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Best of Round: Best of the Best

Power of the Pen, Part 2
By Bob Robinson

Students celebrate following the Power of the Pen event… some took home hardware, some didn’t, but all were winners! CNO Photos by Bob Robinson

“You really learned your lesson this time… you’ll never do WHAT again?”

What would you write if you were told to create an essay from the above? That assignment was given to 102 seventh graders at Botkins School Saturday. A Minster student’s answer to the Power of the Pen prompt got him Best of Round honors, and gave judges a look into the dark side of human nature.

Seventh Grader Nick Chalk, Minster Middle School, turned in a chilling essay on human nature called “The Locket.” A couple was having financial struggles but had a deeper, as yet unrevealed issue… the loss of a child. The husband had waited until his wife was asleep and took a gold locket that she said could never be sold no matter what. And he sold it, only to discover the locket contained a photo of the daughter they had lost. Too late to turn back, he knew this would be a “never again” act, as it might have destroyed their relationship.

He had taken their daughter from his wife… a second time.

This was a deeper look into human nature than would typically be expected of a youngster barely out of middle school. It was chilling in its unexpected ending and insight, and earned the young man a “Best of Round” honor.

The 2012 Power of the Pen contests began Saturday. Eighteen schools and 191 students competed by submitting six essays (three each for grades 7 and 8) based upon “prompts” provided for them. Winners in this District contest move to a Regional contest in March.

Judges graded all entries for each prompt and submitted them to the volunteers scoring them. The one they considered the best from their group for “Best of Round” went to another group of Judges. Those judges, in turn, read all submitted entries and by discussion, determined the Best for each prompt.

The two other seventh grade prompts were “Hooked; use that word as the central theme of your story.” It was won by Cameron Roller, Piqua Catholic, for his essay entitled “Deadly Swim.” “Describe the phenomenon of snow from a dog’s perspective,” was won by Jacob Troutwine, DeColores Montessori, Greenville, for his essay “Overreacting to Overcast Weather.”

The best of the best!

The eighth grade Round One prompt was “You just got a second chance… to do what?” A beautifully crafted narrative entitled “Ready or Not” by Maria Barhorst, Fort Loramie High School, could easily have brought tears to the eyes of the most hardened cynic. In it a young woman was considering re-marrying after suffering the loss of her first husband years earlier. By chance she discovered a video from her first husband releasing her from loyalty to his memory and giving her a “second chance” to find happiness in life. Writing style and flow of story kept the reader riveted until the final, emotional moment.

The essay chosen best from the Round Two prompt, “Off… create a prepositional phrase that begins with this word,” was written by Alisha Bhagwat, Tippecanoe Middle School, Tipp City, and entitled “Off the Edge.” Accomplished professional writers could learn much from this tightly crafted story line of a cop seeking a serial killer only to realize that he himself was the killer he sought. His solution to stop the killings by taking his own life was not really unexpected, but still hit hard as the essay drew to a simple, bone-chilling conclusion.

An equally powerful response to the Round Three prompt, “Genes… which ones are you glad you inherited?” was written, once again, by Alisha Bhagwat, Tippecanoe, entitled “Whites Only.”

The best of the best!

One hundred ninety one students spent an entire day at Botkins School Saturday, writing three essays within a time frame of 40 minutes each, then spent several hours awaiting the decisions of dozens of judges on the merits of their work.

The talents and accomplishments of many of those students could be the subject of envy by many professionals having already achieved success in the field.

Best of Round judges, Patti Speelman, Sidney Daily News, Dr. Ken Rosengarten, retired professor, Wright State Lake Campus, and Bob Robinson, County News Online, read the top chosen 16 to 18 submissions for each of the six rounds and, as was noted, during the awards ceremony…

“All who came here today are here because they are good writers learning and working to improve their craft. All submissions read by the Best of Round judges were winners… they all were well written and deserving of recognition. Unfortunately, only six could be awarded Best of Round.”


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