A Delaware Academy Central School freshman turned her appreciation of a book into state recognition. Ninth grader Lindsey McGowan was recently notified she was a runner-up in the state Letters about Literature contest.
The competition, sponsored by the Library of Congress’ National Center for the Book, asks students to write a letter to an author expressing how they connected with the piece of literature, how the piece changed them or made them think more deeply. It’s open to students in grades four through 10.
McGowan’s winning letter was written to Jay Asher about his book “13 Reasons Why.” She will receive a certificate and cash award, according to the school website. She is in Nancy Sikes’ Advanced English class.
“It makes me really happy,” McGowan said about her success. She read the book about a year ago and she still remembers the details including how every little thing can affect someone.
It is the story of a young girl who committed suicide, but before she died she sent a cassette tape explaining the reasons why. “It was very moving,” McGowan said.
This was the second year she entered the competition, which was suggested to the class by her teacher.
She said she enjoys writing stories at home. It is an interest she might like to pursue in college. Winning the recognition is very encouraging, she said.
Sikes said she was glad that McGowan felt so strongly about the book. She was able to convey that in her letter. Although the assignment was optional, “having them write about what they read is a rewarding part of my job.” For students to be willing to do this “is such a testament to their love of the book.”
While she suggested the contest to her 72 students in eighth and ninth grades, three students participated, including last year’s state runner-up, Bethany Davis. That is one more than last year, she said. “As more students find out about it, I hope more will participate.”
Middle/High School Principal Laurie Alberti said she’s extremely proud of her teacher for challenging her students, and she’s proud of McGowan for her achievement and the way she represents Delaware Academy.