**Editor's Note*** This story has been updated to reflect Mason Philpott earned the the third place honors for the third graders. The original story named Nathan Philpott. The staff regrets the error.

Franklin County’s youngest and most talented writers were honored Feb. 27 during an awards ceremony held in the Benjamin Franklin Middle School East Hall Auditorium.

The winners of the division’s first annual Young Writers Contest were awarded medallions, journals, pens, bookmarks and trophies for those winning first place.

“We are so proud and pleased to have such young and talented writers, and to know they love and care about writing,” said Brenda Muse, director of curriculum and instruction. “We had a very successful first contest and are already looking forward to conducting it again next year.”

The contest began as a vision of FCPS Instructional Coach Vicki Craighead, who was thanked during the ceremony for her “leadership and dedication to students.”

Students in third through fifth grades competed for the title of best writer by selecting a prompt and writing a short piece on that topic.

A team of judges, including teachers, one school board member and Muse, chose the winning essays from each grade level. There were 34 entries submitted.

“Our goal is to inspire students to write for a variety of purposes and to enjoy it,” Muse said.

Three winners were chosen from each grade level.

Overall division winners were:

Third grade: Mason Philpott (third place), Suzanne Waldron (second place), Lana Layman (first place)

Fourth grade: Caroline Brooks (third place), Asher Harris (second place), Ava Kerns (first place)

Fifth grade: Reid Workman (third place), Madelynn Meador (second place), Aaron Duke (first place)

“I am very excited about this event and to celebrate our young writers,” said Superintendent Mark Church, who encouraged the students to continue to write for enjoyment. “Good writing takes effort. It’s hard to get something from your head onto paper. But once you write something and it feels right, it’s a beautiful thing.”

Retired teacher and local author Lisa Chitwood spoke to students and parents during the event and encouraged students to write more letters and to make personal goals to write more.

Chitwood spoke of her favorite class lesson in which she taught students to write a friendly letter, their first and last name in cursive and to fill out an envelope. She talked about how the power of writing letters helped one of her former students overcome significant hardships in his life.

“Writing is a life skill that is powerful and effective,” Chitwood said.

After teaching in Franklin County for 36 years, and writing and publishing magazine articles, poetry and a children’s book titled, “Hunt with Your Heart,” Chitwood has formed a motto for herself and others.

“Writing is a way to let your voice be heard, so write with your heart and let your heart shine.”

To order a copy of Chitwood’s book, email rivahgirl7@yahoo.com.

Grade level winners from this year’s contest include:

Third grade: Alexander Nelson (Boones Mill), Amor Mata-Quintero (Burnt Chimney), Berkley Kimmel (Callaway), Lana Layman (Dudley), Corbin Austin (Ferrum), Samantha Wilson (Glade Hill), Mason Philpott (Henry), Caitlyn Altice (Lee M. Waid), Teddy Rand (Snow Creek), Jaela Maxwell (Sontag) and Suzanne Waldron (Windy Gap).

Fourth grade: Malachi Schweitzer (Boones Mill), Ella Howard (Burnt Chimney), Tucker Edmondson (Callaway), Ava Kerns (Dudley), Caroline Brooks (Ferrum), Jackson Dudley (Glade Hill), Grace Gary (Henry), Collette Davis (Lee M. Waid), Alison Hodges (Rocky Mount), Asher Harris (Snow Creek), Elisa Acosta (Sontag) and Leah Rutrough (Windy Gap).

Fifth grade: Nathan Pierce (Boones Mill), William Gillispie (Burnt Chimney), Marley Kirby (Callaway), Issabella Byers (Dudley), Aaron Duke (Ferrum), Sierra Plocher (Glade Hill), Denton Boardwine (Henry), Leighton Lang (Lee M. Waid), Madelynn Meador (Snow Creek), Brooke Weaver (Sontag) and Reid Workman (Windy Gap).

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