A freshman English assignment taught two Guilford High School students a valuable lesson: the power of revision in making their writing better. It worked so well, they won top honors in a local writing contest.
Guilford freshmen Grace Noakes and Auna Gadomski won first and second place, respectively, in the high school division of the "It's Alive!" ghost story writing contest. The contest was a project of the Rockford Public Library, coordinated by Zoe Norwood, and the Rockford University English department, coordinated by Dr. Mary Weaks-Baxter. It marked the 200th anniversary of "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley.
The winners were celebrated at Rockford University's well-attended event "Spooked: Words and Music for the Dead of Night" on Oct. 26. Rockford University performing arts students read each story aloud with effective dramatic interpretation. Grace's story, "We All Fall Down," is set in France and, through the main character's viewpoint, explores the beginning of this future serial killer's mindset and behaviors. Auna's story, "The Closet," examines a family's encounters with a supernatural entity seen through the eyes of the teenage daughter.
About her story, Grace stated, "I learned by writing that I could even scare myself with the words I was putting on the page." About her story, Auna observed, "I learned that it's hard to come up with a concept, but it's important to keep going because you improve and grow the concept as you keep writing." Additionally, both students recognized the value of revising and editing through the writing process. Grace said, "It taught me that words, though they don't seem like much, can really make an impact on how someone feels when written correctly." Auna explained, "I revised it like three times; my mom even read it for me. I had lots of rewrites."
Teachers in the English 9 Professional Learning Community (PLC) at Guilford decided earlier this semester to include the ghost story writing contest as one option for the quarter one student-written short story summative assignment. This assignment is part of the district's new curriculum for English 9 and honors English 9. Christopher Mueller and I – the two English teachers accepting submissions – received a number of stories from students. We feel gratified that so many students took the contest seriously.
Guilford Freshman Academy principal Amish Shah commented, "I am excited that the new English 9 curriculum is allowing our freshmen to extend their learning beyond the classroom. Our staff and students worked hard to create these stories, and I am proud of the excellent work they have produced." He added, "I am truly inspired by the creativity among the freshmen students and the dedication the teachers have for our students."
They all look forward to participating in next year's contest!
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