Two students from Dempsey Middle School travelled to the College of Wooster Friday for the Power of the Pen state competition and returned home with high marks.
Mia Angulo, a seventh-grader, and Briona Mumper, an eighth-grader, took part in the writing competition where 700 participants were given a prompt and a set amount of time to write a piece.
Angulo won “Best of the Best” in the competition, and her work will be published in this year’s Power of the Pen anthology, while Mumper placed as a finalist and competed in the power round, where 54 writers are asked to do one more piece.
Hilarie Barry, an intervention specialist at Dempsey and advisor to the team, said Angulo was given a journal and blue ribbon for placing in “Best of the Best.” She added both students were given certificates for their participation.
Angulo said on Thursday that she had been practicing for the state competition ever since the regional contest in March, but she was still nervous.
At the regional contest, Angulo said she used familiar characters to write a story about “a time a sibling was right,” which was the prompt. She wrote a story about a pair of brother and sister wolves who enter a cursed forest, despite the brother’s objection.
“I felt pretty happy with it,” Angulo said. “They are enjoyable characters.”
Mumper said Thursday that she couldn’t remember her exact prompt in March, but she wrote a story about a “terrorist” in a dystopian future who commits suicide rather than accidentally give up any information to authorities.
“It was just something that showed up,” Mumper said, adding that ahead of the state competition, she wasn’t worried about practicing.
“Pretty much the only pastime I have is writing,” Mumper said. “I just practice all the time, because writing is one of the only things I do.”
Both Amanda Lucero, an ELA teacher and fellow Power of the Pen coach, and Barry said Thursday that they would be judging writing at the state competition, although they obviously wouldn’t be able to read Angulo’s and Mumper’s work until the competition had finished.
Lucero said she connects to darker stories like the one Mumper wrote in the competition.
“I always look for something to evoke emotion,” Lucero said. “Every time, without a doubt, I will cry at something, and I’m always just so amazed at how they put so much figurative language and symbolism in such a short time.”
Barry said she is the opposite.
“I like the happy stuff or stories where it’s just very peaceful, calm, quieter, and based on emotion,” she said.
Barry praised the creativity and work of Mumper and Angulo.
“What these girls and their other teammates are able to write just continuously amazes me,” Barry said. “They are just so creative. I’m constantly wondering where this is all coming from. It’s a rewarding experience.”
“It’s really inspiring, honestly,” Lucero added. “I want to go home and write.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.