WriteNow! 2020

Virtual Award Ceremony

Welcome to the 2020 WriteNow! High School Writing Contest virtual award ceremony! White Bear Center for the Arts has hosted the WriteNow! Contest for nearly 40 years to encourage young writers and recognize their creative talents in the art of writing. All high school students in the Northeast Metro Area are invited to participate in this annual contest. The WriteNow! Contest judges are professional authors, writers, and educators. We hope you enjoy the program, and we encourage you to read all student entries whose original works were recognized by this year’s judges.


Opening Remarks


“It’s always a great honor to judge the Write Now short story writing contest. More than an honor, it gives me great pleasure to read stories from so many new, blossoming, and creative writers. I have no doubt that many of you talented writers will become published authors.”
– Michael Blumer, Short Story Judge


“One day you’ll find yourself decades into a writing life, and you’ll know that this practice, begun in your teens, is one of the best things you’ve ever done.”
– Mary Jane LaVigne, Creative Nonfiction Judge


Poetry: 9th & 10th Grade

Justice Will Sing by Toluwalase Akintola,  Award of Excellence

Restart by Lily Kronschnabel, Award of Merit

Nature by Kaelyn Chen, Honorable Mention


Poetry: 11th & 12th Grade

Golden Boy by Maxwell Lakso, Award of Excellence

Enough by Makenna Cook, Award of Merit

Still Growing by Maxwell Lakso, Honorable Mention


“I was amazed at the inspiring poetic understandings of several topics; political, natural, friends and family. They were authentic and heart felt observations…. Many spoke as if they wanted to have people sense how importance racial and cultural equality is in their lives.”
– Anne Picard, Poetry Judge


Short Story: 11th & 12th Grade

Elevator Operator by Julia Thomalla, Award of Excellence

Home by Evelyn Hardy, Award of Merit

The Artistic Observer by Madeleine Lutterman, Honorable Mention


Persuasive Essay: 9th & 10th Grade

Changing How Schools Deal With Racism by Chloe Bromeland, Award of Excellence

Who, Not What by Jackelyn Ong, Award of Merit

I Don’t See You by Toluwalase Akintola, Honorable Mention


Persuasive Essay: 11th & 12th Grade

Putting a Period on the Tampon Tax by Julia Thomalla, Award of Excellence

No More Participation Award by Julia Juelich, Award of Merit

The Effects of Modern Slavery: Sex Trafficking by Emma Schaible, Honorable Mention


“I was thrilled to see so many essays this year making arguments for important changes in our community and advocating for social justice and equity…. These students exemplify the hope and optimism that we should all place in our ability to change the systems that we sometimes see as inevitable.”
– Anne Swanson, Persuasive Essay Judge


Creative Nonfiction: 9th & 10th Grade

Finding a Piece of my Puzzle by Lily Gornik, Award of Excellence

The Sunrise and the Stars by Anna Thompson, Award of Merit

Dora the Explorer Underwear by Ashley Jones, Honorable Mention


Creative Nonfiction: 11th & 12th Grade

Once More by Myla Pierre-Louis, Award of Excellence

Her Life by Grace Johnson, Award of Merit

True or False by Maxwell Lakso, Honorable Mention

Testing, One, Two, Three by Julia Thomalla, Honorable Mention


“It was a pleasure to consider each of your entries, to be ushered into your lives, like a wedding guest who doesn’t know the bride. Readers are a writer’s best prize. You all deserve to be read. That I say with confidence.”
-Mary Jane LaVigne, Creative Nonfiction Judge


Special Thanks to


Our outstanding school coordinators

Joshua Lehr, White Bear Lake Area High School – North Campus
Joshua Lane, White Bear Lake Area High School – South Campus
Jennifer Kirkham, White Bear Lake Area High School – South Campus
John Forestell, White Bear Lake Area High School – ALC
Rachel Steil, Stillwater Area High School
Kelley Ungerecht, Forest Lake Area High School
Christine Alexander, Mounds View High School
Jackie Halverson, Mahtomedi High School

Our 2020 judges

Poetry: Mary Kolles, MaryAnn Moenck, & Anne Picard
Short Story: Michael Blumer, Maiya Grath, & Carolyn Youngbauer
Creative Nonfiction: Mary Jane LaVigne, Tracy Nelson Maurer, & Steve Simmons
Persuasive Essay: Julie Lundgren, Mark Nicklawske, & Anne Swanson

Click on a judge to read further commentary from them!


In loving memory of Robbie Johnson

Chair – WriteNow! High School Writing Contest
White Bear Center for the Arts Board Member

Robbie passed away on December 1, 2019. Robbie was a retired educator. She was passionate about providing opportunities for high school students to be recognized for their creative talents in the art of writing. Robbie will be missed, but her legacy will be celebrated by having contributed to the future generations of talented writers.


WriteNow! is Supported by

Sharon & Eric Castren
Laurie Kigner
Constance Kunin 

This activity is made possible in part by a grant from the Greater White Bear Lake Community Foundation

WBCA business sponsors (see below)

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