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WCPS Students Named Winners in 2020 Young Authors’ Contest

The Eastern Shore Literacy Association (ESLA) filled Holloway Hall Auditorium at Salisbury University the evening of Wednesday, March 4 to announce the 2020 Young Authors’ Contest winners. With more than 200 entries encompassing public, private, and homeschooled students on the Shore’s lower three counties, the contest continues to become more and more competitive as the quality of writing reaches ever higher levels.

“We are very proud of the students who entered this year’s contest,” Dr. Brian Cook, ESLA Young Authors’ Contest Co-Chair, said. The contest was comprised of students in grades 1-12 in two categories, poetry and short story, for each grade level. Finalists in each category were invited to attend the awards ceremony to learn how their work placed in this year’s Young Authors’ Contest, and almost all of the finalists were there.

“Anytime you can highlight a child who is working and challenging themselves to improve their writing is a huge win. Many of our students here tonight were first-time winners and were beaming as they came up to receive their award; it was truly exciting,” Dr. Cook said.

The 1st Place winners in each grade level and category were forwarded onto the state level competition hosted by the State of Maryland Literacy Association. The Lower Shore had three students garner a 1st or 2nd place ranking in the state Young Authors’ Contest:


Jenny Chen, James M. Bennett High, Grade 11 Short Story – 1st Place

Emily Garlock, James M. Bennett High, Grade 9 Poetry – 2nd Place

Maya Matava, James M. Bennett High, Grade 10 Poetry – 2nd Place


“We continue to be well represented at the state level,” Lizanne Wallace, ESLA Young Authors’ Contest Co-Chair. “It is no longer uncommon to have Eastern Shore students place at the state. Our writers continue to get better and better every year. We are proud of their accomplishments as well their teacher’s dedication to improve writing instruction. The Young Authors’ Contest is reaping the benefits of strong teachers.”

Prior to announcing awards winner students were inspired by the words of children’s author Claudia Friddell. Friddell touted the talents of the young writers and encouraged them to never give up on the writing process. A former elementary teacher, Friddell shared with students about her passion for discovering and sharing exciting, real-life stories. Friddell is the author of George Washington’s SpiesGoliath, Hero of the Great Baltimore Fire, and her upcoming book, Saving Lady Liberty. Friddell was available to socialize with students at a reception after the awards ceremony, and even asked them to autograph their winning work in her copy of the 2020 Young Authors’ book.


Young Authors’ 2020 Winners from Wicomico County Public Schools:


Grade 2, Poetry – 2nd Place: La’nya Randall, Glen Avenue Elementary

Grade 2, Short Story – 1st Place: Montane Kilgoe, Glen Avenue Elementary


Grade 3, Poetry – 1st Place: Callan Bergquist, North Salisbury Elementary; 2nd Place: Jackson Reddish, North Salisbury Elementary; 3rd Place: London Noelle Morton, North Salisbury Elementary

Grade 3, Short Story – 2nd Place: Yamose Alazy, Delmar Elementary


**Grade 4, Poetry – 1st Place: Cooper Senter, North Salisbury Elementary; 3rd Place tie, Trezdon Santos, North Salisbury Elementary and Avery Wiltbank, North Salisbury Elementary

Grade 4, Short Story – 2nd Place: Reed Luppens, North Salisbury Elementary


Grade 5, Poetry – 1st Place: Peyton Davis, North Salisbury Elementary; 3rd Place: Karsyn Pete, North Salisbury Elementary

**Grade 5, Short Story – 1st Place, Madison Wheeler, Pittsville Elementary and Middle; 2nd Place: Charlotte Malone, North Salisbury Elementary; 3rd Place (tie): Peter Jin, North Salisbury Elementary


Grade 6, Poetry – 2nd Place: Alex Catlin, Salisbury Middle; 3rd Place: Hannah Taylor, Salisbury Middle

Grade 6, Short Story – 1st Place: Charles Williams, Salisbury Middle


Grade 7, Poetry – 3rd Place: Diva Shrestha, Salisbury Middle

Grade 7, Short Story – 2nd Place: Ava Baer, Mardela Middle and High


Grade 8, Short Story – 1st Place: Ella Vilmar, Bennett Middle


Grade 9, Poetry – 1st Place: Emily Garlock, James M. Bennett High


Grade 10, Poetry – 1st Place: Maya Matava, James M. Bennett High

**Grade 10, Short Story – 1st Place: Madeline Umsted, Mardela Middle and High; 2nd Place (tie) Rosy Gao, James M. Bennett High; 3rd Place: Shannon Cottingham, Mardela Middle and High


Grade 11, Short Story – 1st Place: Jenny Chen, James M. Bennett High; 2nd Place: Sophia Smith, James M. Bennett High


*Grade 12, Short Story – 1st Place: Mulan Bell, James M. Bennett High


*Indicates category did not have three finalists.

**Indicates category had a tie resulting in more than three finalists.


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.