Staff Report for The Island Eye News
Forty-one high school juniors and seniors from across the state have been named finalists in the fifth South Carolina High School Writing Contest. Isle of Palms resident, Chloe Koth, a junior at Charleston County School of the Arts is among the finalists.
“We started in 2013 with 23 finalists,” said Steven Lynn, dean of the South Carolina Honors College and founder of the contest. “We are really impressed with the quality and quantity of writing we’ve received this year.”
As in years before, the topic is “How can we make South Carolina better?”
“These students are our future leaders, and it’s important to understand their viewpoints. They could have solutions—or the seeds to solutions—to the problems we are facing now and in the future,” Lynn says.
Students respond in the genre of their choice—poetry, fiction, essay, drama, letter—within a maximum of 750 words. The contest is open to juniors and seniors in public, private and home schools. Writings by the finalists will be included in an anthology published by the South Carolina Honors College.
Nationally recognized poet Sam Amadon, an assistant professor of English and creative writing at the University of South Carolina, will judge this year’s contest. Amadon is the author of “Like a Sea,” winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize, and “The Hartford Book,” winner of the Believer Poetry Book Award. His poems have appeared in “American Poetry Review,” “Boston Review,” “The New Yorker” and elsewhere.
Amadon spoke to the finalists April 12 on the university’s campus for Round 2 of the competition, which included a second, timed, writing test with students responding to an impromptu topic.
The Honors College partners with the university’s School of Library and Information Sciences to present the contest.
First-place winner will receive $1,000 and the Walter Edgar Award, funded by SCHC alumnus Thad Westbrook and named for his professor, a South Carolina historian and writer.
The second-place winner will receive $500 and the Dorothy Skelton Williams Award, funded by an anonymous donor and named for the late upstate public school educator. The third-place winner will receive $250.
“I taught college freshmen for many years; young people have insightful, interesting, often brilliant things to say,” said Lynn, who has published books on Samuel Johnson, on critical theory, on the history of rhetoric and composition and on writing strategies.
Winners will be announced mid-summer.