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WRITE TOUCH | District’s Young Authors bound for success

PITTSBORO — Limited editions of some good reads are in an office at the headquarters of Chatham County Schools.

COVID-19 is physically distancing those titles from the authors who created the manuscripts for the 31st installment of the district’s Young Authors program, a partnership with McIntyre's Books in Fearrington Village. The arrangement allows for each manuscript to be bound twice, with the writer keeping a copy and the other book becoming part of the collection at the library where the student attends school. But the pandemic stuck a bookmark in the distribution.

Young Authors is for students in kindergarten through eighth grades. Distinguished authors are selected among writers in kindergarten through second grades; third through fifth grades; and sixth through eighth grades.Kim Johnson

The best of the bunch out of all of the grades earns the Mary Lee Moore Distinguished Young Author Award, which this time around belongs to Margaret B. Pollard Middle School's Sophia Baliff for penning “Lemon’s Game.”  

“I really didn't expect for my story to go so far,” Sophia said. “I hope people find the meaning behind the fear in the main character's everyday life — how her mind is always brimming with thoughts about how things could be different if people took the initiative to help 'save the earth'.”

“Wonder Park” earned Siler City Elementary School’s Kensley Smoak the Distinguished Young Author Award among students in kindergarten through second grades.

"My book is about a little girl named Lucky. She falls down a magical hole where she finds a magic key and discovers a magical place called Wonderpark," Kensley said. "She teams up with Froyo to save Wonderpark from the evil and ugly toys. Together, they restore Wonderpark, saving all the fun and adventure for everyone."

In the category for writers in third through fifth grades, Perry W. Harrison Elementary School’s Samuel Resnik emerged as the Distinguished Young Author with “Separated: A Holocaust Story.”

"I have been working on getting this prestigious award since I was in kindergarden," Samuel said. "My book is a story about the Holocaust and how a normal person living a normal life got affected by such a terrible event. The main character goes through her whole life scared by the Holocaust. After a long time she goes to her old city on a business trip and runs into her parents when she thought she lost them forever. I want my readers to be informed that such a terrible and inhumane event happened in history. I want my readers to experience the shock of living your normal life and having a terrible event change your life for the worst — similar to what's going on now."

Chatham Middle School’s Emmanuel Hernandez Castaneda is the Distinguished Young Author among sixth- through eighth-graders with “I Am Miguel Angel.”

“My book was written for people to see what many immigrants have to face in order to come to the United States,” Emmanuel said. “Something I want readers to gain from this is simply to understand that [the reason] immigrants ... come to the United States is because they want to live [both] a better and successful life, and that they shouldn't be seen as bad people.”

Sophia, too, was aiming to promote understanding.

“Lemon's Game is a story about the future and how life might be for the upcoming generations,” Sophia said. “It focuses on one girl and her means of survival in an overpopulated world. She doesn't have a good life; in fact, far from it, evident by the fact that she is taking part in illegal actions in her day-to-day life. It's a look into the not-so-pretty side of teenage lives while also subtly warning you of the dangers of the future.”

There's been an uptick in Young Authors participation among middle school students at Silk Hope School — over the years it's mostly been submissions from kids at the elementary level, said Kim Johnson, the media specialist at the school. 

To see students who are self-motivated to write from the heart and share with the world has been very encouraging,” Johnson said. 

Bonlee School media specialist Cari Ann Brick welcomes more participation at her campus but salutes the students who put in the work to transfer thoughts from their craniums to their Chromebooks.

I am proud of those who do try and submit a book,” Brick said.

Published May 2, 2020