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South Carolina Honors College

Charleston students sweep state high school writing contest

Columbia, SC—Three students from the Charleston County School of the Arts have won first, second, and third-place awards in the fifth annual South Carolina High School Writing Contest. Grand Judge Sam Amadon, a poet and University of South Carolina professor of English, named Jurnee Washington first place, English Calhoun Walpole second place, and Roey Leonardi third place in the contest. Washington is a pre-med freshman at Stony Brook University of New York, and Walpole and Leonardi are seniors at the Charleston County School of the Arts. “This is the first time our winners have come from the same school,” said Aïda Rogers, who coordinates the contest for the South Carolina Honors College, which presents the contest at the University of South Carolina. “We salute those students and their teachers, Dr. John Cusatis, Danielle DeTiberus, F. Rutledge Hammes, and Beth Webb Hart. Obviously there is first-class learning at that school.” Each finalist submitted two pieces of writing. In the first one, students used a variety of genres to answer the question “How should we improve the state of South Carolina?” For the second stage of the contest, students traveled to the USC campus in Columbia and wrote an impromptu piece about how a friend or friendship changed the course of their lives, a topic chosen by Amadon. Washington will receive the Walter Edgar Award, which includes $1,000. The prize, funded by Thad Westbrook, an alumnus of the South Carolina Honors College and a USC trustee, honors the longtime USC history professor and author. Walpole will receive the Dorothy Skelton Williams Award, which includes $500. Funded by an anonymous donor, the prize memorializes the late Anderson County educator who believed every child could learn.

Leonardi will receive the Hortense Elizabeth Skelton Award, which includes $250. Ms. Skelton, also from Anderson, was Ms. Williams’ sister and a relentless encourager and defender of every child. This award also is anonymously funded. Three honorable mentions were awarded, all to three then-seniors at Heathwood Hall in Columbia: Christina Altman, Athreya Murali, and Alyce Petit. About 200 students from across the state entered the contest, with 40 chosen as finalists. Other finalists from the Charleston County School of the Arts were Elliot Blake Hueske, Chloe Koth, and Adam Krasnoff. Maria Traver of Johns Island, a senior at Academic Magnet High School, also was a finalist. Porter-Gaud graduate Jasmine Smith, now a freshman at the College of Charleston, was a finalist during 2016-17 and 2017-18. Will Hutchisson, a graduate of Charleston Collegiate School, is a student at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. The writings of the finalists will be collected in Writing South Carolina: Selections from the Fifth Annual High School Writing Contest. The anthology is being prepared by students in the Editing and Publishing course at the South Carolina Honors College, which will publish the book. Submissions for the sixth contest are now being accepted. High school juniors and seniors in public, private, and home schools may enter. Grand Judge is Walter Edgar. For more information, see

Finalists for the 2017-18 South Carolina High School Writing Contest:


Bridget Anderson, Wilson Hall Delaney Coldren, Goose Creek High School Krista Drozdowski, North Myrtle Beach High School

Chloe Godinez, Byrnes High School, Duncan Matthew Goins, Gaffney High School Catherine Gordon, Byrnes High School Sarah Hobbs, Greenwood High School Alana Hewett, Byrnes High School Kathleen Raye Humphries, Humphries Home School Academy, Columbia Mary Devall Koenigs, Dreher High School Peyton Pearrow, Swansea High School Reet Verma, Lexington High School


Genevieve Altman, Heathwood Hall, Columbia Camryn Barnhart, Berkeley County Middle College High School Marie Charlotte Demetriades, Heathwood Hall Joanna English, Byrnes High School Lacey Flowers, Aiken High School Alana Hewett, Byrnes High School Gabriella Hewitt, Ridge View High School, Columbia Justice Hill, Heathwood Hall Michael “Blake” Hoehn, North Augusta High School Braden Holst, Spring Hill High School, Chapin Morgan-McKay Hoppmann, Home School, Sumter Ioakim Koutsioukis, Greenville Tech Charter High School Lucidity “Lua” Lancaster, North Myrtle Beach High School Madelaine Lee, West Oak High School, Westminster Melina Manos, Heathwood Hall Victoria Ponds, Ponds Home School, Lodge

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