Successful journalists are often asked where they received their inspiration to write, and respond that their English teachers ignited their imagination and inspired them to pursue creative writing.
Hundreds of entries were submitted to the Young Writer's Contest, which encourages middle school students interested in learning to be better writers. All worked with their English teachers to receive recognition.
Though some enjoyed the intrinsic rewards of their efforts, cash award winners were selected for grades 6-8. The finalists, their teachers and schools are to be congratulated!
The Mt. Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club held its annual Young Writer's Contest awards banquet in May, attended by members, award winners and their families and teachers. Cash awards of $100, $50 and $25 were given to winners in short story, poetry and personal narrative or essay categories from students throughout the area in grades 6-8. The Betty Tenney Essay Award of $100 is awarded for first place personal narrative winners at each grade level.
"This year we had 475 entries from public and private schools throughout Contra Costa County," said local author Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff, chairwoman of the program.
Congratulations to the winners, listed below with their winning entry, teacher and school.
Second place: Micalyn Struble, Dorris-Eaton School, Walnut Creek, "Warning: New School Ahead," (teacher Mary Dickens).
Third place: Lauren Russell, Windemere Ranch Middle School, San Ramon, "Just One Step," (teacher Diana Kaplenko).
Seventh-grade personal narrative first-place winner Eli O'Brien wrote "OMPA." Teacher Cecilia Kilmartin of Orinda Middle School also coached Olivia Fishlow, who took second place for "Without Her."
Third place: Callyn Oshita, Gale Ranch Middle School, San Ramon, "A Deadly Snack," (teacher Andrea Kopshever).
Eighth-grade personal narrative first-place winner Samira Maboudian, Orinda Middle School, wrote "Podium Fright," (teacher Lori Hardy).
Second place: Connor Roberts, "Unsung Courage." Deeni Schoenfeld of Dorris-Eaton was also teacher of Max Yun, third-place recipient, "An Individual of Inspiration."
Second place: Ciara Show, The Athenian School, Danville, "Beauty of Death," (teacher Meg Freedman).
Third place: Vivian Pang, Gale Ranch Middle School, "Runner's Racetrack," (teacher Lauren Smith).
Seventh-grade short story first-place winner Peyton Annoni of North Creek Academy in Walnut Creek wrote "Fetters of Hate," (teacher Jamie Williams).
Second place: Molli L. Fagan, Queen of All Saints School, Concord, "Paranoia," (teacher Katie Perata-Andrews).
Third place: Kate Nerone, Orinda Middle School, "Beyond the Threshold," (teacher Cecilia Kilmartin).
Eighth-grade winners of the short story category included Pooja Kini, a student of Gale Ranch Middle School's Jordan Milat, who took first place with "Ji, Dida."
Second place: Lauren Furman, Stone Valley Middle School, Alamo, "The Boy of Smoke and Ashes," (teacher Courtney Konopacky).
Third place: Sophie Cipolla, Pine Valley Middle School, "A Week in the Life of a Cat," (teacher Sylvia Hegarty).
Second place: Genevieve DeWalt, The Athenian School, "I Asked," (teacher Meg Freedman).
Third place: Akunna Ekeh, Dallas Ranch Middle School, Antioch, "Stand Back," (teacher Kevin Lanski).
Seventh-grade first-place poetry winner Sarah Mardjuki of Dorris-Eaton wrote "Memories Gone," (teacher Melissa Parker), also taught second-place winner, Kismat Dhaliwal, "One in a Million."
Third place: Megan Gladden, Kings Valley Christian School, Concord, "My Calico," (teacher Lee Ann Pfotzer).
Winners of the eighth-grade poetry category included first-place finisher, Arielle Wenokur of Dorris-Eaton, for "The Gopher," (teacher Brad Breilein).
Second place: Max Yun, Dorris-Eaton, "I Love To Hate," (teacher Deeni Schoenfeld).
Third place: Carolyn Buxton, Bristow Middle School, Brentwood, "There Lies You,"(teacher Shawna Borba).
