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SC high school writing finalists announced; contest triples in size


COLUMBIA, SC—Seventy-two high school juniors and seniors from across the state have been named finalists in the fourth South Carolina High School Writing Contest.

            “We started in 2013 with 23 finalists, so we have grown remarkably,” said Steven Lynn, dean of the South Carolina Honors College and founder of the contest. “We are impressed with the quality and quantity of writing we’ve received.”

            As in years before, the topic is “How can we make South Carolina better?” Students can respond in the genre of their choice—poetry, fiction, essay, drama, letter—in 750 words or less. 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 University of South Carolina Press.

            “We are committed to nurturing writing talent in South Carolina,” said Linda Haines Fogle, acting director of USC Press. “We are thrilled with how this contest has been received and flourished in such a short period of time.”

            The Press partners with the SCHC to present the contest. Other presenting partners are the Pat Conroy Literary Center, the South Carolina State Library, the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Sciences, and Young Palmetto Books, an imprint of USC Press. 

            Two nationally recognized writers from South Carolina will judge this year’s contest: Pam Durban, an Aiken native whose novels and short stories have won critical acclaim, and Nikky Finney, a Conway native whose “Head Off & Split” won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2011. Both will contribute to “Writing South Carolina: Selections from the Fourth High School Writing Contest,” which will include the work of the finalists.

            Durban and Finney will speak to the finalists on the campus of the University of South Carolina March 17, where Round 2 of the competition is planned. Round 2 includes a second, timed, writing test in which finalists respond to an impromptu topic.

            First-place winner in the senior class receives $1,000 and the Walter Edgar Award, funded by SCHC alumnus Thad Westbrook and named for his professor, the South Carolina historian and writer. First-place in the junior class receives $1,000 and the Dorothy Skelton Williams Award, funded by an anonymous donor and named for the late upstate public school educator. Second- and third-place winners in the junior and senior classes receive $500 and $250, respectively.

            “I taught college freshmen for many years, and I’ve learned our young people have interesting 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. “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.”



Junior Class Finalists

Roann Abdeladl, Greenville Technical Charter High School

Bailey Abedon, Charleston County School of the Arts

Noah Barnes, James F. Byrnes High School

Sophie Bellomy, Beaufort High School

AJ Blanton, Gaffney High School

Stephen Brooke, Wando High School

Reece Brown, James F. Byrnes High School

LaVang Bui, James F. Byrnes High School

Hunter Burgess, Gaffney High School

Vinita Cheepurupalli, Spring Valley High School

Erika Clark, Walhalla High School

Emilee Cox, West Florence High School

Molly Cribb, Spartanburg High School

Mary Kathryn Davidson, Home School

Morgan Davis, Wren High School

Macy Gault, Gaffney High School

Carleigh Gregory, Gaffney High School

Selah Hamby, James F. Byrnes High School

Chloë Hylkema, D.W. Daniel High School

Destiny Jackson, Berkeley County Middle College High School

Malachi Jones, Charleston County School of the Arts

Mia Jones, Scholars Academy, Conway

Taylor Kahn-Perry, Charleston County School of the Arts

Airielle Lowe, Socastee High School

Jason Mahaffey, James F. Byrnes High School

Mackenzie Marcum, James F. Byrnes High School

Naomi Matthusen, Dreher High School

Michelle Mayer, Wren High School

Haven Miller, Home School

Janneke Morin, Socastee High School

Landon Phipps, James F. Byrnes High School

Karlee Price, Gaffney High School

William Queen, Gaffney High School

Angel Rogers, James F. Byrnes High School

Adeline Rosenberger, James F. Byrnes High School

Natoria Smalls, Beaufort High School

Jasmine Smith, Porter-Gaud School

Sarah Suber, Beaufort High School

Amanda Taylor, Battery Creek High School

Molly Transou, Gaffney High School

Destiny Turner, Gaffney High School

Courtney Wickstrom, Charleston County School of the Arts

Senior Class Finalists

Morgan Mayne-Alexander, Beaufort High School

Alexandra Batista, Beaufort High School

Sam Beckley, James F. Byrnes High School

Charles Carter, James F. Byrnes High School

Shannon Dunn, Wren High School

Jessica Elkins, Beaufort High School

Kimberly Frisch, Carolina Forest High School

Cynthia Gonzales, James F. Byrnes High School

Steven Greer, James F. Byrnes High School

Madeline Hahn, Ridge View High School

Caleb Hylkema, D.W. Daniel High School

Madison Jones, Travelers Rest High School

Grace Justice, Ridge View High School

Alaina Kiffer, Crescent High School

Sydny Long, Nation Ford High School

Sandra Lopez, Woodruff High School

Maggie Mahoney, Lexington High School

Madison Motes, Wren High School

Mainaiya Myers, Ridge View High School

Conrad Pentaleri, Christ Church Episcopal School

Codie Powell, James F. Byrnes High School

Camryn Quick, Hartsville High School

Aydian Rainey, James F. Byrnes High School

Constance Reid, Chester Senior High School

Jesni Sam, Ridge View High School

Savannah St. Peter, James F. Byrnes High School

Chyna Wallace, Dutch Fork High School

Shionnah Wallace, Charleston County School of the Arts

Victoria Wiley, Woodruff High School