Connecticut’s 2018 Letters About Literature Contest Winners Named

The Neag School of Education, the UConn Department of English, and the Connecticut Writing Project (CWP) at UConn are proud to announce Connecticut’s winners of the 25th annual Letters About Literature competition, a nationwide contest sponsored by the Library of Congress for students in grades 4 through 12.

Theme Letters About LiteratureThis fall, the Neag School, the Department of English, and the CWP served as the contest’s Connecticut sponsors for the 2017-18 academic year; Neag Professor Doug Kaufman, CWP Director Jason Courtmanche, and Neag School Ph.D. candidate Dani King-Watkins served as the contest’s representatives for the state of Connecticut.

There were more than 1,300 submissions from Connecticut students, and 120 finalists. Each finalist will receive a certificate of recognition. Nine winners from each of the contest’s three categories (Grades 4-6, Grades 7-8, and Grades 9-12) have been selected, and each will receive a cash prize and state recognition, which includes a special ceremony at the Connecticut State Capitol Building on Friday, April 20. From those nine winners, three first-place winners have been selected, who will now advance to the national competition, for which winners will be chosen later this month. Read more about the contest here, and click the students’ names below to read their winning essays.

Congratulations to the winners for the state of Connecticut:

Level I (Grades 4-6)

  • First place: Dominic Roussos, King Philip Middle School, West Hartford (Teacher – Lucinda Kulvinskas) — Essay based on The King’s Stilts by Doctor Seuss
  • Second place: Jackson Drew, Macdonough School, Middletown (Teacher – John Ferrero) — Essay based on Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • Second place: Clare Sweeney, King Philip Middle School, West Hartford (Teacher – Lucinda Kulvinskas) — Essay based on Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Level II (Grades 7-8)

  • First place: Katherine Van Tassel, Worthington Hooker School, New Haven (Teacher – Eden Stein*) — Essay based on The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Second place: Michelle Zhu, Mansfield Middle School, Storrs (Teacher – Melissa Szych) — Essay based on The Crystal Ribbon by Celeste Lim

Level III (Grades 9-12)

  • First place: Brielle Cayer, Middletown High School, Middletown (Teacher – David Frankel) — Essay based on Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
  • Second place: Keely Barletta, ACES Educational Center for the Arts, New Haven (Teacher – Deborah Cannarella) — Essay based on We’ll Paint the Octopus Red by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen
  • Second place: Allison Blume, Rockville High School, Vernon (Teacher – Shaune Santos**) — Essay based on Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
  • Second place: Minahil Farooqi, Edwin O. Smith High School, Storrs (Teacher – Amy Nocton* **) — Essay based on I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

* Affiliated with CWP

** UConn alumna/us

Letters About Literature Contest Judging
Students in the Neag School and Department of English judged the 120 Letter About Literature contest finalists this past month. The judges selected the best Letters About Literature submitted by Connecticut students at each of the three competition levels (grades 4-5, 7-8, and 9-12). (Photo Credit: Shawn Kornegay/Neag School)

Thank you again to the Neag School’s and CWP’s contest judges, who are current students in either the Neag School of Education Integrated Bachelor’s/Master’s program or in the Department of English:

Rhianna Bennett
Andrea Cuadrado
Peter Dovidaitis
Nicole Gerardin
Katie Grant
Amethyst Hamby
Sarah Hoag
Tommy Jacobsen
Shane Luery
Marisa Macek
Megan O’Connor
Shelby Phipps
Jill Power
Sadie Robinson
Rachel Ruiz
Gabby Strain
Clarissa Tan
Emily Turin
Samantha White
Kim Yrayta

Check out photos from the Letters About Literature judging day.