WAG acknowledges young writers

Some of the Writers Alliance of Gainesville honorees included teachers Matt Goldstein of Buchholz High School (far left) and Hector Rosario of Lofte
Some of the Writers Alliance of Gainesville honorees included teachers Matt Goldstein of Buchholz High School (far left) and Hector Rosario of Loften High School (far right) with students, including Loften's Raevyn Johnson (second from right).
Photo by Wendy Thornton/WAG

There’s a lot of creativity in the minds of our high school students and 10 budding young writers – and their teachers – were recognized by the Writers Alliance of Gainesville (WAG) for their work in a recent competition.

Several high school writers submitted essays for a science fiction writing competition that highlighted “world building” in a competition that was part of WAG’s recent Sunshine State Book Festival.

WAG President Jenny Dearinger, who handed out the awards in a Sunday ceremony at the Millhopper Branch of the Alachua County library system, described the festival as a “celebration of learning and literacy.

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“What better way to incorporate our youth in the celebration…. We feel privileged to be able to support our young people and offer resources,” she said.

The contest, a first in 2023, is now set to be an annual event. The 10 high school winners were each awarded a $100 scholarship with funds from Steve Spurrier’s HBC Foundation. Spurrier is a legendary college football coach and now owns a restaurant in Gainesville.

Gainesville Health & Fitness awarded gym memberships to the eight teachers whose students were winners.

At Loften High School, prize-winning teacher Hector Rosario said his field is math, but because of an emergency at the school, he was tapped to take on English classes as well.

“I enjoy the process of writing and I saw this (the contest) as an opportunity for them,” he said. “I used this as our final project and I encouraged them.”

Rosario’s winning student, ninth grader Raevyn Johnson, submitted a story she titled Aradeo that centered on the adventure of a 16-year-old girl named Concordia. Her story was about a world where every 100 years someone is offered a world of their own. In Raevyn’s tale, her heroine built her own people who defeated an evil enemy.

“I always liked writing, creative writing at that, and I said this is going to be easy, but it wasn’t,” she said. “But a lot of creative stuff came to mind.”

Other winners included Jack Hagan and Jonathan Donahey, both of Buchholz High School; Minjee Kim of Eastside; Kaylee Bleecker of Gainesville High; Skylar Scott of P.K. Yonge School; Allison Moody of Forest High School in Ocala; and Justin Sierra, McKenzie Gradler,  and Melanie Moore, all of Westport High School in Ocala.

Other winning teachers included Jennifer D’Angelo of Forest High School in Ocala; Lindsey Franklin of P.K. Yonge School; Matt Goldstein, and Patrick Gallagher, both of Buchholz; Megan Jones of West Port; Sarah Reynierson of Eastside; and Tiffany Drew of Gainesville High.

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