Wednesday, December 22, 2010

WE'RE NOT DEAD: Flock of Angels Saves CT Young Writers Trust

  • Young Writers Trust Website

  • BREAKING News Reports From:

    Danbury News Times
    Litchfield County Times

    Young writer contest saved

    HARTFORD – A statewide writing contest for teens is now on track to survive its brush with bankruptcy, and will likely begin seeking submissions for 2011 soon.

    A representative of the Connecticut State University system said the $10,000 that the schools have collectively contributed to the contest prize fund in each of the past several years should still be available, and payable soon. Louise H. Feroe, senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, said she expects to have word quickly once the continued interest of the individual schools, which have collected submissions and provided other logistical support in years past, is confirmed.

    Board members of the Connecticut Young Writers Trust had anticipated a possible vote Wednesday to end the contest, which began in 1998 and has awarded nearly $200,000 in prizes, accepting about 6,000 entries over its history. Instead, an hour-long meeting at the law offices of Mayo Crowe LLC, marked a new beginning. Andy Thibault, chairman of the contest board, said another donor has agreed to provide another $10,000 to pay two part-time contest administrators. An announcement on submission deadlines for high school students across the state is expected later this month, or in early January, Thibault said.

    High school writers contest saved from the brink

    By Eileen FitzGerald
    Staff Writer
    Danbury News Times

    08:14 p.m., Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    DANBURY -- A statewide writing contest that rewarded prose and poetry writers from high schools around the state was saved from the brink Wednesday and will be held again in the spring.

    The Connecticut Young Writers Competition was on the verge of being eliminated after losing half of its funding this year. Then Glastonbury resident Matthew Daly agreed to share the costs with the Connecticut State University System so the program can continue.

    "A lot is still to be determined, but we will go forward,'' Andy Thibault, chairman of Connecticut Young Writers Trust, said Wednesday after a meeting on the program.

    More than 6,000 high school students have participated and nearly $200,000 has been awarded to the winners.

    Through the program, eight county winners in prose and poetry are selected, and from them a state winner in each category is selected.

    Ron Winter, an author, journalist and program judge from Hebron, has agreed to serve as executive director and administrator for the program.

    "We have a lot of legwork to do, but I want to get the applications out to schools. I want to continue this program with no interruptions. We can't let a project of this value to flounder," Winter said.

    "I've seen some terrific writing from contestants,'' he said, and the contest provides a way to reward them for their work.

    Winter said he called Daly last week when he realized the program was on its last legs. Daly agreed to supply $10,000 from a family trust to save it.

    "I'm just happy to be a part of it,'' said Daly, who works as a business consultant. "There is nothing more important than to provide some opportunities for these young people and to keep this going."

    Joanne Tolles, an English teacher at Danbury's Alternative Center for Excellence, was thrilled to learn the program would be saved.

    Danbury High School student Candi Deschamps was the state prose winner in 2001, and Tolles has had a student finalist every year but one since she began teaching in the city in 2001.

    "I believe in miracles. This contest just does so much for our young people. It levels the playing field,'' Tolles said. "It doesn't matter what school the student attends or what class they are in. It just matters what they are writing.''

    She called it a fair contest, well judged and open to everyone.

    "The creative writing process is important and yet it gets lost in the striving for higher test scores,'' Tolles said. "The creative process is higher-order learning."

    The Connecticut Young Writers Competition was started in Litchfield County in 1998 by James Irwin, who was then chairman of his firm, IMPAC.

    In 2000, William Cibes, retired chancellor of the Connecticut State University System, teamed up with Irwin, and IMPAC and CSUS each contributed $10,000 annually.

    IMPAC was unable to contribute its share of prize money after 2008 and Irwin died in 2009. The university system kept the program alive for those two years.

    Now Daly and the state universities will allow the program to continue.

    "We're not dead,'' Thibault said simply.

    Contact Eileen FitzGerald
    or at 203-731-3333.


    Early Xmas Present:
    Contest for Young Writers Is Saved (Web Exclusive)

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    Litchfield County Times

    LITCHFIELD—At the beginning of this week, the future of the CT Young Writers Trust, which sponsors a 13-year-old statewide contest for aspiring young writers, was a matter of doubt.

    A Christmas miracle has arrived, however, and the trust is saved.

    “We’re not dead,” said a relieved Andy Thibault of Litchfield, chairman of the nonprofit’s board of directors, after a Wednesday afternoon meeting with a longtime financial contributor and collaborator, the Connecticut State University System, proved fruitful.

    According to Mr. Thibault, the state university system, which has long been a major sponsor of the annual event, pledged $10,000 to keep it going. Just as importantly, contest judge and author Ron Winter secured a private family trust fund commitment in the same amount.

    Now the competition can afford an executive director, in this case Mr. Winter, and an administrator, along with being able to meet various other logistical costs, such as prize money and infrastructure. With some adjustment, it should be enough to save the 2011 competition, which looked unlikely just a few days ago.

    “We’ll move back the deadline a month,” Mr. Thibault conceded. “Probably do just one ceremony instead of five; we’ll figure out the prize money after awhile.”

    Typically, each year hundreds of students from across the state submit their writing. Each county yields two finalists, and those 16 head to the ultimate showdown. Last year, the prize distribution equaled $10,000. Of that $10,000, $8,000 was divided among the county champions, half of whom earned it for prose, the other half for poetry.

    It likely won’t work that way this year. Still, Mr. Thibault offers a big thanks to Mr. Winter, who secured the money from the charitable family trust of Glastonbury resident Matthew Daly.

    “I heard from Andy that it might go under, and I was shocked about it, so I got a hold of Matt,” said Mr. Winter. “This is something I consider tremendously valuable and I’d hate to lose it.”

    So would all the young writers, and the various high school teachers who have advocated on their behalf. Some have even written letters on behalf of the revived trust, illustrating just how valuable it’s been for past students.

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