Heights middle school students shine at Power of the Pen

Members of the winning seventh-grade team from Roxboro Middle School with their coach, Caitlin Gerber.

Photo by Nicole Tugeau

Monticello and Roxboro middle school students wield a mighty power—the power of the pen. Last December, teams from both schools participated in the eighth Power of the Pen writing competition, hosted by Monticello at the Wiley campus.

More than 200 middle school students from 22 area schools attended the full-day Saturday event. After a get-to-know-you scavenger hunt, students participated in three rounds of intense competition. Groups of six students gathered in classrooms where they had 40 minutes to respond to an assigned writing prompt, for example, “describe a fate worse than death in your narrative,” or “liven things up in an otherwise dull study hall.”

The stories generated in each session were judged on a series of criteria, including creativity, voice, grammar and spelling, and adherence to the assigned topic. Points were awarded to each student before they moved to the next room to compete against five different writers, using a new prompt. When the total points were tallied at day’s end, Heights’s middle school students did extremely well. 

Roxboro’s seventh-grade team took the first prize, with Helena Duffy placing sixth overall, and Natalie Bier placing ninth. Monticello’s Laurel Buescher was the first-place winner in the seventh-grade competition, and Clare Dolan placed eighth amongst the eighth-graders. 

Those students, who practice once a week after school, will move on to the regional tournament in April. Top scorers in that event will then advance to the state tournament at the College of Wooster in May.

Joellen Denk, Roxboro librarian and Power of the Pen coach, said, “This absolutely makes them better writers. Getting weekly feedback from their peers and a teacher is incredible.” 

Debbie Frost, district coordinator of Power of the Pen and intervention specialist at Monticello, added, “This is a great opportunity for CH-UH to showcase our most talented and creative writers.”

Other Power of the Pen coaches are English language arts teachers Caitlin Gerber, Jeannise Andres and Ashley Riolo. Special support was provided by administrators Toia Robinson and Jeff Johnston, as well as the Heights Middle Schools PTA.

Krissy Dietrich Gallagher

Krissy Dietrich Gallagher is a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights, and former teacher. She is a freelance journalist under contract with the CH-UH City School District. 

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 10:12 AM, 01.31.2019