Shady Side second-grader has the write stuff


The first-place trophy Christine Morris held was nearly as big as the second-grade Shady Side Elementary School student.

But Christine, shifting the weight of the heavy trophy, didn't seem to mind.

"I'm not sure where I'm going to put it," she said.

Not to worry. Christine's father, Joseph Morris, said she could put the trophy "anyplace she wants to."

Christine was among students who took first, second and third place in four categories -- kindergarten through second grade, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12 -- of the "Maryland You Are Beautiful Student Literacy Writing Competition."

Over 170,000 Maryland students, from private and public schools representing all 23 counties and Baltimore City, entered the contest. In its fourth year, the theme of this year's contest was "Say no to drugs. Say yes to family. Say yes to education. Say yes to non-violence."

Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who presented the winners with their trophies, told the students the anti-drug messages they presented in their essays were important not only to them, but to their classmates who may be influenced by peer pressure.

"You really don't have to take drugs," Schaefer said. "Just because someone else does it doesn't make them a big person. It makes them a bad person."

Schaefer told the winners they should consider themselves role models for other students. He also encouraged them to keep writing.

"When you're able to write, that's the best thing you can do," Schaefer said. "Who knows, someday you may be a member of the press -- heaven forbid."

All 170,000 students who entered the contest received discounted tickets to King's Dominion Theme Park, one of the sponsors. Second- and third-place winners received a mounted copy of their essay, passes to King's Dominion, a trophy, and a bag filled with a T-shirt, caps, a stuffed animal and a water bottle.

The first-place winners received everything second- and third-place winners received, plus a weekend for four, including food, lodging and tours, in Annapolis and eight complimentary passes to King's Dominion.

The winners also had the opportunity to read their winning essays before the governor, their family, friends and Scooby Doo and Yogi Bear.

Christine read her essay on Penny the Pencil, who became addicted to being sharpened until she could be sharpened no more.

"Penny helped me finish my homework and when I was done, I sharpened her," Christine wrote. "She said that it felt good, and she danced around wasting her lead so she could get sharpened again.

"I decided to keep her in a jar, but she still broke her tip and asked to be sharpened. Penny was addicted to being sharpened," Christine wrote.

Christine said she came up with her idea for Penny the Pencil while writing an essay for another contest. An avid journal writer, Christine said she plans to enter the contest again next year.

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