Ellis Students Recognized in WPCTE Flash Fiction Contest
Three Ellis third graders were recognized for their literary talents in the Western Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of English (WPCTE) Flash Fiction Writing Contest. Shay J., Ryan M., and Scarlett R. each received honorable mentions for their submissions, titled “Pete!,” “Zombie Princess,” and “The Man with the Mask and the Blood Red Hand,” respectively.
The WPCTE is an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English and is a professional organization that provides shared learning experiences for teachers and engaging literature and writing events for students. Its Flash Fiction Writing Contest was open to students in grades 1–12, who submitted fictional writing of 500 words or less to be reviewed by a panel of judges.
The contest was introduced to Ellis third graders earlier this fall as a writing project, with the option for students to submit their work to the contest if they so desired. Developing strong writing skills is a critical part of the third grade curriculum, and students embarked on a narrative writing unit to kick off the year, learning how to grab readers’ attention through dialogue, sound effects, and precise word choice. Ellis Lower School Teacher Holly Mawn says that the Flash Fiction contest was an excellent opportunity for students to put what they’d learned into practice.
"We know that having an authentic audience for writing can really be a motivator for students,” shares Ms. Mawn. "This year’s third graders in particular really enjoy sharing their writing with their classmates, so we thought they would appreciate the opportunity to share their writing with a wider audience. Even the girls who didn't end up entering the contest were excited by the thought of having others outside of Ellis read their work!”
The WPCTE will hold a virtual awards ceremony for the Flash Fiction Contest via Zoom on Tuesday, January 11, 2022. With the contest being open to such a wide range of grade levels, Ms. Mawn is hopeful that more Ellis students will participate in the contest in the future, especially given the positive experience it provided for this year’s third graders.
"We hope this experience will empower students to realize their own potential as writers and start to see that their voices and stories matter and can be shared outside of the Ellis classrooms,” she says. "Part of being a changemaker is using your voice, and we hope that they are starting to see real-life applications of that.”