Palisades Library Writing Contest Celebrates Winners

By Sue Pascoe
Photos by Matt Stockman

The Palisades Library community room was packed on Oct. 4, as the annual winners of the summer writing contest were announced.

Actors Bill Jones and Christine Kludjian once again added their dramatic talents to the award-winning stories, making the words come alive.

“We have the best time doing this,” said Kludjian, who urged the kids and parents, “Block out an hour and let’s just have story time.”

From fiction and nonfiction to poems and thrillers, some stories brought laughter, while others kept the audience in suspense. All students were loudly applauded for their efforts, and the actors kept everyone entertained with their dramatic talent.

Audience members listened to actors Bill Jones and Christine Kludjian dramatic interpretation of the winning entries.

SCRIBBLERS (first and second grades)

First went to Riley Keston of Marquez Elementary School. Her amusing story, “Once I Wanted to Be a Bat,” was about a young girl who said “I am a bat,” and cited reasons such as “I was nocturnal.” But, hanging by a leg on the playground bars showed her “being a bat was not a wise choice. Now I am a cat.”

Second was Gabe Smith from Canyon Charter School, who wrote “The Chess Tournament.” A young boy loved to play chess and went to his first tournament. “He was the youngest in the tourney and had to play a boy who was six years older.” Our hero took his opponent’s queen and won the tourney. Actor Jones, who read the piece, wondered if it was autobiographical. Smith admitted it was.

Marquez Charter’s Jace Brett was third with his memory piece, “The Sea Glass Hunt.” He spoke about the day he went sea glass hunting with his father at Will Rogers Beach and the piece she found: green-like emeralds, red like rubies and milk white like a moonstone.

(Front row, left to right) Jace Brett, Gabe Smith and Riley Keston, the writing winners for Scribblers, posed with actors Bill Jones and Christine Kludjian.

JOTTERS (third and fourth grades)

First went to a thrilling pirate tale, “Jolly Roger’s Cave,” by Oliver O’Donnell of Palisades Elementary School. A tale of how a pirate buried a treasure in a cave—and “100 years later two kids at St. Matthew’s school camp went into the cave.” Max disappears and the other kid retrieves the treasure after an earthquake, facing a skeleton and fighting off a bear ghost. But later, as the young boy drives home with his mom in an SUV, he says, “No one knows what happened to Max.”

Second was “The Legend of Bassy” by Audrey Smith of Canyon Elementary School. A giant sea serpent named Bassy lived in a lake near a sleepover camp. Since the serpent only came out at night, the girls were challenged by their friend to wake up at 1 a.m. and sneak out to see it. Claire is reluctant, but finally agrees. A harrowing dream experience follows, but the result is Claire, when finally wakened to go see Bassy, has found her self-confidence and firmly says “No.”

“Life with the Fisher’s” by Rumya Elashoff, of Marquez, starts with “a clang” and “a bang” which wake up Angie to see her “monkey-faced brother” on her bed clanging two pots. Dealing with a younger sibling is not easy, but as Angie’s father explains, “He loves you, he just doesn’t know how to show it.”

(Front row, left to right) Jotters winners Oliver O’Donnell, Audrey Smith and Rumya Elashoff pose with the actors.

SCRAWLERS (fifth and sixth grades)

First went to Hannah Lunkewitz, of Calvary Christian School, for “One Swallow Made My Summer.” A lovely tale of how a young girl nurses a sick swallow and learns to feed it. “How many flies a day does a swallow, swallow?” Sixty an hour, which means she presses her brothers into helping her feed it. Then, she held the bird in her hand and “In a fraction of a second it flew away.”

“Imagine” by Parker Keston, of Marquez, took second with her musings about “Imagine that words were never invented” and then she would have to talk in signals or dance or colors or art. But, luckily there are words, making this writing contest possible.

Third was “Over the Mountains,” a poem by Hannah Story Steinberg of The Hillside School. One stanza went “Over the hills/Over the sea/Over the mountains/I wait for me.”

SCRIBES (seventh and eighth grades)

The winner, “Rainy Days” by Emma Kate Lindren, of Berkeley Hall School, is a poem that detailed how “Rainy days are like look- ing out of a prison, although I’ve never been to prison.” The piece had nice imagery, such as “The rain is having fun sky diving.”

Second went to Maya Millner’s “The Death of a Knight.” The New West Charter School student wrote historical fiction about a young girl, Matilda. The story begins: “I was powerless as the love of my life drove a sword through my chest.” Then that sentence is explained in the story.

The girl was betrothed to an old man by her father. In love with a young man, Reginald, she knew she could never marry her father’s choice, so she ran away from home, hid her gender and became a knight. When she is discovered, she is sentenced to death and the person designated as her executor is Reginald.

Sydney Forrester, of Windward School, was third with “Every Second,” a memoir about a favorite uncle who had died of cancer. “I sat down and started to cry,” writes Forrester, and soon she was surrounded by her father, mother and other members of her family all sharing their grief. “And then it came to me, it was Jeff, my uncle, who was pulling us together and I realized he would always be in my life.”

AUTHORS (high school)

This year the sole winner was Andrew Schwartz, of Vistamar School, who wrote “The Game of Life” and urged in his poem: “We need to work as one” and “Let’s try not to divide the earth apart.”

Actor Jones noted after the ceremony, “Every year they seem to rise to another level, more profound and wiser in their approach.”

Kludjian added, “They seem to have more experiences in the world than we did. They’re exposed to more instantaneously than we were.”

New this year was a design contest.


The design by Parker Keston for “Imagine” was first; second went to “Ode to Owls” by Hannah Benharash, of Palisades Elementary School; and third to “I Wanted to Be a Bat” by Riley Keston.


There was a first-place tie between “Jolly Roger’s Cave” by Oliver O’Donnell and “Summer’s Dream” by Elsa O’Donnell, of Paul Revere Middle School.


First place went to “The Little Glass Doll” by Ava Bakhashandehpour, of Carlthorp School, and second was Hannah Lunkewitz for “One Swallow Made My Summer.”

Third place was a tie between Paul Lunkewitz, of Marquez School, for “Eclipse,” Emma Tillman’s, of Paul Revere, for  “It’s Snow Fun” and Audrey Smith’s “The Legend of Bassy.”

The top three winners in each age category in writing and art earned gift certificates ($100, $50 and $25) to Diesel Bookstore in the Brentwood Country Mart. All participants received a gift certificate to Sweet Rose Creamery on Monument.

Read the complete stories at

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