Turner Center Announces Winners in “The Art of Writing Contest”

Staff Report

Thursday, March 30th, 2023

Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts and its Young Writers League (YoWL) hosted the third annual Art of Writing Contest sponsored by Guardian Bank, Greater Valdosta United Way, Valdosta Daily Times, and Snake Nation Press. Middle and high school students in Valdosta, south Georgia, and the surrounding areas were invited to participate in the contest. More than 200 submissions were received based on this year’s theme “I Have a Dream.”

“The Turner Center for the Arts is pleased to host this annual Art of Writing competition and are pleased the participation from students across our region and beyond,” said Executive Director Sementha Mathews. “Young people who possess good writing skills will often become better communicators in other areas of expression. Our goal for all of our youth programs is to enrich and education our young people through the arts, and we congratulate the brave students who embraced this opportunity.”

Contest winners received more than $2,500 in cash prizes and, in May 2023, will receive a copy of the anthology, which includes the works of the winners and all honorable mentions. Winners and honorable mentions of the 2023 “Art of Writing” contest are as follows:


Mia Villanueva, Valdosta Middle School — 1st place
Leah Sinclair, St. John’s Catholic School – 2nd place
Scarlette Gomez Parra, Valdosta Early College Academy – 3rd place
Sara Daugharty, Valwood School – honorable mention

Emmerson Shiver, Lowndes Middle School — 1st place
Michaelah Ferguson, Valdosta Early College Academy – 2nd place
Anaiah Powell. Powell Homeschool Academy – 3rd place
Beth Morris, Lanier County Middle School – honorable mention

Souad Dennis, St. John’s Catholic School — 1st place
Carolyn Griner, Valwood School – 2nd place
Ashlynn Divoll, Eighth Street Middle School – 3rd place
Hayvyn Forrest, Valdosta Early College Academy – honorable mention
Kreea Chakraborty, Valwood School – honorable mention


Ray Moody, Valdosta High School — 1st place
Patrick Wallace, Valdosta High School – 2nd place
Fletcher Adams, Valdosta High School – 3rd place
Takshkumar Patel; Valdosta High School – honorable mention

Hudson Hsu, Valwood School – 1st place
Lauren Pickett, Georgia Connections Academy – 2nd place
Cadence Bellant, Lowndes High School – 3rd place
Amelia Nutting, Valdosta High School – honorable mention

Jessica Mohanty, Valdosta High School – 1st place
MaKenzie Alexander, Lowndes High School – 2nd place
Khalandrea Council, Valdosta Early College Academy – 3rd place
Erin Yoo, Lowndes High School – honorable mention

The contest was judged by volunteers from Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, Valdosta State University, The Valdosta Daily Times, and other local writers. The Turner Center thanks Dean Poling, Jim Zachary, Adam Setser, Matt Flummerfelt, Dr. Eric Blix, Dr. Deborah Hall, Dr. Adam Wood, Dr. Ryan Wander, Dr. Emma Kostopolus, Michael Antonoff, Miriam Jackson, Unoma Azuah, and Dr. Cheryl Carvajal for their critical contribution to the Art of Writing contest.

"We are so pleased with both the number of entrants and the quality of the entries," said Carvajal. "We can only hope that next year's contest includes such a creative and meaningful collection from middle and high school writers in all our local schools."

YoWL, led by Carvajal, allows students to express themselves through written word, improve their writing skills, and pursue authorship with contests like “The Art of Writing.” Classes currently take place via the Discord app and are open to writers ages 12-17. The Writer’s League for ages 18+ also meets through the Discord app, with face-to-face meeting dates to be announced. The Discord app, as well as the YoWL and Writer’s League programs, are free.

The deadline for next year’s Art of Writing contest is January 15, 2024. Full details on the 4th annual contest, including a theme, will be released by the beginning of the 2023/2024 school year. For more information, call 229.247.2787 or visit turnercenter.org.