WMU launches Best Midwestern High School Writing contest

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Photo of a pen on a page full of handwritten notes.

Deadline for the high school writing competition is Jan. 10, 2013.

KALAMAZOO—Who says kids these days can’t write? Western Michigan University's Lee Honors College, in partnership with the Department of English and its Third Coast Writing Project, has created a writing competition for high school students to demonstrate that young writers can display extraordinary talent for the craft.

Organizers of the Best Midwestern High School Writing contest hope to draw the exemplary work of young people from across a six-state region. The creative, non-fiction or journalistic writing entries that outshine all others will win young writers cash prizes and publication in the honors college’s literary magazine, The Laureate.

This new competition is the brainchild of Charles and Lynn Zhang, longtime friends of WMU and of the honors college, who pledged financial support to launch what will become an annual program.

"It was inspired by their commitment to writing," Lee Honors College Dean Nicholas Andreadis says of the Zhangs. "They have enormous respect for WMU’s outstanding creative writing program and are eager for the whole nation to know about it."

Best Midwestern High School Writing contest

In this inaugural year, the writing contest will focus on six states, but the long-term vision is for the contest to be open to high school students from across the country.

Students from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin may enter the competition at this time. Teachers will nominate student work they believe merits submission. All entries must be accompanied by a teacher recommendation, along with meeting other requirements.

The contest will accept creative, non-fiction and journalistic writing. In each of these three writing categories, prizes will go to the top three students in two grade groups, 9/10 and 11/12. First-place winners receive $500, while those coming in at second and third place will win $300 and $150, respectively.

The teachers of winning students will receive a stipend to use for classroom resources and their schools will be recognized in press releases and on the competition website.

 "This award program is as much about celebrating great teachers as it is great writing," Andreadis says.

“We want to raise awareness—at a time in which people are turning to shorthand forms of writing—that there is still power in writing well and communicating clearly a point of view. Students of the future will distinguish themselves in the job market or in graduate school by being able to write coherently and effectively,” he adds.

The deadline to enter the high school writing competition is Jan. 10, and winners will be announced in March.

For more information about the contest, visit wmich.edu/honors/writing.