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Fifth-grader’s Story Tops with Readers

Kent ISD Students an Annual Presence in Statewide Competition

When the boat she was solo sailing on Reed’s Lake last summer capsized, Rachel Anne Williamson could see her mom onshore and knew her instructors were coming for her. Nonetheless, “I was concerned about hypothermia,” admitted the Breton Downs Elementary fifth-grader.

Rachel’s account of that windy day won in the youth readers’ choice category of the fourth annual Write Michigan Short Story Contest, a statewide competition created by Kent District Library and co-sponsored by Schuler Books & Music.

2016 Teen winners

  • Judges’ Choice: Chloe Stegman, homeschooled, Grand Rapids
  • Judges’ Choice Runner-Up: Lauren Wilkinson, Forest Hills Central High School
  • Readers’ Choice: Katie Winkle, Grand Rapids Christian Middle School
  • Published Finalists: Audrey Clayton, Grand Rapids Christian Middle School; Rachel Corley, Zeeland; Sammy D’Alexander, Forest Hills Central Woodlands Elementary

Youth winners

  • Judges’ Choice: Mae Rintala, Lake Ann
  • Judges’ Choice Runner-Up: Natalie Smith, Mattawan
  • Readers’ Choice: Rachel Anne Williamson, Breton Downs Elementary in East Grand Rapids
  • Published Finalists: Gabby DesJardins, Six Lakes; Parker Hammond, Northpointe Christian School in Grand Rapids; Madeline Oostema, school not disclosed

Sponsors of the 2015–16 Write Michigan contest include Aquinas College’s Contemporary Writers Series, Meijer and Bloom Sluggett Morgan

Almost 500 writers from across the state entered this year: 128 adults, 250 teens and 115 in the youth category. More than 100 volunteers, mostly library staff, read submissions to choose the semifinalists. Winners were chosen by public voting at the Write Michigan website for the $250 Readers’ Choice award, and by a panel of judges for the $250 Judges’ Choice and $100 Judges’ Choice Runner-up awards.

Being a published author is something Rachel said she could definitely get used to.

“I hope so, because I have a lot of ideas and I really like seeing my words on paper and my name in print,” she said. “Especially when I worked so hard and everything came together. That doesn’t always happen.”

Rachel credits her English and writing teachers for her talent, particularly third-grade teacher Joanne Anderson.

“She’s the one who got me to this point. She made me love writing even more,” Rachel said. “My other writing teachers were very good too, but (Anderson) really blew the jet pack.”

Rachel already has scored her second writing accolade, an honorable mention in the elementary division of the Dyer-Ives Kent County Poetry Competition for her poem “Learning to Shine.” Her piece will be published in “Voices 2016,” the foundation’s annual literary publication, and she has been invited to recite her work onstage during this summer’s Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts.

Rachel’s win marks the second time an East Grand Rapids student has earned accolades in the Write Michigan contest.

Student Emma Fox was a published finalist in the contest’s second year. Forest Hills students also had a strong showing this year and in previous years.


Check out a copy of the Write Michigan anthology at Kent District Library, or buy one at Schuler Books & Music in Grand Rapids

Complete list of Write Michigan 2016 winners

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.


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