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Jefferson County students love to read and write.
About 50 of them were recognized on May 11 for being the winners of the Education Nonprofit Corporation’s (ENC) Jeffco Writing Challenge and I Love to Read Contest. This is the fifth year for the writing challenge and the second year for the reading contest.
“It’s important for young people to think of writing as fun, and not as just work they have to do for school,” said Jody Thomas, one of the contests’ judges. “Hopefully, contests like this will keep them writing because they like to write and want to.”
The contests are a collaborative effort of Jefferson County educators and ENC, which is a Golden-based nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of education. The organization was founded in 2008, and since 2009, the nonprofit has donated more than $237,000 to local schools.
“Kids thrive and have a happy life when they feel encouraged and are recognized for their creativity and effort,” said Linda Rediger, one of ENC’s directors.
More than 1,200 Jeffco students participated in this year’s writing challenge. This year, the students were tasked with writing a new ending for their favorite book.
Entries were judged by a panel of elementary to post-secondary educators. Each grade level — kindergarten through 11th grade — had a first-through-third place winner and an honorable mention, with the exception of 10th grade because there were no entries from students in this grade. The 12th grade division had only a first and second place winner because only two entered the contest.
First-place winners received $100, and second and third places and honorable mentions were awarded gift cards redeemable at Tattered Cover bookstores.
“I want to be an author someday,” said Seyennah Rae, a ninth grader at Sobesky Academy in Wheat Ridge, who won third place in the writing contest. “The contest is a good way for me to practice knowing my audience.”
Schools were also recognized for participating in the writing challenge.
In first place for schools with the highest percentage of participation based on enrollment was Bell Middle School in Golden, followed by Oberon Middle School in Arvada, then Red Rocks Elementary School in Morrison.
Hackberry Hill Elementary School in Arvada came in first for the schools with the highest percentage of winners versus entries. Fairmount Elementary School in Golden got second in this category and Conifer High School came in third.
The I Love to Read contest is offered to kindergarten-through-eighth grade students. Students draw a picture and complete the sentence “I Love to Read because …” The entries are then compiled into an I Love to Read ebook.
Like the writing contest, awards were given for first-through-third place winners and an honorable mention for each grade level. Winning schools in the I Love to Read contest are Green Gables Elementary School Lakewood, first place; Woodrow Wilson Academy in Westminster, second place; and Everitt Middle School in Wheat Ridge, third place.
The ceremony’s guest speaker was Claudia Mills, who spoke on her journey to becoming an award-winning author.
“To all the young writers out there,” Mills said to the contest winners, “all of you have stories to tell that no one else can. Go and tell those stories.”
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