect because I love to draw and design things. I would also like to create movies or write books because again, I like to create things. But I am still not positive of what I want to be when I grow up.
Who are some teachers who have meant a lot to you? My top most favorite teachers are Sr. Urena and Senorita Villalobos. Sr. Urena, my teacher now, is one funny guy. He is hilarious. He makes science fun and understandable. Senorita Villalobos, my 4th grade teacher, felt like a second Mom to me. She was nice and caring and had a good sense of humor. They both make me feel really good about myself.
Mary Lee Moore Distinguished Young Author Award recipient (All Grades K – 8)
Eighth grade, Margaret B. Pollard Middle School
Story: “The Worst Enemy” (part three of a trilogy)
“Chris’ submission is an excellent fantasy story that excels in dialogue, plot and character growth. He is a past winner at the elementary level and is a true talent.” – Competition judge Sarah Carr
How did you get the idea for your story? I had written two previous books in the series on Allister and Andrew. I wanted to write a book that would give these characters a big ending and complete the trilogy.
How did you feel when your story was selected? I was very honored.
What are your favorite books? The Gone series by Michael Grant and mystery books in general.
What do you like to do when you aren’t in school? I like to make movies and video clips. I also like to play the piano, drums, and guitar.
If you could go anywhere where would it be and why? I have wanted to go to France ever since I did a project about it at school. I am intrigued by its unique culture and language.
If you could do anything as an adult what would it be? I haven’t decided exactly what I would like to do, but I would really like to be in a job that helps others and makes a difference in the world.
Who are some teachers who have meant a lot to you? My first grade teacher Mrs. Brennan really encouraged my writing. I wrote my first Young Authors book when I was in her class. My middle school math teacher Mr. Tillett is also an excellent teacher and very positive. I am also very thankful to Ms. Mary Lee Moore for starting the Young Authors program many years ago. Even though she wasn’t my teacher, the program has encouraged me to keep writing.