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Power of the Pen
by Elizabeth Horner

            Greenville Junior High hosted this year’s “District Power of the Pen Competition”.  Thanks to the Greenville City School’s Board, Superintendent Susie Riegal and Principal David Peltz for their support and for allowing this event to take place in Greenville this year. Many thanks to: Mrs. Elaine Bailey for her tireless effort to support this program and coordinating this event; the Best of Round judges Kathleen Nealeigh, Bob Robinson and Michael Sexton; volunteers Tricia Seubert, Kelsi Meyer, Greenville Key Club, Debate Club and Quiz Bowl Team; Polly Ruedebusch, Sue Coppess, Lori Moore, Kelly Tanner, and all the writing team coaches and students that participated in the tournament. A special thanks to my mom, Ruby, who served as the parent coordinator for the Greenville Team.

            Sixteen schools and 74 seventh and 82 eighth grade students participated.  Greenville Junior High was represented by five 8th grade students: Christal Smith who took the overall third place trophy, Leslie Logan and Sammy Lobenstein who received ribbons as “Qualifiers” and will advance to the POP Regional Competition with Christal Smith. Jennie Hoehn and Trey Morton received scores with “Honors”.

            Other students from Darke County that placed are:  Caroline Praker, no.11 (Versailles); and Kelly Snyder, no. 12 (De Colores); Morgan Turpen, no. 13 (Versailles).  In the 7th grade division, Franklin Monroe Sophie Fig placed no. 16.  Other Darke County school qualifiers for the regional competitions are:  Seventh grade:  Brenden Rismiller, Madison Collins, and Hannah Green (Franklin Monroe); Chance Garber and Ashley Littlepage (Missisinawa Valley); Quincy Baltes, Samantha Ruuner, and Maddy Rickett (Versailles).  Eighth grade:  Hannah Cloyd, Rachel Remencus and Samantha Runner (De  Colores); Quincy Warren (Missisinawa Valley); Lindsey Didler and Morgan Turpen (Versailles). They all deserve big congratulations!  Let us wish them good luck as they move to the regional level of competition on March 26!

            I believe very strongly that we need to cultivate communication and writing proficiency in all of today’s youth as a vehicle to reach out across space … and time.  Most of us have read the works of Shakespeare.  The voices of great historians, philosophers, poets, and novelists like Shakespeare --- have outlived the mediums upon which they were writ. As the ambassadors of their time periods, we have their words to shape our views of the past and give us those crucial insights into their beliefs and culture.  That is an awesome power--- to be able to affect future generations’ way of thinking or looking at things.  Their work may amuse, enlighten, or frighten us--- but their words are potent.  I thank this community for allowing us, your sons and daughters to have this opportunity.

            I also believe that everybody’s born with the ability to communicate one’s views about the world through simple speech, humor, poetic rhetoric, etc. Sometimes it takes a little push to get a person to channel those skills onto paper.  I know of a lot of amazing English teachers who are good at prompting their students into finding their own voices through writing.  I have many of them to thank.  There are also various training methods out there to help one enhance his/her writing skills.  While coaching the Greenville Junior High’s Power of the Pen team, I tested a few ideas with the team.

            One of my favorite exercises was like charades. Two kids were asked to act out the same part --- to be a cat, George Washington, a snake….  Then the rest of the team voted on who performed his/her best by describing why they say so.  Now, you may ask, how does this help teach writing skills?  I wanted them to see the methods used to communicate non-verbally with the audience, and then apply that to their written work. Did they slink, strut, walk with feline grace, etc?  If good writing makes the reader form a picture in their head, then why not start with the picture and work backwards?

            I also wanted their thoughts and hearts to spill onto the paper and into the world around them.  Words are basic requisites of life, everything from giving a direction to the movie theater; recipes for tonight’s dinner; statements that feed our soul; or providing one with an outlet to express ones beliefs, experiences, and ideas. Written words can be very powerful tool indeed, as Ms. Susie Riegel said in her opening remarks during the event.  I hope we, the youth, will learn to use this power to serve our community and the greater good!


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