Colby’s Write Stuff Contest inspires local students

This week, the Farnham Writers’ Center is hosting the annual “Write Stuff” competition for aspiring middle school writers.  Sixth, seventh and eighth graders from Winslow Junior high have already entered hundreds of pieces for judging, ranging from humorous to heartfelt in nature. Managing the contest is Head Tutor in Charge of Communications and Outreach Brooke Fairbanks ’15, who coordinated with Winslow teacher April Wood to organize a reception at which students were encouraged to submit their work. Fairbanks chose Writing Center tutor Savannah Judge ’15 to attend the half-hour reception, where she answered student questions about creative writing.

In the next few days, the judging process will take place in the Center, after which “three uniquely well-written pieces are chosen from each category,” Fairbanks said. Each grade has two categories, Poetry and Prose. Writing center tutors are not obligated to participate, but a good number of them choose to volunteer their time. “The tutors enjoy the humorous and sweet pieces that usually bring up many childhood memories for them, and they get to share their favorite pieces with one another,” Fairbanks explained.

Writing Center tutor Gracie Baldwin ’16 echoed this sentiment, noting that the contest provides a nice change of pace from the standard academic writing tutors often encounter. “We get a lot of the same kind of style of essay,” she said. Thanks to the contest, though, this week the tutors get to read about everything from dimwitted cats to haunted houses, and even one piece titled “An Ode to Pizza.” According to judges, common themes include pets, family members, and favorite foods and places.

However, Write Stuff does more than provide a fun experience for the tutors and local students: the contest plays an important role in inspiring young writers. “I think that this competition probably makes the students excited and shows them the power of writing,” Baldwin said. The contest is an engaging way for students to try something new, and they also receive positive feedback which “encourages them to continue writing and reading, and helps their teachers with motivation,” Fairbanks added. 

The competition also helps strengthen ties between the Writers’ Center and the greater local community, and according to Baldwin is just one of many community outreach programs run by Farnham. Both tutors and students benefit from these stronger relationships.  When asked to offer advice for the young writers, Baldwin said, “Find something that inspires you, and practice a lot!”

While the competition is still ongoing, many have already benefitted from the positive experience, and the high submission numbers indicate a successful effort in engaging students.

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