Winning 5th grade and 9th grade authors and illustrators Friday afternoon at Kent State University Tusc.

NEW PHILADELPHIA (TuscoTV) - The East-Central Ohio Educational Service Center hosted it’s Young Authors and Young Illustrators program last Friday at Kent State University Tuscarawas. This marks the first year of the event in its current form, as it grew from the combination of the Young Authors and Writers Workshop programs and has expanded to include illustration.


“We realized that illustration is not always the strength of the person writing the story, and some students are able to express themselves through art better than through words, and we wanted to give an opportunity to showcase both of those things,” says ECOEST Programing and Communications coordinator Sarah Spies. “But it’s still an evolving program. This is the first year we’ve done as much collaboration and mentorship as we’ve done. And I think it’s worked pretty well.”


The program officially started back in October when 5th and 9th grade students from six different districts got together to partner up and receive mentorship.


“They got to go in workshops with professional authors and a professional illustrator, and then they got to partner, a 5th grade author with a 5th grade illustrator and a 9th grade author with a 9th grade illustrator, and started brainstorming a story,” says Spies. “They’ve all turned in a story that they wrote between October and January. If they turned it in before January 10th, they were eligible for our competition. If they turned it in after January 10th, they could still come and get it workshopped.”


Winning Dover Ave. illustrator, Jack Jennings says he joined the program after being nominated by a teacher. 


“My art teacher nominated me. I’m in the 5th grade and I love to drawing,” Jennings says. “I like to draw an assortment of things; I like to take inspiration from things that are already there, and draw it in my own perspective of things.”


The overarching theme of the day seemed to be collaboration, with the 9th grades pulling double duty as mentors to their 5th grade counterparts.


“I’ve always loved writing, my whole life, and getting to compete at writing was a fun opportunity," says Dover high school freshman author, Belle Fockler. “I liked having someone to mentor, and I liked getting feedback from them too.”


Spies also touches on the collaborative element of the event, both between students and with the ECO’s partnership with Kent State University at Tuscarawas.


“A lot of students had a lot of really great things to say. They talked a little bit about their process, about what it was like to work with a partner. So this collaborative effort really felt like it worked,” says Spies. “And this has been a really great partnership with Kent State University at Tuscarawas. They’ve always been great partners to us with this program, and we’re just very thankful for their partnership.”


Students competed in ‘Best Story,’ ‘Best Illustration,’ and ‘Best Overall,’ with the 5th grade winners receiving scholarships to College for Kids and 9th grade winners receiving scholarships to KSU Tusc. The winners are as follows.


5th grade
Best overall: "Clouds for '84" by Hadley Sanders, illustrated by Jack Jennings
Best Story: "The Haunted Night" by Kylie Smith
Best Illustrations: "Beach Kittens" Illustrated by Gretta McNutt and "Secret Keys" Illustrated by Drayden Moffett


9th grade
Best overall: "The Growth" by Cassidy Loos, illustrated by Nathaniel Demuth
Best Story: "Rise of the Druid King" by Brooke Brand 
Best Illustrations: "The Ingenuous Lam" Illustrated by Danika Rudder

For more information on The Young Authors and Illustrators program or the ECOEST contact Sarah Spies at