CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Education, in partnership with the Central West Virginia Writing Project, Marshall University, the EdVenture Group and the University of Charleston hosted approximately 240 student writers at West Virginia Young Writers Day at the University of Charleston. Additionally, West Virginia author and illustrator Ashley Belote addressed the future writers and families as the keynote speaker. Celebrating its 40th year, Young Writers Day has recognized student writing in the Mountain State as a hallmark of a comprehensive and robust education. Teachers and administrators in each county encourage students to submit entries on any topic and in any prose genre. Winners were recognized at an award ceremony at the event. “Our students are full of wonder, creativity, and talent that they have thoroughly expressed through writing,” said State Superintendent of Schools Michele L. Blatt. “Young Writers Day supports the vital literacy that are the bedrock of learning. Educators eagerly nurture these foundational skills and expand student achievement. Addtionally, the event gives our students the freedom to explore writing and immerse themselves in the creative process.” Ashley Belote is the author-illustrator of “Witch & Wombat,” “The Me Tree,” and “Listen Up, Louella.” She also illustrated “Frankenslime” and “Valenslime.” She graduated from Alderson Broaddus University and currently serves as the Illustrator Coordinator for the Carolinas chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Participating students also engaged in grade-appropriate writing workshops led by education leaders and award-winning local writers. Several state winners read their submitted pieces, and county winners were recognized for their contributions.

State Winners

Student Name Grade Level Award Level County Baylor Brown 1-2 1st Greenbrier Taylor Brown 1-2 2nd Putnam Payton Bolyard 1-2 3rd Marion Isaiah Fitts 3-4 1st Summers Penelope Buzzard 3-4 2nd Pocahontas Jaycie Lusk 3-4 3rd Monongalia Chloe Deel 5-6 1st McDowell Mackenzie Conley 5-6 2nd Logan Bailey Goodwin 5-6 3rd Pocahontas Brianna Epperly 7-8 1st Fayette Malakai Jones 7-8 2nd Wyoming Brielle Coburn 7-8 3rd Mercer Makayla Orndoff 9-10 1st Hampshire Maddix Duckworth 9-10 2nd Mineral Brooklyn Ratliff 9-10 3rd Gilmer Anna Trent 11-12 1st Doddridge Grace Brantley 11-12 2nd Monongalia Sandra Ballenger 11-12 3rd Fayette

To learn more about Young Writers Day and see photos of counties’ winners, visit Student Programs. For media inquiries, contact Christy Day, West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications, at 304-558-2699 or

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