hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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July 18, 2013

Judges choose winners of Write Away!! contest

For the past 21 years, judges have agonized over choosing the best stories and poems submitted to the annual Write Away!! contest, which is sponsored by the District Parent Council and Haverhill’s public schools.

It was no different in this year’s 22nd annual contest, which judges said was highlighted by many excellent submissions from students at all grade levels.

“I spent the weekend reading these with my two sons (ages 7 and 9) who agreed with me that it was hard to pick a favorite for many of the grades,” said Tracy Fuller, director the Haverhill YMCA and one of this year’s judges.

The annual contest celebrates and promotes good writing in Haverhill’s school system and is run by volunteers. Prizes are funded with donations.

Shelly Ann Cullen of Haverhill Bank said her experience as a first year judge was “sensational.”

“I was so inspired and so intrigued by the stories and the writers that I would love to be involved more by assisting (if needed) with the 2,000-plus essays from inception,” she said.

School Committee member Joseph Bevilacqua, also a contest judge, said he was amazed by this year’s entries.

“The writers displayed a quality that made the reader think and wanting to continue on with their story or poem,” Bevilacqua said. “Great talent and interest.”

Ashleigh Bergh, a past Write Away winner and now a judge for the contest, said it was difficult to place this year’s winners as there were so many great stories.

“It was refreshing to read stories with big imagination and thought-provoking themes,” said Bergh, a story editor for MXN Entertainment in Hollywood, Calif. “I hope the authors continue to write, as they’ve all got great voices and a knack for putting words on paper.”

More than 2,000 entries per year have been received over the 22 years of the contest’s existence, said Ashleigh’s father, Herb Bergh, who co-chairs the contest along with Tricia Manjounes.

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