PLAIN TWP.  Students at St. Michael's Catholic School are writing their own success stories. A number of students won a variety of awards for their talents this year, including four students receiving Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Two of them took home top honors.

Recipients of Scholastic Writing Awards for the Midwest Writing Region at The University of Iowa include eighth-grader John Scarpitti, who earned a Gold Key for his memoir "Hospice Centers Don’t Have Coin Vortexes," and eighth-grader Mary Beth McBride also earned a Gold Key for her critical essay "Imagine."

A Gold Key is the highest regional honor and qualified both students to move onto Scholastic’s National Competition. While neither placed in the nationals, Scarpitti and McBride are eligible for full-tuition scholarships to attend a summer writing program at a participating university.

"John wrote a memoir about a significant memory in his life which was when his great aunt was in the hospital and eventually was in a Hospice center," said junior high teacher and writing coach Amy Krajeck. "He compared the feeling of hope for recovery while in the hospital to where there isn’t any hope when in Hospice. He used the coin vortex as a symbol or having hope. Mary Beth wrote about the Beatles song 'Imagine' where there is no hatred or bad news in the world. She wrote about how the song influenced people when it was first released and how it still applies today."

McBride was the only eighth-grader in the Midwest Writing Region to be recognized in the critical essay category. In addition to Scarpitti and McBride, eighth-grader Madison Butterfield and seventh-grader Kendall Compton both earned Honorable Mentions for their short stories "The Picture" and memoir "New Sister," respectively.

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, whose mission is to identify students with exceptional literary talent and present their remarkable work to the world through the Scholastic Writing Awards. Through the Awards, students receive opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication, and scholarships.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Art, Writing & Multimedia Contest Winners

In addition to those four award winning writers, seventh-grader Michael Watters won first place in the writing competition for the 2017 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Art, Writing & Multimedia Contest, sponsored by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission with support from PNC, Honda of America, and Wright State University. The group received nearly 900 entries for this year’s contest and only one winner is selected to receive recognition from each grade level.

Letter about Literature Reading and Writing Contest

Plus, St. Michael’s had students advance to the state level in the Letter about Literature Reading and Writing Contest. This contest challenges students to write a letter to an author (living or dead) about how that person's writing affected them personally. Students from St. Michael's School who had their letters selected for the state level were Isabella Adams, Madison Butterfield, Brian Chappie, Sean Domer, Emily Kuntz, Xander Shaffer, Laura Sieber and Michael Watters.

Power of the Pen Competition

In addition, St. Michaels had their students’ writing recognized for excellence this month during their Power of the Pen competition at Malone University. The eighth-grade St. Michael’s Power of the Pen Team brought home third place honors in district competition out of 26 teams from around the state during the regional competition on March 4.

The eighth-grade team members included Emily Kuntz, Jac Compton, John Scarpitti, Kylie Welton and Gabby Richetti. The team had several individual award winners as Ella Salvino won a 6th place of 77 writers; Jac Compton placed 8th individually out of 91 writers; Emily Kuntz won a 9th place and the distinction being awarded a Best of Round, which means her writing will be included in the 2017 publication, the "Power of the Pen Book of Winners."

"We have 78 students in junior high at St. Michaels and 25 of those students are involved with the Power of the Pen. I follow the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts which there are a lot of competitive programs that fit well with Common Core," said Krajeck .

Krajeck said Salvino, Compton, Welton and Kuntz will be advancing to the state level competition. They will be joined by seventh-grader Audrianna Miller, who qualifed individually in her grade level.

While St. Michael's School has always had strong Power of the Pen teams, Krajeck believes this was the first year the students competed in the Scholastic Art & Writing programs. She says that participating in competitions like these forces the students to edit and revise to a higher level than if they were just turning in a regular assignment

"All of our students rise to the occasion and enjoy the writing process," Krajeck said. "I also approach writing as an art form where they have to take their time and keep revising and make the work evolve. It’s a neat group of students to work with and they have all grown in their writing talents since the beginning of the year. It’s fun for me too being able to watch them go through the writing process."

Daughters of the American Revolution Junior Achievement Awards

Eighth-grader Alyssa Mattis and seventh-grader Michael Watters earned first-place honors through the Canton Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution Junior Achievement Awards Short Story contest. The theme for 2016 was "Our National Parks – 100 Years of Service."

Spelling Bee and Geography Bee

Denil Joseph was the runner-up at the 71st Canton Repository Spelling Bee held at GlenOak High School Theatre on March 4. He was one of 52 spellers from Stark, Carroll, Holmes and Tuscarawas counties. Joseph also qualified for the National Geographic State Geography Bee, which was held March in Columbus where he could qualify for the national championship held in Washington D.C. May 14-17.

This is the third year in row that Joseph was a runner-up in the spelling bee and his second year to qualify in the geography bee.