Recently, Trinidad State Junior College (TSJC) announced the winners of their annual Creative Writing Contest featuring entries from local students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. This year, despite difficulties with COVID-19, the contest garnered 100 entries from students.
“The TSJC Creative Writing Contest was a huge success,” said Dustin Hyman, an English instructor at TSJC and a facilitator of the contest. “It was a collective effort that relied on teachers, parents, students, sponsors, and volunteers. One thousand dollars was distributed to first, second, and third place winners. Every entry was included in the 2020 book.”
To help fund printing the books, the college received a grant of $1000 and Cedar Street Printing handled printing and assembling the books, which are now available for purchase at First National Bank in their drive-through facility. To keep the contest open to all types of entries, two first place winners were chosen for each grade category.
“Initially, the contest awarded a first place for both Poetry and Fiction,” said Hyman. “Dr. Tom Nordgren and I elected to keep the submissions completely open, starting last year. We like all genres and are somewhat wary of classifications or genre distinctions. So, we had an extra first place to give away.”
The writing competition began in 1997 with the help of Lori Holdread and Deb Bernhardt as well as the Trinidad Area Arts Council. After the arts council was dissolved, Trinidad State picked up the competition now in it’s fourth year with the college.
“A group of parents, teachers, and community members, along with professors at TSJC, felt this was too worthwhile an event to let it drop by the wayside,” said Hyman.
Submissions, all of which were printed in the book, range from poetry to short stories and feature students from various schools in our region. Primero seventh-grader Julenna Lopez, received second place overall in the sixth to eighth grade category for her murder-mystery short story, “Unseen Shadow.” As a result, she received a cash prize and a printed copy of the book with her first published story.
“It felt sort of strange to win since I don’t usually participate in contests and such often,” said Lopez, “so when I heard I’d made it as a finalist, I kind of dissociated for like five minutes before making a big deal about it. I’d like to thank Mrs. Johnson for pushing me to do the writing contest and helping me out with peer revising and such.”
Her teacher, Patricia Johnson, who teaches secondary English at Primero, expressed she was pleased with Lopez’s accomplishment.
“We have so many talented and enthusiastic students here at Primero that when one of our kiddos receives an award for their work outside of our school, we all benefit from the recognition for exceptional work,” said Johnson. “We are just super proud of the work Julenna does on a daily basis, and extra proud that others recognize her awesomeness, too.”
In choosing the winners, Hyman said the contest generally relies on TSJC students to read and select winners but this year was a little different.
“The pandemic did not allow us to incorporate Trojans into the selection process,” said Hyman. “Dr. Nordgren and I read the submissions and selected winners. Like everybody else, we like to be entertained. We were not disappointed!”
Hyman added that they look forward to receiving new submissions at the college in February of 2021. Extra copies of the 2020 Creative Writing Contest book are available at the First National Bank drive-thru for $10 each.
Creative Writing Winners
— Kindergarten to 2nd Grade Division:
Emmett Smith — 1st place
Autumn Sanchez — 1st place
Auriah Phelan — 2nd place
Marlen Estrada-Campos —
Liviana Montoya —
— 3rd to 5th Grade Division:
Jarrod Salazar — 1st place
Naomi Leyba — 1st place
Ariel Lamorie — 2nd place
Allyson Urban — 3rd place
(no honorable mention)
— 6th to 8th Grade Division:
Summer Arehart — 1st place
Chrisily Furia — 1st place
Julenna Lopez — 2nd place
Bryan Williams — 3rd place
Briella Phelan —
— 9th to 12th Grade Division:
Zachary Hammond —1st place
Mara Salbato — 1st place
Chris Luna — 2nd place
Sofia Sinda — 3rd place
Hannah Starinieri —