The Write Rhode Island story contest has been around for three years. Only one student in the state has won a prize in each of those years.
Andrew Ackroyd, a 17-year-old junior at Chariho High School, started writing in the summer before he entered high school. A fan of Stephen King, Ackroyd said he began with one story idea but sometimes mimicked his favorite horror writers. At Chariho he joined an after-school writing club called Inkstigation.
“I think I’ve evolved and developed into my own voice,” he said, after several years of writing. “Ever since I’ve joined the club, I’ve grown so much. It’s developed my vocabulary more. I now write almost every day.”
Ackroyd calls his writing style “realistic fiction with horror elements.” His winning story, “Going Under,” is an exploration of where desperation can lead a person. Taking place in the early 20th century, the wife of a fisherman lost at sea ends up following a path that she wouldn’t have normally taken.
“I think I taught myself to go beyond my own boundaries,” he said of writing. “I developed a braver version of myself.”
“I’m so proud. He’s a natural. He will be one of the top writers in my career,” said Rebecca Burns, who oversees Chairho’s writing club.
You can read Ackroyd’s story in a printed anthology that Write Rhode Island will publish later this year. Winners will also be at the PVD Fringe on July 27, 2019, to read their stories as part of the Family Fringe event at the Wilbury Theater in Providence.
2019 Write Rhode Island Winners
- Going Under, Andrew Ackroyd, Chariho High School
- Hope, Julie Vieira, Ponaganset High School
- Flying by Myself, Maya Joncas, St. Mary’s Academy-Bay View
- A New Chapter, Sierra Silversmith, Curtis Corner Middle School
2019 Write Rhode Island Notable Mentions
- Apparitions by the Shore, Abby Trainor, Smithfield High School
- The Unintentional Resurrection of Mercy Brown, Hallie Brown, Smithfield High School
- Fantasy Land, Corwin Almo, Classical High School
- Providence Palace, Caroline Sechio, West Warwick High School
- A Mirrored Memory, Violet Johnson, Barrington High School
- How We Met, Kayla Duvel. Barrington High School
- Sustainability, Catherine Sawoski, Wheeler School (Little Compton)
- Ouroboros, Abigail Paull, Wheeler School (Providence)
- The Moonlighter, Kristel Calamba, Jacqueline M. Walsh School for Performing and Visual Arts (Pawtucket)
- Horse and Girl, Delia Tanzi Buchbaum, Quest Montessori
- The Gift of Gold, Isabel Blair, Quest Montessori
- Hope, Nicolette Kirwan, Archie R. Cole Middle School (East Greenwich)
- Changing Encounters, Isabel Swain, The Pennfield School
- An X-Shaped Scar, Lucy Colby, Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School (Coventry)
- Finding Family, Delaney Gouveia, The Pennfield School
- Zombies, Robots, and Stuff, Toshiro Brooks, Home Schooled (Pawtucket)
Encouraging students to write outside the classroom
Write Rhode Island is the state’s only short fiction writing competition for students in grades 7-12. It is presented by School One in Providence and Goat Hill. This year’s contest garnered 150 story submissions from all over the Ocean State.
The goal of the initiative is to promote and celebrate the works of students by incorporating Rhode Island as a theme in a creative piece of prose. This past fall, the group sponsored free creative writing workshops for teens at public libraries and schools across the state.
“We love being part of helping teens find their voices and stretch themselves as writers,” said School One Head of School Jennifer Borman. “Write Rhode Island opens up that opportunity for all kinds of teens from all kinds of schools. Their story submissions have been lively, strange, sad, subtle, funny, and often very moving. We’ve seen young writers really rise to the occasion.”
Teachers and librarians have played a major role in the success of Write Rhode Island, helping to spread the word and encourage participation. Write RI relies on volunteers and sponsors to be successful
Diana DeCesaris Champa, Director of Literary Engagement at School One, is also the competition’s coordinator. “It’s very exciting to provide an audience and a way to connect students with writing outside the classroom,” she said. “The opportunity to be published can be inspiring, and it gives students another reason to work at rewriting, editing, and polishing their work.”
About Goat Hill
Goat Hill, a collaboration between RI authors Ann Hood, Hester Kaplan, and Taylor Polites, offers literary events, workshops, and seminars to cultivate a writing community in Southern New England.
Each year Goat Hill selects the winning entries that are published in the Write Rhode Island anthology. The winners will also be honored at an awards ceremony at the Newport Art Museum on April 7, 2019.
This year, Goat Hill invited singer-songwriter-author Bill Harley, master storyteller Len Cabral and Young Adult author Katie Cotugno to help select the top middle school stories.
“We are impressed every year by the passion and imagination the young writers of our state bring to the stories they tell, and we are thrilled to honor their work and creative spirit through Write Rhode Island,” said Goat Hill in a press release. “But we don’t do it alone–over forty volunteer readers helped us judge the stories along with the three great new judges for the 7th-9th grade stories, making the entire program an act of statewide writing community.”
Write Rhode Island sponsors
Write Rhode Island has been made possible thanks to support from BankRI, Pawtucket Credit Union, Rhode Island Department of Education, Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, City of Providence, What Cheer Writers Club, and teachers, librarians, and educators from around the state.