FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Seven district students named as finalists
in statewide high school writing contest
BEAUFORT – Seven Beaufort County School District students are among 72 finalists in the fourth annual South Carolina High School Writing Contest.
Four juniors were named as finalists: Sophie Bellomy, Natoria Smalls and Sarah Suber (Beaufort High) and Amanda Taylor (Battery Creek High). Three Beaufort High seniors were also named as finalists: Morgan Mayne-Alexander, Alexandra Batista and Jessica Elkins.
“It’s really exciting to have one of every 10 South Carolina finalists be from Beaufort County,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. “Expressing yourself well in written communications is important in virtually any career you can think of.”
The writing topic judged to determine the finalists was “How can we make South Carolina better?” Students responded in the genre of their choice – poetry, fiction, essay, drama or letter – using 750 words or less.
Round 2 of the competition – set for March 17 on the University of South Carolina campus in Columbia – will include a second writing test in which finalists will respond to an impromptu topic. The contest is open to juniors and seniors in public, private and home schools.
The first-place winner in the senior class will receive $1,000 and the Walter Edgar Award, funded by University of South Carolina Honors College alumnus Thad Westbrook and named for his professor, the South Carolina historian and writer. The first-place winner in the junior class will receive $1,000 and the Dorothy Skelton Williams Award, funded by an anonymous donor and named for the late upstate public school educator. Second- and third-place winners in the junior and senior classes will receive $500 and $250, respectively.
“We are committed to nurturing writing talent in South Carolina,” said Linda Haines Fogle, acting director of the University of South Carolina Press. “We are thrilled with how this contest has been received and flourished in such a short period of time.”
The USC Press is partnering with USC’s Honors College to present the competition. Other presenting partners are Beaufort’s Pat Conroy Literary Center, the South Carolina State Library, the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Sciences and Young Palmetto Books, an imprint of USC Press.
Two nationally recognized writers from South Carolina are judging this year’s contest: Pam Durban, an Aiken native whose novels and short stories have won critical acclaim, and Nikky Finney, a Conway native whose “Head Off & Split” won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2011. Both will contribute to “Writing South Carolina: Selections from the Fourth High School Writing Contest,” which will include the work of the finalists.
“I taught college freshmen for many years, and I’ve learned our young people have interesting things to say,” said Steven Lynn, dean of USC’s Honors College. “These students are our future leaders, and it’s important to understand their viewpoints. They could have solutions – or the seeds to solutions – to the problems we are facing now and in the future.”