Every winter, students from Centerville Elementary School (CES) submit short stories and poems as part of the State of Maryland International Reading Association Young Author’s Contest. Several weeks later, the writers wait with bated breath to hear the list of winners read over the loud speaker.
“I was shocked and couldn’t believe it. I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe,” said Gabi Dwoskin, a third grader at CES who won for her poem, “Gumball.”
Nine-year-old Daniella Bowie had a similar experience. “Oh my gosh! I ran up to my mom and hugged her. I was super excited,” she said. Daniella was noted for her winning poem titled “Heaven’s Masterpiece.”
Evan Foster, 10, said he had submitted a short story last year but didn’t win, which made this year even more of a thrill. “I felt extremely happy I had won,” he said.
Each student talked about their writing process. Foster wrote a draft for his winning poem, “Changing,” in 20 minutes. He said he spent time brainstorming by looking at his surroundings, formulated his thoughts, then took his work to his parents for critique. He was also inspired by his favorite author, Shel Silverstein.
“I wanted to take some of his thoughts and change them to make them my own,” said Foster, who is in fifth grade. “I wanted to start off with a warning and see what I could make from there… I try to end some of my things with a positive and happy ending.”
Daniella said she was inspired by a brightly colored sky. “We were just driving home from the store,” she said. “I was looking outside and I was wondering that must be God’s masterpiece and God’s paint brush painting the sky… It was blue, pink, yellow and orange.”
This was Daniella’s first time writing a poem. She said she was also inspired by her Grandpa, Jave Amir, who is the author of poems and academic writings. In addition, her own faith motivated her to write.
“I am Catholic and I love God and I just love going to church,” she said. “So I decided to write about Him in my poem, and all of the beauty that He made.”
Excellent writing comes from an avid appetite for reading, which is the case for Evan. He said Harry Potter and a series called Table Haven are among his favorite books. Evan’s goals include being a park ranger, but he hopes writing is also in his future.
This is Gabi’s second time to win in the Young Authors’ Contest. Last year, she won in the poetry category as well, so she planned on entering a short story instead. The piece started getting too long, so Gabi sat in her room, musing over a poem when her eye fell on her seventh birthday present — a miniature pink gumball machine.
“I like how you can write whatever is on your mind or your opinions and you can write whatever you want,” said 8-year-old Gabi, about writing poetry. “One of my strengths is that the words come easily to me.”
In the future, Gabi hopes to have a famous career on the stage — singing, acting, dancing — and off the stage, both cooking and writing.
Daniella also loves the stage and said she hopes to be Miss Maryland, following in her mother’s footsteps, or perhaps Miss America.
“I want to congratulate everybody who entered in the poetry contest and I would like to say that they are all winners,” Daniella said.
This trio is just a sampling of the 55 CES students who entered this year. These three (along with five other CES students) go on to the state competition.
“We are so proud of our students for taking risks and not letting an opportunity like this pass them by,” said Susan Verdi, literary specialist at CES, adding that the education at CES includes a rigorous writing program. “The teachers who judged the entries were amazed by the skills of these young poets!”
By Daniella Bowie
Have you ever wondered why the sky is so pink, orange, red or blue?
It might just be God’s masterpiece calling out to you.
I take a peek out my window and I see the trees blowing in the breeze.
I see a bird, flying high all the way up in the light blue sky.
I hear the drops of rain hit my windowpane.
I feel God’s love through the rainbow above.
These small miracles like a pink sky, a bird in flight,
leaves turning colors, raindrops at night, makes me have faith that our world is all right.
A smile to a stranger, a kind word to a friend,
helps me believe that the world can be a better place if we put God first in our lives
and not at the end.
By Gabi Dwoskin
Here I am,
Lying in the clear ball.
I’m pink and I’m round,
And I have loads and loads of colorful, sphere friends.
Wait! Who’s that?
Oh, a creature that’s large.
Wait, who’s that silver disc?
Goodbye, one friend.
Wait, why am I sliding?
On a twisty slide?
Will this be a delightful ride?
Where did I just fall?
Why am I sweaty and hot?
Is this delightful?
By Evan Foster
Listen child to the warnings.
An angry stranger’s scowl or
A rattlesnake’s rattle, rattling in the wind or
A wolf’s howl on a cloudy night or
A shark’s fin gliding swiftly toward you or
Maybe a lion’s roar.
Now listen to me child and
Turn them to
A mother’s hug or
A walk on a cool fall day or
A pup’s tail wagging around or
A new pet fish swimming in acrobatic circles or
A cat’s content purr.
And now look upon what you can change
And the world will be changed.