Wakefield invigorates student writers through annual story competitions

Student+writers+Angie+Lee+and+Katie+Spampinato+sit+in+the+hallway+on+a+sunny+Wednesday+afternoon.+Theyre+writing+their+articles+for+the+newest+issue+on+The+Howler.

Staff Photo by Nic Cazin

Student writers Angie Lee and Katie Spampinato sit in the hallway on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. They’re writing their articles for the newest issue on The Howler.

Nic Cazin, Co-Editor-in-Chief

For the past four years, the library at Wakefield High School has held a horror short story competition for the entire school to participate in. Writing as an art is typically underrated, so this event creates a sense of community for students who enjoy writing as a creative outlet.

Harper Stumb is a junior at Wakefield who loves to write. For the past three years, he’s submitted, and won, the short story competition. His story that won in 2022, “Charon’s Scales,” had a lengthy writing process. 

“I wrote the first draft, everything I could think of, no editing, and ended up with a draft that was 3,700 words,” Stumb said. “Since I had to cut over a thousand words I had to think about the structure of the story and remove a bunch of stuff. Once I had that, I polished [over grammar and strengthened sentences].”

All of his hard work was worth it because his short story beat six other well-written stories. Joyce Deaton, the media specialist at WHS, runs the spooky short story competition in conjunction with the media center. She does this competition for one reason: to put a spotlight on hidden talent. 

I’ve found that I have stumbled across excellent writers and they’re hiding in plain sight.”

— Deaton

“I’ve found that I have stumbled across excellent writers and they’re hiding in plain sight,” Deaton said. “It’s a sneaky way to offer an opportunity to the kids that may otherwise not participate in other kinds of clubs.”

For most students, when someone mentions writing, their immediate thought is academic style writing. Persuasive essays, book reports, argumentative essays and explanation paragraphs are used throughout almost the entire high school curriculum. Academic writing is a good life skill to have, and for student writers, it may even strengthen their creative writing. Hope Zacher, a senior who writes for fun, has found that school has actually helped her writing.

“[School] gives me the motivation to actually write,” Zacher said. “I don’t know how much I would write if it weren’t for school and it definitely has helped propel my writing in terms of how good it is.” 

Luckily, WHS has a large variety of writing electives that student writers can take. There are two creative writing courses, two speech courses and a journalism course. Sarah Dudley is one teacher who instructs the creative writing course. 

If you want to be a writer and you don’t do it, then you aren’t living your one best and true life.”

— Moran

“In core English classes, I like providing informal opportunities for students to do other kinds of writing or express things just to show that writing doesn’t always have to be academic,” Dudley said. “I think showing that writing can be another tool for self-expression and for feeling like you have a voice in the world [is important].”

While writing can be a fun hobby, most people don’t even dream of pursuing it. If they do, typically there’s another career option in the back of their mind. 

“[I’d be] an author of fantasy and science fiction,” Stumb said.  “I’d have a backup in case it didn’t work out.”

If writing is something a student is passionate about, they are encouraged to take extra English courses and submit their writing to be published. Students can even take a class with Dr. Clarice Moran, an assistant professor of English education at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. 

“We could all hide in our beds with our covers pulled up to our noses, but we would miss the exquisite joy of living,” Moran said. “There is so much joy in risk and so much regret in not risking. It might not be easy, and it might cost you money, admiration or even love, but if you want to be a writer and you don’t do it, then you aren’t living your one best and true life.”