Sentinel Progress

SC High School Writing Contest winners announced

COLUMBIA — The University of South Carolina Honors College and University of South Carolina Press have announced the winners of the fourth annual South Carolina High School Writing Contest and several area students are among the winners.

Grand Judges Pam Durban and Nikky Finney judged the writings of the semi-finalists, 71 juniors and seniors, each of whom submitted two pieces of writing.

In the first writing sample, students used a variety of genres to answer the question “How should we improve the state of South Carolina?” For the second stage of the contest, students traveled to the USC campus in Columbia and wrote an impromptu piece about an inspiring book or about where they come from in terms of people, place, and attitudes.

The winners are:


First Place, Recipient of the Walter Edgar Award: Savannah St. Peter of Wellford, James F. Byrnes High School in Duncan

Second Place: Kimberly Frisch of Myrtle Beach, The Scholars Academy in Conway

Third Place: Sydny Long of Fort Mill, Nation Ford High School in Fort Mill

Honorable Mention: Cynthia Gonzales of Lyman, James F. Byrnes High School in Duncan

Honorable Mention: Madeline Hahn of Columbia, Ridge View High School

Honorable Mention: Madison Motes of Piedmont, Wren High School in Piedmont

Honorable Mention: Shionnah Wallace of McClellanville, Charleston County School of the Arts


First Place, Recipient of the Dorothy S. Williams Award: Roann Abdeladl of Taylors, Greenville Technical Charter High School

Second Place: Chloë Hylkema of Seneca, D.W. Daniel High School in Central

Third Place: Angelica Rogers of Lyman, James F. Byrnes High School in Duncan

Honorable Mention: Stephen Brooke of Mount Pleasant, Wando High School in Mount Pleasant

Honorable Mention: Taylor Kahn-Perry, Charleston County School of the Arts

Honorable Mention: Destiny Jackson of Cross, Berkeley County Middle College High School in Moncks Corner

Honorable Mention: Airielle Lowe of Myrtle Beach, Socastee High School

Honorable Mention: William Queen of Gaffney, Gaffney High School

Honorable Mention: Adeline Rosenberger of Duncan, James F. Byrnes High School in Duncan

Honorable Mention: Courtney Wickstrom of Charleston, Charleston County School of the Arts

“These are good kids with such big minds,” Finney noted after judging the entries. “I wish they ruled the State House and the Governor’s Mansion and every other high office in the land.”

A Conway native whose Head Off & Split won the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry, Finney teaches at the University of South Carolina.

“The more I read the clearer it became to me that what I was looking and listening for was an authentic voice, a sense of a person on the page,” reflected Durban, an Aiken native and acclaimed novelist and short story writer. “Those were the writers who rose to the top, like cream.”

Durban and Finney follow three distinguished South Carolina writers as the contest’s grand judges: the late Pat Conroy, an internationally known novelist; Marjory Wentworth, South Carolina Poet Laureate; and Mary Alice Monroe, a New York Timesbestselling novelist.

The work of the finalists — which includes poetry, fiction, drama and essays — will be published by the University of South Carolina Press under its Young Palmetto Books imprint. Writing South Carolina: Selections from the Fourth High School Writing Contest will be available for sale and online. The Pat Conroy Literary Center in Beaufort and the South Carolina State Library in Columbia are presenting partners of the contest.

“These students are to be commended not only for their courage in tackling such a challenging subject, but for doing so in such innovative and diverse ways,” said Steven Lynn, dean of the South Carolina Honors College and founder of the contest. “Our students are concerned about racism, education, domestic violence, arts funding, child abuse, the environment, infrastructure, economic stability, and much more. That they could express their thoughts so effectively in poetry, fiction, and essays says a lot about their maturity, intelligence, creativity, and the teaching they are receiving.”

Winners and finalists will receive cash awards. First-place winners receive $1,000; second-place winners receive $500; third-place winners receive $250. The first-place winner in the senior class receives the Walter Edgar Award, funded by South Carolina Honors College alumnus Thad Westbrook and named for the well-known USC professor and South Carolina historian. The second-place winner receives the Dorothy S. Williams Award, which is funded by an anonymous donor and named for the late public school educator in Anderson County.

“Judging creative work is difficult and subjective,” said Aïda Rogers, who manages the contest for the SCHC and USC Press, and will edit the fourth volume. “To be published at such a young age is a tremendous honor. We congratulate them all.”

The finalists whose writings also will be published are:


Morgan Mayne-Alexander, Beaufort High School

Alexandra Batista, Beaufort High School

Sam Beckley, James F. Byrnes High School

Charles Carter, James F. Byrnes High School

Shannon Dunn, Wren High School

Jessica Elkins, Beaufort High School

Steven Greer, James F. Byrnes High School

Caleb Hylkema, Daniel High School

Madison Jones, Travelers Rest High School

Grace Justice, Ridge View High School

Alaina Kiffer, Crescent High School

Sandra Lopez, Woodruff High School

Maggie Mahoney, Lexington High School

Mainaiya Myers, Ridge View High School

Conrad Pentaleri, Christ Church Episcopal School

Codie Powell, James F. Byrnes High School

Camryn Quick, Hartsville High School

Aydian Rainey, James F. Byrnes High School

Jesni Sam, Ridge View High School

Chyna Wallace, Dutch Fork High School

Tory Wiley, Woodruff High School


Bailey Abedon, Charleston County School of the Arts

Noah Barnes, James F. Byrnes High School

Sophie Bellomy, Beaufort High School

AJ Blanton, Gaffney High School

Reece Brown, James F. Byrnes High School

LaVang Bui, James F. Byrnes High School

Hunter Burgess, Gaffney High School

Vinita Cheepurupalli, Spring Valley High School

Erika Clark, Walhalla High School

Emilee Cox, West Florence High School

Molly Cribb, Spartanburg High School

Mary Kathryn Davidson, Home School, Elgin

Morgan Davis, Wren High School

Macy Gault, Gaffney High School

Carleigh Gregory, Gaffney High School

Selah Hamby, James F. Byrnes High School

Malachi Jones, Charleston County School of the Arts

Mia Jones, The Scholars Academy, Conway

Jason Mahaffey, James F. Byrnes High School

Mackenzie Marcum, James F. Byrnes High School

Naomi Matthusen, Dreher High School

Michelle Mayer, Wren High School

Haven Miller, Home School, Heath Springs

Janneke Morin, Socastee High School

Landon Phipps, James F. Byrnes High School

Karlee Price, Gaffney High School

Natoria Smalls, Beaufort High School

Jasmine Smith, Port-Gaud School

Sarah Suber, Beaufort High School

Amanda Taylor, Battery Creek High School

Molly Transou, Gaffney High School

Destiny Turner, Gaffney High School

Staff Report