A teacher who believes that student writing should be celebrated allows his students to get creative with the Kansas Authors Club Youth Writing Competition every year.

"This competition allows me to generate an authentic writing experience. It places a bit more intrigue on writing and as competition does, it often produces better work," said Paul Carver, a fifth grade teacher at Eisenhower Elementary School in McPherson.

Carver works with students interested in this competition and gets to see their excitement and dedication they put toward their writing.

"There is a degree of pride that happens when you've pressed that submit button. It's rewarding when former students tell me with excitement that they've submitted writing again. The best part is the look on their face when they get the letter inviting them to the conference where they will accept their award," he said.

The writing competition consists of three categories: non-fiction, fiction and poetry.

Carver encourages students to submit writing in at least one category, but they may try all categories.

This year, Oliva Cheatham a sixth grader, won first place in the non-fiction category and third place in the fiction category. Sam Houston, a sixth grader, won second place in the fiction category, Nicholas Cole, a sixth grader, won second place in the fiction category, Jordan Vanderhoof, a seventh grader, won third place in the Bill Karnowski Poetry Contest and Hannah Enrickson, a seventh grader, won honorable mention in poetry grades fifth through sixth.

No matter if students win or loose, Carver is proud of the efforts they put into the competition.

"I love that my students who have looked negatively toward writing have found ways to see it from another perspective. Students who wouldn't necessarily write are choosing to continue writing because their writing has an audience and can make an impact," Carver said. "Students who have found success can continue to be successful and that success is in an area that is often uncelebrated."

Carver ensures that this competition encourages students to put their best work forward.

"Students who have never felt their writing stands out, have had their writing selected as one of the best places," he said.

Carver's students have been competing in the writing competition for the past three years.

"We are proud that we have had many winners and are excited that former Eisenhower students have continued the tradition on their own in middle school," he said. "Plus, I'm pleased that word of the competition has begun to spread and other students are submitting entries."

He also sees students creativity shine within this competition and feels it is necessary for their process.

"Whether it's a fictional story or a personal experience, the students' thoughts are unique. The things children notice and report are often novel and that's what makes it so interesting to read," he said.

Although the competition allows students to show their creative side, Carver also said it gives them a life skill by teaching them how to communicate with others and analyzing thoughts and emotions.

"Competitions like this are just one way we can engage students, their writing becomes a thing of pride instead of just a paper in a file cabinet," Carver said.

For more information on the competition, visit http://www.kansasauthorsclub.stjamesday.com/contest.html#youth

Contact Brooke Haas by email at bhaas@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.