On April 22, the Dallas County Reading Council held an award ceremony to honor students in both creative writing and poetry. Together with the Iowa Reading Association, the council works to promote literacy through leadership and educational programming. This includes an annual creative writing and poetry contest held for students aged Kindergarten to 12th grade.


Contestants begin by submitting their completed work at the county level. Each year approximately 100-200 creative writing stories and poems are submitted to the Dallas County Reading Council. From there, one winner per category per grade is chosen along with multiple honorable mentions.


Short story entries were judged based on continuity, creativity, originality, organization, defined and developed story elements, along with technical mechanics. In addition, the poetry entries were also judged on creativity and originality along with rhythm, spelling, the response evoked, the interest stimulated and imagery.


This year’s award ceremony was held at the Waukee Innovation and Learning Center in Waukee. Participants first heard from local author Julia Dellitt. Winners of each category were then invited to read their stories and poems in front of the author, family and friends. Winners and honorable mentions also received a certificate and journal.


Coming up, the county winners will go on to compete at the state level throughout the summer. This will conclude with a Young Author’s Celebration located at the Scheman Building in Ames. First place winners will once again have the opportunity to read their stories and poems in front of a local artist, their family and friends. In addition, they will receive a signed book by the local author, a “swag” bag, a first place medal and a certificate.


A number of Dallas County writers placed at the state level:


2018-19 Iowa Reading Association Short Short WinnersSecond-grader Olivia Crandall, at South Prairie Elementary in Grimes, placed sthird with her short story, “Friends by Surprise.”Perry Lindsey, a fourth-grader at Grant Regan Elementary in Waukee, placed third with “Lunette.”Miles Steffensmeier, a fifth-grader at Shuler Elementary in Waukee, took first place with “Soybean Power.”Seventh-grader Hannah Lake, of Van Meter Middle School, took third place with “My Bloody Thumb.”Isabella Webb, an eighth-grader at Timberline in Waukee, won second place with “The Clipboard.”


2018-19 Iowa Reading Association Poetry WinnersDeetya Raj Bolukonda, a second-grader at Grant Regan Elementary in Waukee, placed first for her piece titled “My India House.”Ben Bemis, a third-grader from Van Meter Elementary, placed second for his poem, “The Strings.”Samantha Akers, a fourth-grader from Van Meter Elementary, placed second for “Where the Sun Meets the Moon.”Fifth-grader Mason Bradly, of Van Meter Elementary, placed second for his piece, “Wild Turkey.”Elissa Burros, an eigth-grader at Timberline in Waukee, placed first for her piece “Narrator.”Ninth-grader Aviella Holtz, at Timberline in Waukee, placed third with “Lies.”


2018-19 Dallas County Reading Short Story WinnersGradePlaceNameTitleSchoolTeacher 1st1stAvery BeaversFancy Princess Avery is Coming to TownGrant Ragan Elem./WaukeeJessica Hammans HMEmma HansonA Snowman FriendGrant Ragan Elem./WaukeeKeri Ross HMBrynn WeitlBirthday PartyVan Meter Elem.Kelly Hagen2nd1stOlivia CrandallFriends by SurpriseSouth Prairie Elem./GrimesHeidi Borton HMKole DeppeMr. FastNorth Ridge Elem./GrimesPatricia Degnan HMNina SorrelChristmas KindnessGrant Ragan Elem./WaukeeMegan Trader3rd1stElla SteffensmeierPalm Tree ParadiseShuler Elem./WaukeeEmily Cruz HMNilabh BhowalRise of Rights: The Story of How Everyone Got Their RightsGrant Ragan Elem./WaukeeJulie Schneiter HMMadelyn HammondJollyGrant Ragan Elem./WaukeeJulie Schneiter4th1stPerry LindseyLunetteGrant Ragan Elem./WaukeeDeborah Bartholomew HMKaitlyn McCullochNever Say NeverGrant Ragan Elem./WaukeeDeborah Bartholomewco-authorsHMEthan DietzenbachThe King of MarsGrant Ragan Elem./WaukeeDeborah Bartholomewco-authorsHMJoel CarsonThe King of MarsGrant Ragan Elem./WaukeeDeborah Bartholomew5th1stMiles SteffensmeierSoybean PowerShuler Elem./WaukeeAmber Allen-Cosimo HMNessa SchnoorStay CoolGrant Ragan Elem./WaukeeAshley Graff HMMaylee KohlerThe TransformationGrant Ragan Elem./WaukeeLori Arndt6th 7th1stHannah LakeMy Bloody ThumbVan Meter Elem.Stacy Peterson 8th1stIsabella WebbThe ClipboardTimberline/WaukeeBrenda Reeves HMDaisy OtundoSleepy Mode in SchoolTimberline/WaukeeBrenda Reeves


2018-19 Dallas County Reading Poetry WinnersGradePlaceNameTitleSchoolTeacher2nd1stDeetya Raj BolukondaMy India HouseGrant Ragan Elem./WaukeeHeather Anderson HMDelaney MooreSnowGrant Ragan Elem./WaukeeHeather Andersonco-suthorsHMAvery GoinsWritingGrant Ragan Elem./WaukeeHeather Andersonco-suthorsHMMadelyn MathisenWritingGrant Ragan Elem./WaukeeHeather Anderson3rd1stBen BemisThe StringsVan Meter Elem.Ann Volk 4th1stSamantha AkersWhere the Sun Meets the MoonVan Meter Elem.Kate Lamoureux 5th1stMason BradleyWild TurkeyVan Meter Elem.Lorie Prouty HMAva MuellerMy Cat TaleVan Meter Elem.Lorie Prouty HMDane BernhardtThe CatVan Meter Elem.Lorie Prouty6th 7th 8th1stElissa BurrowsNarratorTimberline/WaukeeLyra Laedtke HMIsabella WebbThe Chasm of My Anxious MindTimberline/WaukeeBrenda Reeves HMKira MooreA LifetimeTimberline/WaukeeLyra Laedtke9th1stAviella HoltzLiesTimberline/WaukeeKelly Thompson HMKayla O’DonnellBrokenTimberline/WaukeeKelly Thompson HMMarissa MurphyAloneTimberline/WaukeeKelly Thompson