Pelham celebrates week of winners

Just a few of Pelham High School's winning writers attending a recent writing conference at the University of Montevallo. (contributed)

Just a few of Pelham High School’s winning writers attending a recent writing conference at the University of Montevallo. (contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“Please reply as soon as possible. The first email that we sent bounced back,” the note from the Alabama Center for the book read. When I scrolled down to discover our semifinalists were for this prestigious contest whose state winners will be published in the Library of Congress, I nearly ran off the back of my treadmill.

Pelham High School has 14 semi-finalists in the competition!

The premise of the Letters about Literature contest is simple. Students write a letter to the author of any book they choose revealing how the author’s book has changed their vision of the world or themselves.

We begin the year with this contest encouraging students to read continually and find their books. As a junior English teacher since the 1980s, I know that students who are always reading for fun are the students who have the highest ACT scores.

This contest gets students reading—and searching for that book that can inspire an amazing letter. As a nice perk, ACT scores rise among the competitors. Ultimately, students discover that reading talented writers leads to improving their own reading and writing skills.

The last year we competed in the Letters about Literature contest produced seven semifinalists—and we have two previous state winners from PHS—now shelved and listed in the Library of Congress. With double the semi-finalists, our prospects for the finals are exciting. Students will attend the awards ceremony at the University of Alabama in April.

Earlier in the week, several PHS students were chosen for publication in the county literary magazine. Tuesday brought news that PHS has once again placed in the Alabama Writers’ Forum High School Literary Arts Awards.

Students journey to the state capital next week for the HSLAA awards ceremony. Their teachers are smiling.