Power of the Pen team earns third place


A team of seventh graders at Dempsey Middle School recently took third place at a Power of the Pen competition in Dublin.

The regional competition was held at Ann Simpson Davis Middle School on March 2. During the competition, a team of six seventh graders were given 40 minutes and a prompt with which to write a short fictional story. After three rounds of creating stories, the works were judged and ultimately the team from Dempsey took third place out of 30 teams.

Libby Glissman, one of the members of the team, said she was initially discouraged when none of the members of the team earned individual awards and was thrilled when the team won an overall award.

“I was really excited we got third,” Glissman said.

The team competed in a district competition in February and said the first tournament made them more comfortable heading into the regional competition.

“This was our second tournament, and I felt like a lot of us really improved in the couple of weeks between the two tournaments,” said Jasmine Ho, a seventh grader on the team. “I could tell I was doing a lot better with the time limit and experience… There’s a lot of things to think about when you’re writing a story; creativity and how well you’re writing it. Using a time limit isn’t for every writer but … it’s a little competitive, which is fun.”

Team member Suri Singh said the first experience was “very helpful,” and she was more easily able to write at the regional competition.

“I was a lot more comfortable than the first one,” Singh said. “It’s really stressful, but once I get the idea, I get into the flow of it. It’s a fun, fun environment.”

Glissman said the time limit adds pressure to the competition, but she enjoyed the experience.

“I’m a big perfectionist, so the time limit stresses me out,” Glissman said. “It’s definitely stressful in the moment, but it’s helpful. It’s really stressful when you first get the prompt because I’m thinking of all the things I could do. Eventually, you just have to pick something and start writing.”

Emi Sonnier said she thought it was “super cool” that the team earned third place and felt she improved at the second competition.

“It was really fun,” Sonnier said. “Especially because I knew how hard we had all worked. I improved a lot. I was able to give my characters a lot more depth. It was honestly really fun, and I was kind of sad when I had to turn them in.”

Sonnier said her process during the competition was to come up with a main idea and then little ideas to fill out the story.

“Especially in those last 10 minutes, I’m seeing what I can do to improve it,” she said. “It’s all in your head. There’s a million things to think about, and it’s super fun. People don’t realize a lot of the vulnerability you put in writing. A lot of my writing comes from personal experiences. (If I write about a character) under a lot of stress … that’s my personal reflection of school assignments and stuff. You’re putting this all on the page for someone to read, just hoping they like it. It takes me 5 minutes to come up with the basic plot and after that, my pen can’t move fast enough.”

Ho added that coming up with a story quickly without thinking too hard about it is “the trait of a strong writer.”

“It feels really empowering to get what you’re thinking on paper and get it done fast,” Ho said. “Sometimes it can feel overwhelming because you’re in a silent room and everybody is writing… In the end, you just need to think about writing and immersing yourself in that story. You realize that all those people writing, they all have a similar interest to you: creativity.”

Team members said they enjoy the supportive atmosphere at the club meetings and competitions.

“They are all trying to help, and it feels like there’s a community,” Ho said.

Glissman added that “we all have fun together.”

“I feel like there’s so much support,” Sonnier said. “Even the other people in the stands … most of us want the best for each other. We’re all there to have fun. It’s not only the coaches you’re learning from, it’s your teammates. It feels so much better when you realize you aren’t competing against the other people in the room, you are competing against the standards for yourself.”

Alyssa Garrison, a seventh grade teacher at Dempsey and the coach of the Power of the Pen team, said she was glad to see the team earn recognition.

“I thought it was rewarding to be able to see their hard work get recognized,” Garrison said. “They all have such a strong voice and creative ideas. For them to be able to share that with others and get recognized for it means a lot to them and is inspiring for me as a coach.”

Garrison said the team will know next week if any individual students will be selected to advance to the state competition at Ashland University in May.

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903.

No posts to display