Power of the written word • Writing helps students express their emotions, process their lives.
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Kearns • Good writing can come from just about anywhere, as long as students put their mind to it.
For example, Kearns Junior High eighth-grade student Pacian Garrett turned a normal writing assignment about Martin Luther King in his English class into an award-winning essay.
Pacian was one of six contest winners in the state out of 645 entrants in the contest. Winners were announced by the State Office of Education at a luncheon at the Canyons School District Support Center in Sandy in January.
"I enjoy writing, especially about a man that has done such good work in the world," Pacian said. "I like being able to put my own thoughts onto paper about issues that I still see going on today."
Aside from gaining confidence in his writing, Pacian received a cash prize from the Utah State Office of Education, a gift card from Smith's and a Martin Luther King pin provided by Davis School District.
Susie Meyers, an English teacher at Kearns Junior,was responsible for turning in essays for the state contest and has now had winners out of her class for two consecutive years. She also is seeing her students enjoy writing and being able to express themselves on paper.
"What it has done for the school is amazing because the students are now starting to understand that intelligence is important," Myers said. "The students have learned that most famous writers have had hardships in their lives and that those hardships can sometimes be inspiring if they can put their thoughts on paper."
Myers has seen a change in her students when they are able to write about their world.
"The students are learning that writing is a constructive way to express their problems and struggles," Myers said. "When they write, they are able to reflect on what is going on in their lives."
Principal Kandie Barber touted writing as a way to improve reading scores and also a way to build up confidence among the student body along with the confidence of Pacian.
"He is normally a quiet kid, but after winning this contest, Pacian now smiles a lot more when I see him in the hall and walks more with his head up," Barber said.
Principal Barber also was pleased with the efforts of Myers and other teachers who get their kids into contests, like the one that Pacian won.
"It takes a little more work from the teachers, but when the kids participate in these contests, then it builds their confidence and makes learning fun and exciting," Barber said.
Writing and winning have made Pacian want to continue to put his thoughts down on paper.
"It was amazing to win and it has inspired me to write more," Pacian said. "It has helped me to realize that I could do great things in the world."