I had a terrific nostalgia attack today. A district-level Power of the Pen tournament was held at Mount Union, and I had the opportunity to help judge seventh grade’s best of rounds.
Power of the Pen is an Ohio thing. Open only to seventh and eighth graders, it extends an exciting challenge to budding writers. At each level of the competition, six writers per grade level are given three prompts. For each prompt, they only have 40 minutes to create a story. At the end of the day, prizes are awarded to both individuals and teams based on their performance, which is measured in quality points (taken out of 100).
When I was in seventh grade, I placed second at districts and received best of round two. I actually ended up making it to state that year. That was the first step toward confidence; I’ve been writing since I was 5, but that was the first time that I’d put my writing out there.
Working at it from a judging standpoint really gave me a more thorough respect for what this competition seeks to do. While Power of the Pen has definitely always had that clichéd special place in my heart, I always just saw it as my own triumph.
There was a girl today to whom we awarded best of round three. She got to hear an excerpt of her story read allowed and that she’d answered the prompt better than 94 other seventh graders. When we finally said her name, she came trembling up to the low stage. Her glasses had tilted on her face, and it looked like her sweatshirt was attempting to devour her. My best friend, Kristin, handed her the journal and ribbon. I shook her hand. Her hand was so small.
But it had held a pen and written about working hard and running for a mother who had died and a father who’d only wanted a son.
Today, as I got ready to head over to the caf to meet Dr. Schwartz, I slipped on my Anderson Coach and Travel polo and focused on how cool it was to bridge my present adventures with what was my greatest adventure as a 12-year-old. Meanwhile, this girl was on her way to the first leg of her Power of the Pen journey. She was preparing to write.