Students show the write stuff

Fifth-grader Carson Stehling read her literary-magazine poem aloud Friday at The Cooper School, whose students won the first-place award for a student-produced magazine from the South Carolina Independent School Association.

Wade Spees

Students at The Cooper School in West Ashley have a way with words, and a first-place award to prove it, thanks to the S.C. Independent School Association’s recognition of their literary magazine.

The association holds an annual contest for schools to submit student writing in a variety of categories.

The school on Oakdale Place entered the contest for the first time this year and took home the top award in the magazine category with its collection of student-produced poetry, the school’s Associate Director Franci Ollard said.

“Pass It On” was created in 2008, Ollard said. The magazine is published each year in April.

School officials gathered the students in an assembly Friday afternoon and playfully asked the children if they had any idea whose publication had been named the best in the state.

“They picked us?” one little boy asked.

“They chose the writing that you did and the book that we published — and that we have published for five years now — and the remarkable, colorful words that you were able to craft into such incredible, delightful, funny, sometimes sad, sometimes tragic, imaginative and creative poems,” the school’s founding director, Kate Shorter, told the group.

SCISA Executive Director Larry K. Watt presented the award.

Plaque in hand and facing a room filled with about 60 smiling, young faces, Watt told the children that the judges were blown away by the maturity level displayed in their writing.

“Literary magazines are very important because they give us an insight into the writing of young people and what our great schools are doing to foster that writing,” Watt said.

The students recently performed poetry readings at the Charleston County Public Library, Ollard said. All proceeds from the literary magazine’s sales will be donated to Mercy Ships, an international charity that provides medical care for port cities in underdeveloped countries, she said.

A few students read their poems aloud Friday, including 8-year-old Kase Langston, who penned a piece that ironically expressed his inability to write poetry. The poem’s conclusion, “Oh, I just wrote poetry,” was met with cheers and laughter.

“I didn’t know it would be that funny,” Kase said afterward.

Fifth-grader Carson Stehling, 10, said she grew to love writing when she transferred to The Cooper School after a stint in public school.

“I was a little bit unaccustomed to poetry when I first came, but as the years progressed I really came to like poetry,” Carson said.

Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at