Students win in state contest


Westborough – Three Westborough students took home prizes in the annual statewide General Federation of Women's Clubs (GWFC) of Massachusetts contests, and the local club president hopes this is the beginning of more participation in the future.

Annika Olson took first place in the short story contest for grades seven to nine. Eric Ouyang won first place in the poetry contest for the same age group. Jenny Casello took third place in the young artist contest for grades six to eight. The awards were made last spring, when they were all students at Gibbons Middle School.

Olson and Ouyang won savings bonds for their eff orts, and Casello received a certifi cate. Ouyang's and Olson's entries were forwarded to the national competition.

For Westborough Woman's Club President Judith Wilchynski, the students' accomplishments are important because they indicate an increase in local participation in the annual competition in writing and art.

"I was thrilled that I had so many [applications] to take," she said. "For me to have 26 entries … it's phenomenal."

Every year Wilchynski has talked to principals and teachers about the contest, and two years ago, she put together a binder with information and applications, and she has already updated them for the 2009 competition. The local club sponsors the local entrants, she said. She even signs the applications ahead of time so that no one has to chase her down for the required signature, Wilchynski said.

She credited Gibbons Middle School teacher Anika Smith with the increase in applications. Smith ran a writers' workshop as an elective last spring, and some of the applications came from that workshop, as well as from her classes.

"It was a great opportunity to showcase some of the talent we have at Gibbons," Smith said. "Any of those creative writing contests that come through the school I love because it's a great way to showcase [the students'] work."

The students in the workshop were very collaborative and comfortable together, which seemed to help the young writers, she said.

Smith, in her sixth year of teaching, is now spending most of her writing time working on a thesis, she said. When she has time, though, she writes poetry and short stories.

Wilchynski also found that the applications from the class and workshop created a buzz in the community. Parents heard about the contest and contacted her to find out how their children could enter.

The annual GFWC contest has competitions in short stories, poetry, art and photography in each of four age groups. The work does not have to be school related, Wilchynski said, and parents and students can pick up application forms at any of the Westborough schools. The entries must be created in the 2008 calendar year, she said.

The contests are open to all students, and Wilchynski hopes that Westborough's recent success will encourage more students to enter the next contest.

The deadline for the next competition is Tuesday Jan. 20, 2009. That gives the local club time to review the entries and get them to the state committee, she said. For more information, call Judith Wilchynski at 508-870-1895.

Short URL: http://www.communityadvocate.com/?p=3445

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