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South Carolina Honors College

Young writers tackle tough subjects in new South Carolina anthology

Posted Oct. 6, 2020

Racism, domestic violence, poverty, inequities in education – these are just a few topics teenage South Carolina writers cover in Writing South Carolina: Selections of the 5th Annual High School Writing Contest. Recently released by the South Carolina Honors College, the collection features the writings of 40 students who were the winners and finalists in the contest during the 2017-18 school year. The question students must answer is “How can we make South Carolina better?” 

“We think these students are on the front lines of what happens in our state, and we are pleased to publish their insightful work,” said Steven Lynn, founder of the contest and dean of the SCHC, a college within the University of South Carolina. “What they experience at home, school, and in their communities has been translated into gripping material for us to read. These writers are South Carolina’s future leaders, and I hope people will listen to what they have to say.” 

Here’s what Justice Hill, then a senior in Columbia, had to say: 

"Walking on the street downtown to my job at the 5th Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office, I have witnessed white Americans go to the other side of the street so they wouldn’t have to walk by me. Even when I am dressed in a suit and tie and going to my job to help the citizens in this state, I am still viewed as an intimidating black man."

Another Columbia senior, Christina Altman, wrote a poem, “Rite of Passage.” It includes these lines: 

For the past two years, I’ve sat in math class and listened to the boys behind me. 
“You hit her?” 
“No, I just pushed her a little.” 

Unlike volumes 1-4, which were published in partnership with University of South Carolina Press, volume 5 is published solely by the SCHC. The first round of editing was done by students in a specially designed editing and publishing course taught by Aïda Rogers, contest coordinator. The cover features tall goldenrod, South Carolina’s state wildflower, which represents the young authors whose voices are lesser known and perhaps sometimes a little bit wild. K. Lee Graham, a student in Rogers’ course, conceived the design. History student Sophie Kahler wrote the introduction, “Moving Forward.” 

“It’s always exciting when a book is born, and even more so when the authors are so young and talented,” Rogers said. “How these different writers took a question and ‘played’ with it – whether in a creative or straightforward manner – was remarkable.” 

Several distinguished South Carolina writers have judged the contest, including Pat Conroy, Marjory Wentworth, Mary Alice Monroe, Nikky Finney and Pam Durban. Grand Judge for this contest was Sam Amadon, a nationally acclaimed poet on the university faculty. 

The first, second and third-place winners, remarkably, are graduates of the Charleston County School of the Arts. Jurnee Washington (first), English Calhoun Walpole (second), and Roey Leonardi (third), were students of writing teachers Danielle DeTiberus, F. Rutledge Hammes, and Elizabeth Webb Hart. They receive cash prizes. SCHC alumni Thad Westbrook sponsors the first-place award, named for history professor Walter Edgar. An anonymous donor sponsors the second and third-place awards, which are named for the late upstate educator Dorothy Skelton Williams and her sister, Hortense Elizabeth Skelton. Presenting partners include the University of South Carolina Libraries.  

Writing South Carolina, volume 5, is available at

Contributors to the anthology: 

Christina Altman, Heathwood Hall, Columbia 
Genevieve Altman, Heathwood Hall 
Camryn Barnhart, Hanahan, Berkeley County Middle College High School
Marie Charlotte Demetriades, Irmo, Heathwood Hall 
Taylor Rose Elliott, Greenwood, Emerald High School 
Joanna English, Duncan, Byrnes High School 
Lacey Flowers, Aiken High School  
Gabriella Hewitt, Elgin, Ridge View High, Columbia 
Justice Hill, Columbia, Heathwood Hall 
Michael Hoehn, North Augusta High School 
Braden Holst,Spring Hill High School, Chapin 
Morgan-McKay Hoppman, Sumter, Home School  
Will Hutchisson, Charleston Collegiate School 
Ioakim Koutsioukis, Greenville Technical Charter High School 
Lucidity Lua Lancaster, Longs, North Myrtle Beach High School 
Madelaine Lee, West Oak High School, Westminster 
Melina Manos, West Columbia, Heathwood Hall 
Athreya Murali, Orangeburg,Heathwood Hall  
Alyce Petit, Columbia, Heathwood Hall 
Victoria Ponds, Lodge, Home School 
Jasmine Smith, Johns Island, Porter-Gaud School 
Jurnee Washington, Charleston, Charleston County School of the Arts

Bridget Anderson, Wedgefield, Wilson Hall, Sumter 
Delaney Coldren, Moncks Corner, Goose Creek High School 
Krista Drozdowski, Longs, North Myrtle Beach High 
Chloe Godinez, Duncan, Byrnes High School 
Matthew Goins, Gaffney High School 
Catherine Gordon, Lyman, Byrnes High School 
Alana Hewett, Lyman, Byrnes High School 
Sarah Hobbs, Greenwood High School 
Elliot Hueske,Charleston County School of the Arts  
Kathleen Raye Humphries, Columbia, Humphries Homeschool Academy 
Mary Devall Koenigs, Dreher High School, Columbia 
Chloe Koth, Isle of Palms, Charleston County School of the Arts 
Adam Krasnoff, Charleston County School for the Arts 
Roey Leonardi, Charleston County School for the Arts 
Peyton Pearrow, Swansea High School 
Maria Traver, Johns Island, Charleston County School of the Arts 
Reet Verma, Lexington High School 
English Calhoun Walpole, Johns Island, Charleston County School of the Arts 

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