Because of inclement weather, the Mississippi Regional Scholastic Writing Awards ceremony was held in the Leggett Center of the Campbell College Center at Millsaps College on Sunday, April 19, instead of the Welty House and Garden. A large crowd was on hand to see students receive awards and hear keynote speaker Katy Simpson Smith, award-winning author of The Story of Land and Sea.
Four students were selected to read from their winning works. They were Conor Hultman, senior at the Mississippi School for Math and Science, who read his flash fiction piece entitled “Watercolor of a Woman Through a Window”; Jessica Garner, senior at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, who read the poems “Rain Dance” and Starstuff”; Aubree Riggle, senior at the Mississippi School of the Arts, who read her personal essay, “Packed Snow”; and Virginia Smith, seventh grader at Margaret Green Junior High School, who read her poem “In My Treehouse.”
Hultman, Garner, and Riggle were also recognized as national award-winners. Riggle received an American Voices Medal; Garner, a Gold Medal in poetry; and Hultman, a Silver Medal for writing portfolio.
From a record number of entries, 184 literary works were chosen for awards. Student winners from throughout the state, including several who received multiple awards, represent 25 middle and high schools as well as home school. Five students were selected as American Voices Nominees. Their work was eligible for the highest national awards. In addition to Riggle, they are Haley Gill, Madison Middle School, flash fiction; Jessica Garner, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, poetry; Maeve Rigney, Rosa Scott High School, short story; and Callie Summerlin, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, poetry.
Seven were chosen Senior Portfolio winners. They each submitted works in several genres. In addition to Hultman, Jessica Garner, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, is a Gold Key winner. Silver Key recipients include Quinn Massengill, Mississippi School for Math and Science; Nicholette Provias, Mississippi School of the Arts; and Cassie Summerlin, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. Honorable Mention Portfolio winners are Elizabeth Burford, Jackson Academy, and Nikki Gary, Mississippi School for Math and Science.
Thirty-two Gold Key, 65 Silver Key, and 77 Honorable Mention awards were presented. In addition to the schools mentioned above, winning awards were young writers from Jackson Preparatory School, Margaret Green Junior High School, New Hope High School, Northwest Rankin High School, Ocean Springs High School, St. Aloysius High School, Sumner Hill Junior High School, Clinton High School, Corinth High School, Sacred Heart School, Shaw High School, Terry High School, Bailey Magnet School, Clinton Christian Academy, the Education Center School, Madison Central High School, Petal High School, and home school.
Gold and Silver Key winners have been invited to participate in the McMullan Young Writers Workshop to be held in July at Millsaps College.
A list of the winners may be downloaded here.
A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Katy Simpson Smith attended Mount Holyoke College and received a Ph. D. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. Her novel was named among the Best Books of 2014 by Vogue and Huffington Post. For more about Smith and her widely honored novel visit katysimpsonsmith.com.
The Mississippi regional program is administered by the Eudora Welty House and Garden and sponsored by the Eudora Welty Foundation with a generous grant from the C Spire Foundation. The Scholastic Writing Awards are presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.
Refreshments were served before the event, and tours of the Welty House and Garden were held following the ceremony.