CMSD NEWS BUREAU
A record-breaking number of student authors stepped up this year to put their own creative spin on Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" as part of a writing competition through Great Lakes Theater.
The annual contest, now in its 28th year, received a record 2,400 submissions from 29 CMSD schools. Great Lakes Theater Education Outreach Associate David Hansen said he was blown away by the entries.
“Choosing winners was particularly challenging this year, as there were so many very well-written, creative and personal stories, essays and poems,” Hansen said.
Some students showed off their creative writing chops by putting a modern twist on the story or adding a love story to the plot. Contest winner and Franklin D. Roosevelt sixth-grader Roosevelt Wallace brought some rhythm to the 172-year-old story by writing a rap that begins, "Ebenezer Scrooge was a wealthy old man; he ignored the poor with a wave of his hand."
Douglas MacArthur Girls' Leadership Academy sixth-grader Mya Belton's winning entry tells of Scrooge's inner struggles through a stream of tweets using the Twitter handle @ebenezer_scrooge1843.
This year's other winners are:
- Nina Abercrombie, Whitney M. Young Leadership Academy, eighth grade
- Deaarron King, Kenneth W. Clement Boys’ Leadership Academy, eighth grade
- Dean Iannaggi, Riverside, seventh grade
- Kendall Skillern, Warner Girls’ Leadership Academy, seventh grade
Great Lakes Theater honored the winners on Nov. 22 and Nov. 29 after a full-house matinee of the company's own production of "A Christmas Carol" at the Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square. The students were brought on stage to meet cast members and receive specially designed award T-shirts.
The theater will host a reception Saturday at Kennedy's Theatre in Playhouse Square. The students, their parents or guardians and their English teachers are invited to the event, which will be attended by members of Great Lakes Theater’s Shakespeare Society. Each student receive a plaque with their name on it, a hard bound copy of Dickens's classic, a $50 gift card to Target and a personal letter from CMSD CEO Eric Gordon. After the reception, the winners and their guests will receive free admission to Great Lakes Theater's production of "A Christmas Carol."
The contest was launched in 1989 and is open to all CMSD students in the sixth through eighth grades. Each school is allowed to submit one winner per grade level, and those essays are judged by a panel of local educators, artists and community members. From those entries, six grand-prize winners are chosen, two per grade level.
The contest is enough to bring a local radio legend out of retirement. Dee Perry, former host of “The Sound of Applause” on WCPN 90.3-FM, retired this year but will continue the tradition of interviewing the writing contest winners. The interviews, along with recordings of Great Lakes Theater members reading excerpts from the winning entries, will be broadcast on Christmas at 4 p.m. on WCPN 90.3-FM and at wcpn.org. Segments of the interviews will also be broadcast at various times in mid-December.
You can listen to last year's broadcast here or read last year's winning entries here.
Check out the photos below (courtesy of Great Lakes Theater) from the Nov. 22 and Nov. 29 matinee performances.