Student Essay Winners Announced in Wilmington, Ohio: First Place Winner

essaywinnersCandlelight’s favorite children’s author, Artie Knapp, working with the Wilmington News Journal, sponsored a fourth grade student essay writing contest and the winners have been announced!  The students were asked to write about Clinton County, Ohio where they live.  Their essays were judged by education majors at Wilmington College.

This is one of those encouraging activities that can really make a kid feel like they’re at the top of their game.  It makes them want to keep writing and reading and learning.  Artie tells me that Clinton County has been absolutely devastated by high unemployment since DHL moved out. Rachel Ray and Jay Leno have recently done free shows there to help feed some of the people who are hurting. I think these three kids who can write so well are really helping everybody in their county to feel good this holiday season.

Excellent job, kids! Keep up the fantastic work and keep writing!

I am going to post the three winning essays over the next few days.  Here is the first place winner by Jared Penick, a student at Roy E. Holmes Elementary School in Wilmington.

What I like best about Clinton County

Penick, JaredI moved to Clinton County Sept. 18, 2005. My mom’s job moved from Kentucky. I really liked my new school, Holmes Elementary. When I began kindergarten at 5 years old, I loved how I wrote letters to my mom and dad.

I like the Clinton County YMCA because I learned how to swim at Summer Day Camp. I took fun field trips to Kings Island.

I love Clinton County’s library because they have interesting books, movies and music tapes. The hill across the street is the best place to go sleigh riding because you can make ice ramps and ramp off them. At the end of the hill boys and girls make snowmen. Children enjoy playing inside the tree that is there.

Tractor Supply is so awesome. I wish I could have everything in the store. I like how Tractor Supply has baby chicks to pet and sell. I like how they sell farm supplies like fence, feed, wires, hats, shoes, gloves, buckets, halters, lead ropes, whips, bridles, toys, go carts, four wheelers, lawn mowers, dirt bikes and wormer for animals.

I like Clinton County’s beautiful farms. I like the big crops of soy beans, corn and alfalfa hay fields. Their animals are called pigs, cows, dogs, goats, sheep, horses and chickens.

I like Clinton County’s sports like football, baseball, basketball, bowling, soccer ball, put put golf, volleyball, track, tennis and lacrosse.

The rock that is in front of the Wilmington College is huge and fun to watch. It also gets painted once a month. When they paint it, the rock looks like it gets thicker. Sometimes people make good designs and words like go Hurricanes and this is the best college ever. Also the rock sits up on a hill for everyone who drives by.

Denver park is one of the best places to run and play. I like to play on the equipment like slide, swing, monkey bars and the tires stacked on top of each other. I like the pond because kids can fish without a license.

At the Murphy Theatre is a very cool building with the stage of talent where people sing, dance and act. It gives Clinton County residents a chance to be a star for the night. In the third grade my class went to the theater to watch a movie called Hotel for Dogs. The seats are comfy and sized just right. I had a fun time with my class mates watching that great movie.

There is a really cool horse arena called Roberts Arena. One of my favorite things to do is horse pull competitions. Some of the horses are black, bay, sorrel, brown, white and redwhite. Some of them are big and strong muscles to help them pull. They have light weight and heavy weight competitions. Horses pull over 9000 pounds to win. Horses also sometimes strain themselves so they can pull. Horses wear harness to work them and control the horses.

These are the things I like best about Clinton County.

Mystery Contest for Halloween 2009

If you want to enter the mystery contest, just finish the mystery we’ve started below by entering your part of the story into a comment. We do not need any personal information about you. You can just enter your name or your online nickname. We don’t need an email address or anything else. The contest is open to all writers of any age and skill level.  Have fun and take the story in any direction you like. There’s no real prize other than getting some attention for your writing on this site.

We’ll post the winner in our blog sometime right near Halloween.

Good luck.

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Mystery Contest Winner

The winner of our April 2009 Mystery Contest is Pippa, age 10!

