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Nordonia Hills -- A half dozen Nordonia Middle School students have shown in recent weeks that if they have a pen in hand, they will know what to do with it.
The team brought a first-place trophy back from in this year's regional Power of the Pen competition at Kent State University Feb. 23 and won first place in a district competition at Akron's St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in January.
"They have probably come in first place one or two other times, but it's been awhile," said middle school teacher Debbie Scheip, one of two team faculty advisors.
"The kids are ecstatic," said teacher Jan Tylicki, who is in her eighth year as Scheip's co-advisor.
Scheip, who has served as a Power of the Pen advisor at the middle school for more than 20 years, said she does not recall the seventh-grade team ever winning first place at both the district and regional competition in the same year.
Two team members, Holly Ross and Kendra Lippincott, individually won medals after they came in seventh and eighth place respectively among about 75 seventh graders who competed at the regional event.
Other team members include Aliza Rivera, Jackie Wendel, Rachel Hayes and Emma Fulton, with Kourtney DelGiudice and Quinn Maynard representing the eighth-grade class.
Scheip said she expects the school will also be represented at the Power of the Pen's state competition at the College of Wooster May 23 and 24.
"I'm 100 percent certain that some of them will be in the state competition, but I'm not sure which ones," she said, adding that the uncertainty is due to a complicated scoring system.
Power of the Pen competitions involve three rounds. Each student competes in each round against five students in the same grade from five different schools. Students do not compete against the same students in every round. In each round, the students are given a topic and have to write an off-the-cuff story that incorporates it.
"These are creative stories, so the kids have to make them up and they only have 40 minutes to do it," said Scheip.
Topics at the regional competition included "Gift Exchange" and "911, What is Your Emergency." Tylicki said she is amazed by what the students were able to come up with, especially since they had so little time to think about it.
"The kids are so creative. They're all over the place," she said.