Most school team members look forward to competition, but practices can be less than enjoyable.
That's not the case for the Timberstone Junior High School students who compete as members of the Power of the Pen teams that are headed to the regional tournament at Findlay High School next month.
Team members will be there as a result of their strong finish in the district tournament at St. Joseph School in Sylvania.
Julia Manolukas, a member of the seventh-grade team, said, "I've loved writing for a long time" and that the after-school practice sessions are something she looks forward to.
As part of their training team, members are given an envelope with a "prompt," usually just a word, and they are to use that work to write whatever they want in 40 minutes.
At the next training session, the youngsters critique one another's work.
Sheryl Fitzpatrick, a teacher at the school and a coach of the seventh-grade team, said the prompt could be the word "blue" and the young writers could chose to write something about the mood, the color itself, or anything blue.
The goal is to write creatively and well.
She said judges in the competitions don't consider spelling, grammar, or punctuation, but the overall use of imagination and quality of the theme.
The writing is sometimes from the perspective of others, and sometimes the themes are humorous and sometimes sad. It doesn't matter as long as it is done well, she said.
The competition consists of three 40-minute rounds of writing based on a "prompt."
Courtney Tipton, a member of the team at McCord Junior High School last year, joined the Timberstone team after she transferred schools when her family moved.
"It's really a lot of fun," she said about the program, and noted that her coach, teacher Linda Hufford, gave them their prompt in the wrapping or a piece of candy she handed out during the practice session prior to Valentine's Day.
Although the competition can be gratifying, she noted that much of the fun of the program is in the training and the discussions among students.
All six writers from each Timberstone team will advance to the regional competition, the best overall team performance from the district tournament.
The district competition had 23 schools participating with a total of 221 contestants.
The top 15 finishers among eighth-grade students were:
James Leow, Gateway Middle School;
Emily Schoenlein, Perrysburg Junior High School;
Sia Dufour, Arbor Hills Junior High;
Grace McIlwain, St. Joseph, Maumee;
Maryellen Mouch, St. Joseph, Sylvania;
Rachel Kalinoski, St. Pius X;
Sarah Bremer, Christ the King;
Lena Carlson, St. Rose, Perrysburg;
Kristen Fairchild, Timberstone;
Kelly Brendan, St. Joseph, Sylvania;
Hope Sandwisch, West Side Montessori;
Nick Horne, St. Catherine;
Sarah Squillante, McCord Junior High School;
Brad Wallace, St. Catherine;
Alice Ou, Timberstone.
The top 15 in the seventh grade were:
Katie Malczewski, St. Joseph, Sylvania;
Sam Ivan, Toledo Christian;
Olivia Bullock, Timberstone;
Morgan Holliger, Perrysburg Junior High;
Brianne Thomas, Anthony Wayne Junior High School;
Maggie Fixler, Maumee Valley Country Day School;
Alison Yang, Timberstone;
Molly Veh, Ottawa Hills Junior High School;
Julia Manolukas, Timberstone;
Marnie Hall, Ottawa Hills;
Tabor Wordelman, Toledo Christian;
Bernie Ianonne, St. Pius X;
Daniel Ackerman, Toledo Christian;
Amanda Metcalf, St. Joseph, Sylvania;
Lee Ann Song, Timberstone.