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Teen contest could lead to magazine publication

PROCTORVILLE — Getting published in a regional magazine would be the cherry on top of this literary sundae. But the sundae itself is a getting a chance at self-expression and extolling the virtues of the place they call home.

That’s the opportunity all high school students in the county are getting when they participate in the upcoming Voice of Appalachian Teen Essay Contest.

“Having children in different parts of the country helped me realize some people view us differently,” Evelyn Capper, Fairland High librarian, said.

So when she learned that a South Carolina publisher was coming to Ohio University Southern for seminars, she got the idea for the contest that she has called, “I Am Appalachian: That Is Who I Am.”

“I thought how about giving our Appalachian teens a voice,” Capper said. “I want them to be proud.”

In the contest rules Capper expands on the purpose of the essay’s theme.

“Many things have been written about the Appalachian people, and unfortunately, some of those things written haven’t been positive,” she writes. “This essay contest gives teens in Lawrence County an opportunity to share the rich traditions, family values and cultural richness our area offers.”

Each school will select five essays and those students will participate in a workshop at Fairland High with Susan Kammeraad-Campbell, publisher of Joggling Board Press, an independent publishing house based in Charleston, S.C.

“I think this is an excellent opportunity,” Kammeraad-Campbell said. “It takes the student outside the school curriculum mode and gives them an opportunity and a challenge to express themselves to an audience of academics and professionals outside the teacher arena. In that sense the audience changes and when the audience changes their thinking changes as well.”

How the students’ essays will be used has not yet been determined, she said.

“The publications are in a nascent state,” she said. “Part of the process would be to elicit their ideas as well so they are factors in the creation of the publications.”

Kammeraad-Campbell will meet with OUS Ironton students in a workshop on Thursday, Oct. 20.

Then on Friday she and teachers from the eight participating high schools will conduct student workshop. On Saturday the publisher will meet with students from an Appalachian Studies class taught at OUS Proctorville.