Tomorrow I will drive to Green Bay
to be present at the awards ceremony honoring Wisconsin's "Letters About Literature" winners, three students in each of three levels from among the 905 Wisconsin students in Grades 4 to 12 who participated in this year's program. "Letters About Literature" encourages young people to read and be inspired by literature and to write to the author who has somehow changed their view of the world or themselves. In Wisconsin, the program is sponsored by the Wisconsin Center for the Book; nationally it is supported by Target Stores and Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.
The writers of the nine winning contributions will receive their awards at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin. The first place winners each get a $100 cash award and a $50 Target gift card. Second place winners take home $50 cash awards. All finalists receive an award certificate. The cash awards and coordination of the competition are underwritten by Wisconsin Center for the Book, an affiliate of Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, based in Madison.
First place winners will move onto nationwide competition, with awards at that level to be presented in Washington, D.C., in late spring.
Wisconsin's winning 2007 "Letters About Literature" are:
1st place - Makayla Imrie, Templeton Middle School, Sussex.
2nd place - Miranda Brown, Templeton Middle School, Sussex.
Honorable mention - Lorien Swanson, Woodside Elementary, Wisconsin Rapids.
1st place - Alex Inman, Onalaska.
2nd place - Alisa Helstead, Parkview Middle School, Green Bay.
Honorable mention - Kate Glenn, Parkview Middle School, Green Bay.
1st place - Danielle Breidung, Waunakee High School, Waunakee.
2nd place - Catrina Van Deraa, Clintonville High School, Clintonville.
Honorable mention - Hillary Rosenheim, Clintonville High School, Clintonville.
I decided to attend this "Letters About Literature" awards ceremony for two reasons. First, to honor these young writers, and all those who participated in the program; their efforts should be celebrated. And, second, because I may be tapped to take over coordination of the program for the Wisconsin Center for the Book's board of directors: I thought I should see what an awards ceremony looks like.
Because I am attending, the current coordinator, Dawn Jeffers, thought perhaps I could also deliver a short inspirational talk at the ceremony, about writing and being a writer. I've prepared some remarks that time out at about seven minutes, which means I should be done talking before anyone starts snoring.
The mission of the Wisconsin Center for the Book (WCB) is to promote the culture of the book by celebrating books and book arts, encouraging the joy of reading and writing, and honoring our Wisconsin literary heritage. For more information about WCB and its programs and events for all ages, visit: www.wisconsinacademy.org/book .