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State Power of Pen champ 'puts her heart and soul' into writing

Cary Ashby • Jun 14, 2019 at 7:00 PM

BERLIN HEIGHTS — Sara Gates made school history by being named the Power of the Pen state champion.

“She is the first (student) in Edison Middle School history to be the state champ. We’ve had many in the top, but she is the first to win it,” said adviser Colleen Hansen, who teaches sixth-grade language arts.

By being named state champ, Gates won the creative writing competition against 3,500 other seventh-grade competitors. Power of the Pen gives students prompts and a limited amount of time to write a fictional story. During each competition, they must write their stories in black ink.

The daughter of Tom and Jen, of Norwalk, wasn’t confident she would do well during the state competition at the College of Wooster. She wrote stories about suicide, alcoholism and other topics. 

“I got 10th (place) at district and I didn’t place at regionals, so I didn’t expect to win because of my previous placement,” said Gates, who recently completed seventh grade. “I didn’t even hear (the announcement). … The acoustics were so bad, I couldn’t even hear it announced at the College of Wooster.

“I was just amazed,” she added. “I figured I barely slipped into it.”

By the time Gates competed May 24 at the state level, she had written about 10 stories total in district, regional and state competitions.

“She got first place in every round,” said Hansen, who was Gates’ adviser. “She doubts herself and she shouldn’t.”

Edison’s seventh-grade Power of the Pen team placed first at district and regional.

“I think the seventh grade has a lot of talent,” Gates said. “They’re all amazing and have grown so much.”

The student said she appreciates all the support from her teammates, especially the constructive criticism over adding titles to her stories. When asked if she might continue writing later in life, Gates said she plans to go into the medical field, hopefully as an anesthesiologist in the surgery room. 

Her adviser praised her creative writing talent, saying her gift is “the ability to share her soul through her pen.”

“Every story Sara writes is full of emotion. It’s well developed and she puts her heart and soul into it,” Hansen said. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Caitlin Nearhood, of Tandem Media Network, contributed to this story.

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