The Young Writers program began in 1995 with 30 submissions from the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Free writing workshops are offered at local libraries and taught by children's authors Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff and Sarah Wilson. The next workshop will be from 3 to 5 p.m. July 18, at the Clayton Community Library, for middle school and high school students.
The Leroe Foundation provides grant funding for free poetry and short story writing workshops in local middle schools taught by Pleasant Hill poet David Alpaugh and Martinez novelist Beverly Lauderdale.
There is still room in future workshops, but availability is on a first-come, first-served basis. Interested teachers and students should send an e-mail to email@example.com.
For more information about the Mt. Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club, visit www.cwcmtdiablowriters.wordpress.com.
Playing in the dirt
Teens from several Jewish temples in the area gathered at the Pleasant Hill Instructional Garden for their annual community service day -- J-Serve -- along with DVC's International Club and De La Salle volunteers to remove weeds and plant wildflowers.
Master Gardeners led a group to repair the woodland path at the site, and cleared other paths of overgrowing plants. They cleaned the birdbath and refreshed it with fresh water for birds and insects.
The "Ask a Master Gardener" table provided information for participants on water conservation and wildlife habitats. Bob Swanson, retired meteorologist, talked about the weather station, and the Mt. Diablo Beekeepers Association provided an informative talk about beekeeping. Visitors had an opportunity to engage in educational games and take home a prize.
The Pleasant Hill Instructional Garden is located off Oak Park Boulevard at 1 Santa Barbara Road, near the Pleasant Hill Library.
California Pacific Federal Credit Union encouraged young members to establish and grow their savings accounts through their annual Savings Challenge. As part of the National Credit Union Youth Week celebrations, registered savers ages 2-17, earned automatic raffle entries for every $10 incremental increase to their accounts.
Ten winners were randomly selected from the entries and took home a coin-counting bank filled with $1 gold coins in increments from $10 to $100. Over the course of the challenge, more than 65 registered participants collectively saved more than $30,000.
During Youth Week, children making deposits were able to empty their change into a coin counter free of charge and received a free green piggy bank made from recycled U.S. currency. On the final day of the festivities, employees treated the members to root beer floats, popcorn and other treats.
According to the research results of the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, students with bank accounts tend to be more financially literate than those without.
California Pacific FCU's commitment to serve their younger members reflects their belief that financial education has the greatest impact on young people when basics such as money management, savings and investing, and wise use of credit are taught early. For more information on the nonprofit financial institution serving Contra Costa County, visit www.calpacfcu.org or call 925-677-0850.
The Rotary Club of Concord-Diablo, inspired by "Tree City USA," teamed up with the city of Concord in April to plant a tree near the Concord Library. They often partner with the library to support its efforts in book sales, book donations and fundraisers.
Participating in the tree planting was Jeff Kasper, president Concord-Diablo Rotary; Edi Birsan, both community service director of Concord-Diablo Rotary and president of the Friends of the Concord Library; Chris Llata and Ron Hall, tree planting and park maintenance specialist for Concord; and Nancy Glenfield, Karen Mahshi and Dirk Wentling, all Concord-Diablo Rotary members.
The Concord-Diablo Rotary Club meets at 12:15 p.m. Wednesdays, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 45 John Glenn Drive. Residents who have community service projects or books to donate to the library can contact Birsan at EdiBirsan@astound.net or 925-798-3537.
'Pints for Prostates'
Diablo Valley Oncology, Pacific Urology and Pyramid Brewery are co-sponsoring "Pints for Prostates" from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 13, at Pyramid Alehouse, 1410 Locust St., in Walnut Creek.
Event founder, Rick Lyke, a prostate cancer survivor, will be the keynote speaker, raising awareness of the need for regular health screenings and PSA testing.
For a $20 donation, those attending will receive the "Pints Package," which includes a custom beer glass, beer, wrist band, hors d'oeuvres and a raffle ticket. "Pints for Prostates" is a 501c nonprofit organization. Space is limited, and places can be reserved by calling 925-677-5041 or visiting www.DiabloValleyOncology.md/contact.
"Good Neighbors" is compiled by Faith Barnidge. Send club and organization news, Scouting items, notices of awards and other submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.