Congratulations to the winner!  Pippa has written an imaginative and interesting continuation of the story that is a pleasant surprise.

Riley’s Crypt

The trees of the forest bent over sideways in the howling wind. The white disk of the full moon shimmered behind the swaying branches. Southbay Forest was being battered by the storm. Rain began to pelt the ground. It was an altogether nasty evening.

Riley Hitchens made his way along the muddy path with dread. The lantern’s feeble light swung wildly back and forth across the narrow way as his fingers gripped its handle tightly.

It was just an old crypt. That’s all. Nothing but a pile of old stones with a rusty iron door. That door was clanging in the wind now. It had disturbed Riley’s sleep.

So now poor Riley staggered in his soaking nightclothes toward the crypt that was creating such a din.

A wolf howled.

Riley stopped in his soggy tracks and glanced behind him. A shape flashed between the trees. He lurched forward and bolted down the mud path toward the old stone crypt.

He burst through the half-open door and sucked the dank air into his lungs. His mud-caked slippers echoed in the stone chamber. The rain pounded the forest outside. Just ahead, Riley could make out the dim shape of the tunnel entrance.

He stopped and felt the cold sweat of terror at the back of his neck.

From far down the dark winding way of the tunnel, underneath the raging of the storm, came the delicate sound of… music.

The winner’s story continues from this point…

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George Orwell’s Quest for Truthful Language

New Statesman has a very interesting article by Keith Gessen about George Orwell’s ‘plain spoken’ style that manifested itself in a series of essays in the 1940s and found its full expression in his masterwork, Nineteen Eighty-Four. It’s fascinating to read about how Orwell’s experiences with fighting in Spain during the civil war in the 1930s and journalistic coverage of the events of that war influenced his use of altered and entirely untrustworthy newspaper articles in Nineteen Eighty-Four.  Orwell apparently believed in clear, sharp and truthful language.  He did not want ready phrases or dead metaphors.  He wanted keen observation and simple expression.

I think he achieved this in Nineteen Eighty-Four to a great degree.  Mr. Gessen says one thing in his article that I don’t necessarily agree with: “In truth, Orwell was wrong about all sorts of things, not least the inner logic of totalitarianism: he thought a mature totalitarian system would so deform its citizenry that they would not be able to overthrow it. This was the nightmare vision of Nineteen Eighty-Four. In fact, as it turned out in Russia, even the ruling elite was not willing to maintain mature totalitarianism after Stalin’s death.”

I don’t think that’s quite right.  The totalitarian regime in Nineteen Eighty-Four is overthrown.  In the last section of the book the writing jumps out into the future and discusses a quite obviously defunct and long-gone totalitarian state that tried to reduce language to its own ends.  I think the point of Nineteen Eighty-Four is that complete control of a population can be largely achieved with various mind-control techniques and the constant application of fear, but that it requires only a modest intelligence to resist and eventually overthrow such control.  The novel’s protagonist, Winston Smith, is just an ordinary schlump.  He’s not very bright.  Pretty dim in fact.  The idea with Winston Smith is if he can do it then anyone can.  And yet he is capable of resisting until his will is ultimately beaten out of him.  But the point is that the will to resist is a real pest.  You can’t remove it from society.  It always comes up and eventually overpowers all control structures.

Purchase Nineteen Eighty-Four

Does the Strunk & White Book Suck?

25style480These folks are all in an uproar about The Elements of Style by Strunk and White which has been a mainstay for writers and students for many decades in many colleges and writers’ studios and lawyers’ offices and high schools and elementary schools where lots of people have made their first adventuresome forays into writing and take me for example who can never remember the definition of an adverb and can never understand a past participle or what the heck a conjunctive phrase is so you see I actually need a book like The Elements of Style very badly and cannot really understand why anyone would have such hard feelings about such a small book I mean after all it does contain some pretty useful little references about the english language that can be quite helpful when you are in a grammar jam and the authors of the little tome were perfectly willing to admit that sometimes rules can be broken or stretched or ignored altogether and even rejected out of hand I guess.