Jefferson County students are well on their way to becoming the next generation of famed authors.
On May 10, the Education Nonprofit Corporation (ENC) had its awards ceremony for the fourth annual Jeffco Writing Challenge and the first I Love to Read Contest.
These contests are vital, said Willow George Seeley, a second grade Gifted and Talented teacher at Kyffin Elementary School in Golden.
“Writing allows each of us to communicate with the world, giving us a way to let our hearts be heard,” she said. “The Jeffco Writing Challenge embodies these principles, fostering the love of writing.”
The contests are a collaborative effort of Jefferson County educators and ENC, which is a Golden-based nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of education. The organization was founded in 2008, and since 2009, the nonprofit has donated more than $224,000 to local schools.
About 1,100 Jeffco students — kindergarten through 12th grade — participated in this year’s writing challenge. Each had to submit a short fiction piece or a poem describing how books can change the world. Combined, the contests produced about 80 winners who were recognized for their exceptional efforts. First-place winners received $100, and second and third places and honorable mentions were awarded gift certificates.
Schools were also recognized for both the writing challenge and the I Love to Read Contest.
For the writing challenge, in first place for schools with the highest percentage of participation based on enrollment was Bell Middle in Golden, followed by Red Rocks Elementary in Morrison and Woodrow Wilson Academy in Westminster. Fairmount Elementary in Golden came in first for the schools with the highest percentage of winners versus entries.There was a three-way tie for second place in this category between Elk Creek Elementary in Pine, Free Horizon Montessori in Golden and Vanderhoof Elementary in Arvada. Lakewood High School came in third.
“I can’t imagine my life without writing,” said local author Laura Padgett, the event’s keynote speaker.
She told the aspiring writers that she wanted them to take three words of advice with them. The first, she said, is that reading and writing are synonymous with learning. The second, Padgett said, is that every story a writer writes matters. And third, writers are artists, she said, and with that, “you get to define yourself.”
“Your stories matter because they teach the world about you. And you matter,” Padgett said. She pointed out how important readers also are, adding that the world belongs together. “And we know that because of the stories we share.”