CANTON  Six seventh and eighth grade students from St. Michael School have won gold and silver National Scholastic awards, including three students from Jackson Township and one each from Lake Township, Plain Township and North Canton.

Middle school students at St. Michael participate in the Midwest Regional Scholastic Writing Awards Program every year. The program is the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious recognition program for student writers. According to Belin-Blank Center, which is the University of Iowa’s Education Department, over 1,000 students and 500 educators from throughout the Midwest Region are invited to participate in the competition and celebration.

“It’s important for students to participate in the competition because it is a chance for people outside of the student’s group of family, friends and school to evaluate their writing skills, it builds their confidence when they find out their writing stood out from all others and was recognized," said St. Michael seventh and eighth grade writing teacher Amy Krajack.

The three students from Jackson Township included:

- Seventh grader Michael Woodward won a gold at regional and a silver at national for his essay “Taking a Stroll”

Woodward said his nanna was a terrific writer and won some writing contests and that is what inspires him to write. His essay was about taking a stroll down memory lane in his dad’s hometown.

“I learned a lot about my dad and where he grew up,” he said. “My teacher asked me to write about something that struck a chord. I also like music and my dad played the radio on the trip and we listened to music which made the trip even more special.”

He said it was surreal to hear his name on the school announcement as one of the winners.

- Seventh grader Madison Heiser won gold at regional and earned the Midwest Best in Grade award for “Ring of Inheritance”

Heiser said her inspiration to write comes from her grandmother who wanted to be a writer but had to go to work to support her family. She said she is happy that, “I can do what I want and not be held back” like her grandmother.

Her essay was about receiving a ring from her grandmother. Heiser related that ring to her grandmother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s.

“The ring had been passed down from grandmother to my mother and then to me. My mom gave it to me at my 10th birthday party. My grandmother wasn’t able to attend because she was in a nursing home. I wrote about it because I feel Alzheimer’s needs to be talked about more,” she said.

Heiser said she was surprised to win and didn’t expect her writing to go so far in the competition.

- Eighth grader Cloe Doll won a silver at regional for “Sit Back, Relax, and Enjoy the Flight”

Lake Township Student winner:

Eighth grader Anna Patterson won silver at regionals for “Tragedies of Marine Pollution”

Patterson said she is inspired to write by her family and the things and places she goes with her family. Her essay was about the polluting of the oceans.

“It’s a topic a deeply care about,” she said. “I go to the beach a lot and I see trash on the beach so I wanted to write about it.”

Patterson said she was surprised to win and she didn’t expect her writing to get that far.

Additional student winners

Eighth grader Viviana Marshall from North Canton won gold at regional and national and will go onto the awards ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York City in June for “Artful Inheritance”

Eighth grader Sarah Grabowsky from Plain Township won honorable mention at regional for “The Unintentional Benefit of Learning a Second Language”

Krajack said that all of the winners were surprised by the awards they received.

“The students often don’t think that their writing is good enough to win. It did surprise me that we had two students win at national this year because it was the first time. Writing is such an important skill for life that students need to be prepared. It’s an artform and a skill that takes a back seat when it comes to testing,” Krajack said. “I’m appreciative that I work for a school that dedicates a class every day to writing.”