Springfield, Ohio — When Caitlyn Shiner, an eighth-grader at Ascension School in Kettering, Ohio, arrived at Wittenberg to participate in last weekend's Power of the Pen regional competition, she never imagined she would leave with a $30,000 four-year scholarship to Wittenberg, one of the nation's top-ranked liberal arts colleges.
"Strong writing and communication skills are essential in any profession, and they are core components to our academic program at Wittenberg," said Mark H. Erickson, Wittenberg president. "I am most pleased that we could recognize the region's writing talent in such an extraordinary way."
Shiner received the university's newly created Excellence in Writing Award for her superior writing performance at the competition on Wittenberg's campus, March 14. Students who rank in the top 50 percent of finishers at Power of the Pen district competitions are invited to participate in a regional tournament, which draws from a much larger geographic area. Approximately 200 young writers from 28 schools competed for top honors at the Wittenberg regional event, and 20 percent of them will advance to the State Power of the Pen Tournament.
Now in its 24th year, Power of the Pen, Ohio's award-winning educational enhancement program, has consistently inspired students in middle schools across the state to write creatively. Designed primarily for seventh- and eighth-grade student writers, "[Power of the Pen] is committed to being the leading interscholastic program in written expression," according to the program's Web site.
The program also assists teachers with resources to facilitate better student writing and provides an educational network for teachers to learn from each other as they seek to improve their students' writing skills. In addition, the Power of the Pen program provides in-class instructional materials that serve more than 120,000 students statewide, 7,500 of whom will compete directly in a Power of the Pen competition.
Based in Richfield, Ohio, Power of the Pen was founded in 1987 by a middle school language arts teacher named Lorraine B. Merrill, who was subsequently designated as a Christa McAuliffe Fellow and received an Ohio Teacher of the Year award. The program was officially incorporated in 1989, and to date 500 Ohio middle schools with courses in the language arts (English), including private, public, parochial and special schools, are enrolled in the program.
Wittenberg's hosting of the competition this past weekend marked only the second time in the university's history for hosting such an event. The last time was in 1986, when Wittenberg hosted the first-ever Power of the Pen competition for southern Ohio.
Written By: Karen Gerboth