Five Nueva students are among the twenty-six middle and high school students from around the United States and abroad whose short stories won acclaim in a local creative writing contest. The annual Leyla Beban Young Authors Foundation $1,000 for 1,000 Words contest challenges students in grades six through twelve to write a piece of fiction in exactly 1,000 words.
Entries this year came from as far away as India and South Korea. Stories go through several rounds in order to reach the finals, and the Editorial Committee spends a full afternoon discussing the pool of finalist stories before naming the winners and honorable mentions. From the winning groups of three middle school stories and four high school stories, a guest judge chooses one $1,000 scholarship winner from middle school and one from high school. This year's guest judge was Lewis Buzbee, author of numerous books, including Steinbeck's Ghost and Bridge of Time. Over 3,400 stories have been entered over the four-year span of the contest and more than a hundred young writers have been honored. This year's Bluefire Journal can be purchased at the Kepler's award ceremony on April 30, or on the foundation's website, Bluefire.org.
Sixth grader Sophia E. won the grade level prize for her story, "In the Rubble of War," and her classmate Sam K. won honorable mention for "Carry Me." Seventh graders Charlotte B. ("Being Okay") and Maya A. ("He Whose Eyes Cut Like Knives") also won honorable mention. Justin S,-L. (grade 11) won honorable mention for his science fiction tale, "The Cabinet." Their stories will be published in the 2017 Bluefire Journal, the foundation's literary journal, and the authors will be honored at an awards ceremony at Kepler’s bookstore in Menlo Park on April 30. Local writers Lindsay Tam Holland and Lewis Buzbee will speak at the event.
Seven other Nueva students also made it to the finalist pool — the top sixty-four stories of over 630 entries this year. These included John C. for "Good-bye" and Riyana S. for "Hope Unchained" in the sixth grade group. Seventh grader Holden J. was recognized for "A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words," as was Molly C. for her story, "The Meaning of Life," and William V. for his mind-bending "B842." Andrew C. was a finalist for his story, "Windows to the World"; he was published in last year's Bluefire Journal. Senior Meera S. was a finalist for "Strides."
The Leyla Beban Young Authors Foundation was started by Marc and Jessica Beban in memory of their daughter, Leyla, who attended Nueva from sixth to eighth grade. Leyla was a talented creative writer who hoped to become a published author. Her legacy lives on in the contest, which reaches writers across the world.
April 7, 2017