(With Nancy Posey, Director of NCETA's Student Writing Awards)
Yesterday's drive over the mountains to Caldwell Community College was fraught with uncertainty. I didn't know how the weather was going to turn out, and I wasn't sure about the directions Mapquest had given me. Yes, I got lost. And I decided asking folks at service stations and Kentucky Fried works better than the internet if you're lost.
Sure enough, thanks to the cheerily helpful woman at KFC, I found Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute. Nancy Posey, past president of the NC English Teachers Association and this year's Director of Student Writing Awards, greeted me as I walked in with a big box of First Light booklets.
Lunch was just what we needed after a cold, windy morning: soup. White chili, red chili, chicken noodle, cabbage-sausage. Both the white chili and the cabbage soup were great, and to be honest, I was having a hard time paying attention to Elaine Cox announcing the Teacher of the Year because I was enjoying that soup so seriously! After Elaine's presentation, the Student Awards were presented, the first being the Wade Edwards Fiction Award, followed by the Watterson-Timberlake Essay presentations, the subject this year being "Memoir."
Then, it was time for POETRY. Because of weather and distance several of our student winners couldn't make it, but all of our Middle School winners did, even Allie Sekulich, all the way from Raleigh with her parents Mike and Kim and her siblings Summer and Nick. C.J. Murphy, his teacher Lydia Dunn, and his mother made it from Hickory, and Falecia Metcalf and family were in the audience, as well, having driven over from Buncombe County. Falecia's teacher at N. Buncombe Middle School, Julie Young, was there, too.
These young poets were understandably nervous about reading their poems to a large audience, so I offered to read their work for them, after presenting their awards. That was the best part of the day! Reading them aloud, I realized all over again how good these poems are.
Here we are after the program.
Here we are after the program.
(From left, C.J. Murphy, Falecia Metcalf, me, and Allie Sekulich)
Only one high school awardee attended, our first place winner, Sarah Brady. She, too, traveled from Raleigh with her mother Rebecca. She read her splendid poem, Vocabulary Words, to nods of appreciation from the assembled teachers.
(Sarah Brady and her mother Rebecca)
The Ragan-Rubin Awardee this year was Sheila Kay Adams, an old friend. How old I won't reveal. We sat together at lunch, Sheila with her ibook, scrolling through a long piece of prose. John York was to my other side, enjoying his chili. Perfect lunch companions!
(Nancy Posey presenting Sheila Kay Adams with the Ragan-Rubin Award)
Sheila's presentation was a reading from her laptop, a new book she began a while back, "weird," she said, but I'd call it magical. Sheila is a born performer, right down to her gold shoes, which you'll see in this photo of Sheila signing books after the program.
After the book signings, Sheila Kay received yet another award--the Little Debbie Cupcake Award, which she gratefully accepted from John York.
Please visit the NCETA website at www.ncenglishteacher.org for more information about the association and the Student Award programs.
I will be presenting the winning poems this coming week on my blog. That's when you will see why I fell in love with them and why I couldn't decide among the High School submissions and ended up declaring so many ties.