COLUMBIA, SC—Twenty-seven high school juniors and seniors from across the state have been named finalists in the sixth annual South Carolina High School Writing Contest.
“In the first year of this contest,” said Steven Lynn, dean of South Carolina Honors College and contest founder, “Pat Conroy, our Grand Judge, made the startling observation that he thought all the student finalists were better writers than he was at their age.”
Since that first year, high school students who are finalists in the contest have been inspired, nurtured, and published, and a few extraordinarily talented students have won $1,000, $500, or $250—the first, second, and third prizes.
The Grand Judge for this year's contest will be Walter Edgar, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of South Carolina, and author of many landmark books, including South Carolina: A History. Edgar is of course also the host of "Walter Edgar’s Journal," the highly popular radio program on South Carolina Public Radio.
As in previous years, the topic for the contest is “How can we make South Carolina better?” Students can respond in any genre—poetry, fiction, essay, drama, letter, diary. The contest is open to South Carolina juniors and seniors in public, private, and home schools, and the finalists will be included in an anthology, Writing South Carolina: Selections of the Sixth Annual High School Writing Contest, published by the South Carolina Honors College.
Walter Edgar will speak to the finalists February 15 at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, where Round 2 of the competition is presented. Round 2 includes a second, timed, writing test in which finalists respond to an impromptu topic.
The Honors College partners with the Pat Conroy Literary Center, the South Carolina State Library, and the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Sciences to present the contest.
The first-place winner prize of $1,000, which is the Walter Edgar Award in fact, is funded by SCHC alumnus Thad Westbrook, who named the prize for Edgar, his professor. The second-place winner will receive $500 and the Dorothy Williams Award, funded by an anonymous donor and named for the late upstate public school educator. The third place winner will receive $250, the Hortense Skelton award, also funded by an anonymous donor.
“Young people have insightful, interesting, often brilliant things to say,” says Aïda Rogers, co-editor of the volume and director of the contest. Rogers, who has edited the State of the Heart series, (subtitled "South Carolina Writers and the Places They Love"), continues, “These students are our future leaders, and it’s important to understand their viewpoints. They may have solutions—or the seeds to solutions—to the problems we are facing now and in the future.”
Finalists for the 2018-19 South Carolina High School Writing Contest are:
River Abedon, Charleston County School of the Arts
Caelan Bailey, Academic Magnet High School, North Charleston
Alanie Blanton, Gaffney High School Lauren Chen, Dutch Fork High School
Maya Cline, Charleston County School of the Arts
Caroline Conway, Charleston County School of the Arts
Katie Dorn, Charleston County School of the Arts
Maya Green, Charleston County School of the Arts
Loulou Hranowsky, Charleston County School of the Arts
Devin Leigh, Academy for the Arts, Science, and Technology, Myrtle Beach
Christina Lewis, Charleston County School of the Arts
Emma Miller, Spring Hill High School, Chapin
Rebecca Ogbuefi, North Augusta High School
Cassidy Price, Gaffney High School
Samuel Rosenberg, Academic Magnet High School, North Charleston
Caitlin Shelor, Charleston County School of the Arts
Autumn Simpson, White Knoll High School
Lauren Teal, North Myrtle Beach High School
Mason Waltman, Gaffney High School
Layla Wheelon, Charleston County School of the Arts
Rowan Brown, South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville
MacKenzie Gascon, Ridge View High School, Columbia
Anne Heiler, Blythewood High School
Kathleen Raye Humphries, Humphries Homeschool Academy, Columbia
Gage Moccia, James F. Byrnes High School, Duncan
Makeenie Robinson, Ridge View High School, Columbia
Sierra Sconzo, Ridge View High School, Columbia
Brittney Watts, James F. Byrnes High School, Duncan