- Sponsorship -

An explorer, a tropical island, a pineapple

Fifth-grader wins top judges’ prize in writing contest

In her short story titled “Finding Hope,” fifth grader Ashley Cole begins with a classroom scene involving a quiet girl with a vivid imagination who’s struggling to fit in.

It begins:

“Okay class, open your books to page 74,” Mrs.Vanhorp ordered. Dylan May Smith sat at the back of the 6th grade class drawing on sticky notes she kept under her desk. Her mind was not in math class but somewhere much more interesting. She was an explorer. She had found a tropical island. She was running around playing games and eating peaches and pineapple.“

Ashley, a student at Nickels Intermediate School, is the judges choice winner in the youth category for Write Michigan, a contest presented by Kent District Library and Schuler Books & Music. She won $500, which she said she plans to put in savings.

About 1,100 writers from across the state entered the contest in four categories — 269 adults, 488 teens, 244 youth and 93 Spanish writers.

Winners were chosen by public voting for the $500 readers choice award, and by a panel of judges for the $500 judges choice and $250 judges choice runner-up awards. They will be honored at an awards ceremony at Schuler’s.

Other local winners include:

  • North Rockford Middle School student Ramona Wilke, Youth — judges choice runner-up;
  • Rockford High School student Sophie Sales, Teen — published finalist;
  • Kraft Meadows Middle School student Allison Malone – Youth — published finalist;
  • Potter’s House High School student Anja Van Drunen, Teen — judge’s choice winner. 

‘Write Whatever You Want’

Ashley said her mom, Kristi Cole, told her about the contest. “I like that you can write whatever you want. I can be creative. I like choosing the characters,” she said, explaining how she wrote her main character, Dylan. to be a girl who is really good at drawing but doesn’t get good grades.

Ashley said she wants to be an author of realistic fiction when she’s older, and lists authors Dan Gutman and Louis Sachar as favorites. She is also a reporter on the Nickels student newspaper, Bulldog Growl

Ashley, 10, and other winners will sign a copy of an anthology featuring their work on March 14 at Schuler Books & Music, 2660 28th St. SE.

- Sponsorship -
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.


Longtime volunteer does whatever’s needed for school: ‘I love being here’

A 24-year parent and grandparent volunteer tends to student and family needs at Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy...

Lessons from a pandemic: ‘agile learners’ need ‘agile adults’

Reflecting on the end of fall semester and 2020, Superintendent Dedrick Martin sat down with School News Network to discuss how Caledonia adapted to school closures, virtual learning and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic...

It’s all about getting students back to classrooms, Supt. Shibler says of the vaccine

Superintendent Michael Shibler hopes the more people get vaccinated, the closer we are to the end of the pandemic...

Young constitutional scholars view current events, politics through historical lens

East Grand Rapids and East Kentwood high school We the People team members have qualified for the national competition, becoming well versed in civics and critical thinking along the way...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

It’s all about getting students back to classrooms, Supt. Shibler says of the vaccine

Superintendent Michael Shibler hopes the more people get vaccinated, the closer we are to the end of the pandemic...

The sky’s the limit (or is it?) for this accomplished model builder

Creative, innovative, imaginative … Many of today’s students are all that and more in a vast variety of interest areas. This series features students with exceptional and unusual gifts...

For MLK Day, educators discuss improving equity in education

A leading advocate on equity in education says Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy requires educators to dig deeper into making sure all students have what they need to thrive...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU