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Maine Community College System--News Release

Authors pick "Young Writers of the Year"

Thursday, May 26, 2005

CONTACT: Alice Kirkpatrick
Tel: (207) 767-0116, ext. 3

HALLOWELL, Maine—Three Maine high school juniors - Isla Hansen of Lewiston, Matt Powers of Harpswell and Matthew Gleason of Freeport - were picked as the Governor’s Young Writers of the Year today by authors Stephen King, Tabitha King and Richard Russo. The authors served as judges for the Maine Community College System’s “Journey Into Writing” program, a statewide contest open to all high school juniors in Maine.

The authors joined Governor John E. Baldacci and sponsors of the contest at a luncheon ceremony today to announce the three winners and honor the 13 semifinalists. The students came from around the state with family members and teachers to attend the event at Maple Hill Farm in Hallowell.

Maine Community College System President John Fitzsimmons hosted the event. Education Commissioner Susan Gendron gave brief remarks and announced the winners. Also attending were representatives of the program sponsors: the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram,, Central Maine Power Company, and U.S. Cellular.

Isla Hansen, a student at Lewiston High School, won for her story “Fiddler Boy.” Matt Powers, who lives in Harpswell and attends North Yarmouth Academy, won for his story “Seaweed.” Matthew Gleason from Freeport High School won for his story “Out of Left Field.”

Along with earning the title “Governor’s Young Writer of the Year,” each of the three winners received a check for $2,500.

“We are so fortunate to have students like this in our state,” said Governor Baldacci. “When I see young people trying hard in school and life, I know our state is going to be in good shape in the future,” he said.

Stephen King and Richard Russo each spoke about the students’ work and the craft of writing. “Every one of you has imaginative ability, able to take someone through the page and into your mind. It’s a remarkable ability if you’re willing to work and take it to the next level,” said King.

While commending the students, King also stressed that writing is a learning process that never ends. “I’m a student of writing today. We’re all amateurs at this, every time we sit down to the computer. I’m always trying to learn my craft.”

In a lighter note, King talked about the business of writing stories for a living: “Think about it. People brought you here today and paid you money to sit down and goof at your computer! How cool is that?!" He urged the students to “keep hold of the fun and keep doing what you’re doing.”

Richard Russo quipped, “Every single one of you writes better than I did at your age. But, I write better than a couple of you now.”  He commended the students for taking a risk. "It takes a lot of courage to put yourselves down on paper, and then to be evaluated and judged.”

The three winning students had stiff competition. In all, 420 high school juniors from 103 Maine high schools submitted short stories, essays and poems for the contest.

According to MCCS President John Fitzsimmons, the response to the contest was so positive it will be run again next year. All high school juniors and home-schooled students of comparable age were eligible to submit entries of up to 1500 words. The semifinalists were selected by a review committee from the Maine Community College System.

The stories of the three winners will be printed in full this Sunday, May 29th, in the Maine Sunday Telegram. The names and submissions of all 13 semifinalists can be viewed online at 20 Below, and the contest Web site at

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