Omaha student tops state in writing contest
April 18, 2019
Encouraged to write a letter as though addressing Trenton Lee Stewart, author of The Mysterious Benedict Society book series, seventh-grader Caleb Hans of St. Pius X/St. Leo School in Omaha won first place in Nebraska for his division in the 25th annual Letters About Literature national writing contest.
Sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the contest invites students in fourth grade through high school to select a book that affected their lives and write a letter reflecting their thoughts to the book’s author, living or dead.
Hans reflected on ways he had taken his family and friends for granted, but The Mysterious Benedict Society made him think about what it would be like to be an orphan; and he realized “what a huge mistake I had made for taking them all for granted. I would never be able to cope with not having dependable friends and a guiding, loving and caring family.”
All letters were sent to a national judging committee and the top letters were sent back to the individual states, where first- and second-place letters were selected. This year in Nebraska, 215 students entered the contest in the seventh- through eighth-grade category. Nearly 5,000 students in all grades nationally entered the contest.
Since 2013, three other students have won first place in Nebraska while in seventh grade at St. Pius X/St. Leo: Ethan Morrow last year and his brother, Owen, in 2015, and Shannon Chinn in 2013. Chinn also was a runner-up in the national contest.
The Nebraska competition is sponsored and coordinated by the Nebraska Center for the Book, Nebraska Library Commission, Houchen Bindery Ltd., Humanities Nebraska and Chapters Bookstore in Seward.