Return to Headlines

Two School District Five students named finalists in SC high school writing contest

For Immediate Release – March 14, 2019



Two School District Five students named finalists in SC high school writing contest


IRMO – Two Lexington-Richland School District Five students have been named finalists in the sixth annual South Carolina High School Writing Contest.


Lauren Chen, a junior from Dutch Fork High School, and Emma Miller, a junior from Spring Hill High School, were among a list of 27 high school juniors and seniors from across the state.


The contest is open to South Carolina juniors and seniors in public, private and home schools. Each student submitted two pieces of writing. In the first round – as in previous years – students used a variety of genres to answer the question “How should we improve the state of South Carolina?” For the second round, students traveled to the University of South Carolina campus in Columbia for an impromptu timed writing test.          


Chen said, “I have a lot of interests, and writing is something new to me.  Writing is a nice way to express yourself as well as a way to convey a theme about anything you are feeling at the moment.” In her writing entry, she discussed affordable healthcare and healthcare access in rural areas of South Carolina.


Miller entered the contest after learning about it from a friend and was excited about the possibility of her work being published.


Miller said, “I wrote about my experience volunteering at a camp in Norway, South Carolina. A town nestled within our state's "Corridor of Shame": a collection of several counties in poverty. I wrote about how the younger generations, if given better opportunities, can rise to newer and better heights when no longer cast aside. They can break through the circling patterns of poverty.”


“Young people have insightful, interesting, often brilliant things to say,” said Aïda Rogers, director of the contest, who also edited the anthology “State of the Heart: South Carolina Writers and the Places They Love.” “These students are our future leaders, and it’s important to understand their viewpoints. They may have solutions — or the seeds to solutions — to the problems we are facing now and in the future.”


This year’s grand judge is Walter Edgar, distinguished professor emeritus at the University of South Carolina and author of many landmark books, including “South Carolina: A History.” Edgar is also the host of "Walter Edgar’s Journal," a popular program on South Carolina Public Radio.


“In the first year of this contest, Pat Conroy, our grand judge, made the startling observation that he thought all the student finalists were better writers than he was at their age,” said Steven Lynn, dean of South Carolina Honors College (SCHC) and contest founder.     


The first-place winner will receive the Walter Edgar Award ($1,000), funded by SCHC alumnus Thad Westbrook. The second-place winner will receive the Dorothy Williams Award ($500), funded by an anonymous donor and named for the late upstate public school educator. The third-place winner will receive the Hortense Skelton award ($250), also funded by an anonymous donor. Finalists will be included in an anthology, “Writing South Carolina: Selections of the Sixth Annual High School Writing Contest,” published by the South Carolina Honors College.


The Honors College partners with the Pat Conroy Literary Center, the South Carolina State Library and the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Sciences to present the contest.