Wayne County Reads honors student essay winners at finale
By Dennis Hill
Published in News on March 2, 2010 1:46 PM
The winners of the essay contest that capped the annual Wayne County Reads campaign chose an eclectic group of books to answer the question: "What book would you save?"
Winners were honored at the campaign finale, a reception and reading held at the Arts Council on Monday night.
This year's campaign was based on the science fiction classic "Fahrenheit 451," which depicts a future society where books are banned and burned. Participating students across the county were asked to choose one book, outside of religious works, that they would save given the chance to rescue just one book from the flames.
Rosewood High School students in the classes of teacher Rhonda Greenup dominated the competition, taking four of the top five spots.
The first-place essay was written by Rosewood junior Briona Jackson, who chose the Dr. Seuss children's favorite, "Green Eggs and Ham."
In her essay, she said the choice might seem immature but that the book was important to her because of the link it provided between generations in her family. Her mother read it to her when she was young, Ms. Jackson said, and her grandmother read it to her mother before that.
"Green Eggs and Ham," is a representation of love, quality time and traditions between my family and me," she wrote. "When I read "Green Eggs and Ham," to my little cousins and nephews, I am making lines of precious experiences into chapters of new history. ... I could not bear to see a whole lifetime of memories be turned into a pile of dark, meaningless ashes."
Second place went to Rosewood junior Jennifer Page, who admitted to not being much of a reader as a child. But the novel "Pretties," by Scott Westerfield helped change that for her, she said.
The book, much like "Fahrenheit 451," describes a futuristic society that requires little or no individual thought by its residents. Its heroine eventually learns to think on her own.
"She was the first character I was able to truly connect with," Ms. Page wrote. "It made me reflect on myself and what I and our society value most in life.
"I fell in love with words once I read this novel," she said.
Third place went to Rosewood junior Kelly Best, who chose the novel "Nineteen Minutes," by Jodi Picoult. The book "tells a story which illustrates the cost of standing out in a society that demands conformity," she wrote.
Honorable mentions went to sophomore Kendrick Forte of Wayne Academy High School, who selected "The Diary of Anne Frank," and Rosewood junior Beth Stovall, who picked "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."
Forte said the famous diary of a young girl forced to hide from Nazi forces during World War II, "shows life, frustration, and times of hard-going and that is what youth need to read. They need to see that life is not all glimmer and gold ...." His English teacher is Julie Potts.
Ms. Stovall said "Alice" inspired her as a child and still preserves some of that innocence for her.
"By reading this book, people will once again feel the wonder and fascination of being a child," she wrote, "which may be what everyone needs a little of from time to time."
The winners were chosen by members of the Goldsboro Writers Group. Copies will be on display at the Wayne County Public Library and in honor of the winners, new copies of each book were donated to the library by the group.
Partners in this year's Wayne County Reads were thanked for their support throughout the campaign. They were the Arts Council, Mount Olive College, Wayne Community College, the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Library, the Wayne County Public Library, the Wayne County school system, the Goldsboro Rotary Club and the Friends of the Library.