June 4, 2021
Second grader named writing contest finalist
An Upper St. Clair second grader is one of 26 finalists in the 2021 WQED Writers Contest. Eight-year-old Sarah Sakowitz’s story, “Happy Foods,” was selected from among nearly 700 entries from throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and Delaware.
The public is invited to vote for the “Reader’s Choice Winner” from June 17-24. All finalists’ stories will be available to read and listen to via WQED’s Writers Contest page at www.writeonkids.org.
Sarah’s story is about a neighborhood gang of foods in search of a fun adventure. The inspiration for her story stems from a YouTube video and her Rainbow Loom kit.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, I got a Rainbow Loom kit and started creating bracelets and necklaces. Then I found out that I could make small charms with it too,” Sarah said. “One day, I was looking for a charm to make and I found a video on YouTube that taught me how to make ‘Happy Foods.’ I made so many Happy Foods. Now I can loom and crochet lots of 3D objects with my Rainbow Loom rubber bands. I would say I'm an expert loomer now.”
This year marks the third consecutive year that Sarah has been named a finalist in the WQED Writers Contest. Her 2020 story, "The Girl with the Most Beautiful Smile," placed second and her 2019 story, “The Dragonfly That Lived,” finished third.
“The best part about being a finalist in the WQED Writers Contest is that I get to share my stories with my family, friends, teachers, classmates and the whole Upper St. Clair community,” Sarah said. “It's an honor knowing that copies of my other winning stories are in the Streams School library. Now anyone can check out my book and perhaps be inspired to write their own story.”
In addition to writing, she has earned honors for artwork through the school district’s annual Arts In USC contest – finishing first among the district’s second-graders in 2020-21, first among first-graders in her school in 2019-20, and second among the district’s kindergarten students in 2018-19.
Sarah is a student in Lauren Bogus’s class at Streams Elementary School. Her favorite authors are Roald Dahl and Mo Willems. When she’s not doing school work, writing/illustrating stories, or looming, she takes ballet lessons and participates in Girl Scouts and Y-Princesses.
“I have lots of fun with my Girl Scout troop and I really like to go camping with my dad and other Y-Princesses,” Sarah said
Winners of 2021 Writers Contest will be announced at a virtual winners’ celebration and awarded prizes including the opportunity to record their winning story. Their recordings will be broadcast on iQKidsRadio.org and featured on Saturday Light Brigade (SLB) Radio in the summer of 2021. K-5 and STEM winners’ stories will be made into an original puppet show, which will be shown at the Virtual Celebration by Pittsburgh Puppet Works.
Entries were judged on creativity and originality of plot and/or themes; story structure and use of literary devices; and relevance, quality and originality of illustration.
The 2021 Finalists include:
Courtney Chin, Arcadia, CA
Dhilan Duggal, Wexford
Joshua Joseph, Sewickley
Aaban Mahmood, Coraopolis
Lilianne Amber, Uniontown
Jacob Anderson, Bethel Park
Anvita Mishra, Lancaster
Liliana Saxon, Uniontown
Anahita Bagchi, Chesterbrook
Vivian Petrich, State College
Sarah Sakowitz, Upper St. Clair
Ava Jean Slezak, Bridgeville
Rocco Vergerio, Tarentum
Crystal Clydesdale, Venetia
Sophia Pedreira, Whippany, NJ
Emily Siegnist, Mt. Carmel
Emma M. Valotta, Venetia
Harinee Adivarahan, Chandler, AZ
Olivia Anderson, Bethel Park
Arjun Kairi, Pittsburgh
Hadia Kashif, Carnegie
Coleman Yengst, Allentown
Sage Mahan, Valencia
Michael Novotnak, McDonald
Samantha Siegrist, Mt. Carmel
Gia Vresko, Saxonburg