May 10, 2006

Little winners

We learned late yesterday, after carting the mail around in the truck unread for most of the day -- first to piano lessons and then to Swim Club -- that Daniel's and Laura's story entries had won for their categories (Grade 1 and Grades 2/3, respectively) in our local weekly's writing contest, as part of a bigger event, "Write On" (ugh), sponsored by the provincial weekly newspaper association. Local winners have their work and photos published in their town paper -- and oh the fun they had just seeing their names in print yesterday -- and then advance to the provincial level, where five grand prize winners will be selected (for grades 1-3, the prize is $100 and attendance at the big banquet at the association's convention in September) and announced at the association convention in the fall. None of my kids are as interested in the prize money ($100 each for their level) as in the possibility of being gifted with a free hotel stay and attending a banquet dinner.

I saw the ad announcing the contest when we returned from our trip in February, and like all good homeschooling parents saw a good opportunity, not to mention what I hoped would be a fun writing assignment. Aha! I thought, something for the old portfolios and the facilitator meeting. I wasn't the only one, because out of the four local winners, three are home schooled kids. I was particularly pleased to see that the contest rules specified that "All students registered in Alberta's public, separate [Catholic], private schools and home schooling are eligible..." since the sad fact is that homeschoolers are usually overlooked for things like this, and organizers respond to questions by looking frazzled and harried and muttering, "Hmm, we never thought about it. Maybe next time." Kids in Grades 1-3 had to write a "Creative Classified," an imaginative story based on a real classified ad. Daniel chose an ad about bulls for sale, and wrote about buying a bull to start his own farm; Laura chose an ad for a local pioneer history book, and imagined herself a young girl arriving here 100 years ago with her Ukrainian immigrant family. And while Daniel at first had trouble coming up with something near the 200 word limit, Laura's first drafts had to be slashed considerably, and she was as pained as any published author to see her words cut.

Needless to say, Davy expected to enter the contest too, even though the contest was open to kids in Grades 1-12 and as a kindergartener he was officially ineligible. But he dictated his story to me, about saving up to buy a red quad, and the woman at the newspaper who accepted his envelope made a great big unofficial fuss over his efforts. I gave him a lollipop and told him I hope he can write another wonderful, possibly prize-winning entry next year, when he'll finally be old enough.

Onward and upward...

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