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Local Students Take Top Honors in Short Story Contest

Grace Biddle, a Crofton, Md., resident and junior at South River High School, took first prize in the 2016 Gaithersburg Book Festival short story contest for high school students with her story, “Flight.”

Second prize went to Osbourn Park High School (Prince William County, Va.) senior Bethany Kressin, for her story, “Eulogy for a Chameleon.” Third prize went to “The Ticket,” written by Sarah Craig, a senior from Oakton (Va.) High School. And “As Time Goes By,” written by junior Olivia Hammond from Clarksburg (Md.) High School, was named the Fan Favorite.

The top three winners received $100, $75 and $50 gift certificates, respectively, and the Fan Favorite, which was determined based on voting on the Gaithersburg Book Festival website, received a $25 gift certificate. Prizes were provided by the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus.

The winners were announced Saturday at the seventh annual Gaithersburg Book Festival.

The winning stories were selected by Gaithersburg resident Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, author of more than 140 books for both children and adults, including “Shiloh,” for which she received the Newbery Medal. Naylor appeared at the 2016 Festival to talk about her latest novel for young teens, “Going Where It’s Dark.”

“I am always amazed at both the quality and depth of some stories by teen writers, far better than what I was writing at their age,” Naylor said.

Their stories were inspired by artwork from three Montgomery County artists: Lindsey Levy from Winston Churchill High School, Cameron Garland from Northwest High School and Azalea Coste, who graduated from Montgomery Blair High School last year. The artwork originally appeared as part of a juried art exhibit at the Johns Hopkins Montgomery County Campus.

Contest finalists also included:

  • Alli Henderson – Broadneck High School, grade 11, Arnold, Md.
  • Naomi Kline – Osbourn Park High School, grade 10, Woodbridge, Va.
  • Angelica Mansfield – Watkins Mill High School, grade 10, Montgomery Village, Md.
  • Emerald Norman – Takoma Academy, grade 11, Rockville, Md.
  • Neida Reina – Gaithersburg High School, grade 12, Gaithersburg, Md.
  • Bisma Shaikh – Osbourn Park High School, grade 11, Manassas, Va.
  • Emma Stohlman – Osbourn Park High School, grade 11, Dumfries, Va.
  • Kayana Tyson – Osbourn Park High School, grade 10, Woodbridge, Va.

The finalists’ stories are available online at

CATEGORY: K-12 Outreach, In The Community