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WCPS Students Named Finalists in 2021 Young Authors’ Contest

After receiving hundreds of submissions from talented writers, the Eastern Shore Literacy Association (ESLA) is proud to announce the finalists in the 2021 Young Authors’ Contest, including 17 students from six schools of Wicomico County Public Schools.

Students in grades 1-12 submitted an original writing artifact that was judged using a blind scoring method to determine finalists. Finalists are individuals who have finished in the top three in their respective category – poetry or short story – and grade level.

“Being most of our local schools transitioned to virtual learning, we were very nervous as to whether students would continue to submit entries at the same volume as the past,” ESLA Young Authors’ Contest Chair Dr. Brian Cook explained as entries came in from 22 different schools, public, private, and homeschools. “We have been fortunate to have been laying the groundwork for many years improving the elements of the contest where many of our students and teachers are geared towards supporting the Young Authors’ Contest year in year out. It made a huge difference as many of our regular teachers continued supporting the contest through the pandemic, but we also found a lot of different schools submitting entries as well this year, which speaks volumes about prestige about the contest.”

Students from Wicomico County Public Schools who are finalists are listed below, alphabetically by last name in each grade and category. The order shown below does not reflect the placement where student authors finished in the contest, and does not list winners from outside Wicomico County Public Schools. Placement awards will be announced later this week.

Congratulations to all!


Young Authors’ 2021 Finalists from Wicomico County Public Schools:


Grade 3, Poetry – Samantha G. Martinenza, North Salisbury Elementary

Grade 3, Short Story – Reese Bradford, Glen Avenue Elementary; Jeremy Quan, North Salisbury Elementary


Grade 6, Short Story – Charlotte Malone, Salisbury Middle


Grade 7, Poetry – Abigail Saulitis, Salisbury Middle


Grade 8, Poetry – Alana Duffy, Bennett Middle; Jessica Thomas, Bennett Middle

Grade 8, Short Story – Carter Sollars, Bennett Middle


Grade 10, Poetry – Emily Garlock, James M. Bennett High

Grade 10, Short Story – Henna Parmar, James M. Bennett High; Merin Thomas, James M. Bennett High


Grade 11, Poetry – Cristina Avanessian, James M. Bennett High; Maya Matava, James M. Bennett High

Grade 11, Short Story – Shannon Cottingham, Mardela Middle and High; Rosy Gao, James M. Bennett High; Katie Mitchell, James M. Bennett High


Grade 12, Poetry – Sophia Smith, James M. Bennett High


Finalists and their families, teachers, school administrators, and central office personnel will experience a different type of awards ceremony this year to support the safety of all involved.  In support of local health department guidelines, the Young Authors’ Contest will not be coming together in a large group setting to present the awards. Instead, the traditional finalist postcards were sent to finalists and awards will be delivered to schools by the end of February. ESLA will communicate with school principals asking them to hand out student awards the best manner they see fit. The winning work of each student will be featured in a digital anthology that will be available online in March.

“We are disappointed we cannot come together at Salisbury University like past years because it is a very special evening for our finalists. Walking the grounds of historic Holloway Hall and students hearing their name as they are called to walk across the stage to get their award and photograph taken is fantastic experiences for our young writers,” ESLA Young Authors’ Contest Co-Chair Lizanne Wallace stated about past award ceremonies. “Many families and school personnel have given us high compliments and told us how impactful the experience has been for their students.”


About the Eastern Shore Literacy Association: Eastern Shore Literacy Association is a nonprofit organization with the mission to improve the level of literacy in the lower three counties (Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester) on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  It promotes quality literacy instruction by supporting the mission of the State of Maryland Literacy Association and International Literacy Association, disseminating best literacy practices to educators and parents, advocating for literacy issues through legislation, and collaborating with educational institutions, professional organizations and businesses. The group is active in the Lower Eastern Shore communities supporting literacy initiatives and individuals who have sparked a passion for reading. The group is made up primarily of K-12 educators (both current and retired) from public and private schools across Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore as well as individuals active in the higher education community.