Seventeen year old Rockford High School (RHS) senior Sarah Mc Lellan made history as the first “Reader’s Choice” youth award winner in the Write Michigan contest on Friday, February 1, 2013. This statewide inaugural Write Michigan Short Story contest was sponsored by the Kent District Library (KDL), Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL) and Schuler Books & Music. Winners of the contest will be honored at the awards ceremony on March 19 at 7:00 PM at the Grand Rapids Public Library’s Main branch. She will be awarded a $250 cash prize as well as having her short story, “Chasing Cars”, published in the book Write Michigan Anthology.
Competition was steep for this year’s event. The contest was open to all Michigan residents. A total of 295 youth contestants in the 17-and-younger category submitted short stories. Over 300 entries were received in the 18-and-older category.
When asked what prompted her to enter the contest, Mc Lellan replied, “I saw the information about the contest when I went to the library and remembering the encouragement of my teachers, I submitted a piece I had written for my AP (Advanced Placement) English course. I figured that mine would get lost in the pile. And then I got a text from a friend saying that I was a top ten finalist.”
“Sarah is a gifted writer, but what is even more impressive is both her humility toward her gift, and her discipline in developing it,” expressed Dan Modderman, RHS Advanced Placement (AP) English instructor. “Sarah submitted a mature and poignant piece for this contest. I am very proud to have her as my student.”
The top 10 entries in each age category (Adult / Youth), selected by the sponsors, were eligible for the “Reader’s Choice” award and the “Judge’s Choice” award. The top 10 entries were posted online for a public vote to choose the “Readers’ Choice” winners.
The Judge’s Choice awards were given to the top 5 stories in each age category (Adult / Youth), as chosen by the celebrity judges. These winners, as well as the “Readers’ Choice” winners, will be published by Chapbook Press and will be available for sale at the ceremony and as an eBook. Saugatuck-area humorist and memoirist Wade Rouse will speak at the event and write the Foreword for the Write Michigan Anthology.
Mc Lellan is an academic honors student and plans to continue her studies in English, but is currently undecided on which college she will attend in the fall. In addition to her writing skills, she also plays clarinet in the RHS Wind Ensemble and guitar in the Bella Vista Church Youth Praise band. In her free time she enjoys swing dancing, writing and arranging music and has aspirations to own her own coffee shop.