Shaler boy recognized in PBS Kids Writers Contest
Connor Smith is not yet out of primary school, but already he is an author.
Connor, 8, of Shaler Township, won third place in the second-grade division of the national PBS Kids Writers Contest for his nine-page story “Seeds from Space.”
Connor, who will be a third-grader at Marzolf Primary School this fall, is one of two Pennsylvania students to be recognized in the national contest.
“We're really excited and proud of his accomplishment,” said Jaime Smith, Connor's mother.
Connor has participated in the regional contest held through WQED since he was in kindergarten. In his kindergarten year, Connor won an honorable mention for his story “Mr. Tree's Story.” This year, Connor won first place in the regional contest for “Seeds from Space,” which entered him in the national contest.
“It's a way for him to express his ideas and also complete a larger-scale project that is thought provoking, and lets him hone in on his writing skills,” Smith said of Connor participating in the contest. “It's something that he also enjoys doing, the whole process of illustrating and layout and writing, how the text is going to go (on the page) and how the picture will help out the text.
“He really has learned how to make a book in the past three years thorough this writing contest.”
“Seeds from Space” follows the story about a classroom of students who plant seeds that had been to space and back, which was inspired by a news article on the same subject that Connor's grandmother read to him.
“It just popped into my mind,” Connor said of the story. “(They didn't) grow like normal tomatoes they grew into living tomatoes. They tried to take over the whole school.”
In Connor's story, the entire school comes together to capture the tomatoes in the cafeteria workers' hair nets.
The WQED Writers Contest is one of the signature programs of iQ: smartmedia, WQED's educational initiative, and has been participating in the national PBS Kids Writers Contest for the past 20 years.
In the past five years, the regional contest has received more than 7,000 entries from students in kindergarten through third grade.
Jennifer Stancil, executive director of educational partnerships, said she and her staff are “ecstatic” about having two national winners chosen from WQED's regional contest. Nikolai Nawrocki, 5, of Wayne, Delaware County, won first place in the kindergarten division.
This is the third consecutive year WQED has celebrated having two local winners who placed nationally.
“We are absolutely so thrilled for all the kids,” Stancil said.
Stancil said WQED hosts the contest to help students reach learning goals in literacy and expression and also build self-confidence in writing and telling stories.
Regional winners had the opportunity to read their stories on iQ Kids Radio, a collaboration between WQED and The Saturday Light Brigade. The regional winners also have the characters from their stories translated into puppets and performed in a puppet show at the Three Rivers Arts Fest and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Summer Reading Extravaganza.
“We take these stories very seriously,” Stancil said. “They are essentially gifts to us in this office every March. … They are works of art to us.”
Connor will be recognized on Aug. 7 by the WQED executive board.
Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Photo Gallery: Catholic Schools Week in McCandless
- Photo Gallery: Catholic Schools Week in Ross
- Photo gallery: Northland library’s Family Fun Night
- Photo Gallery: Chinese New Year celebration at Orchard Hill Church
- Kean Quest Talent Search kicks off Feb. 6 on Richland stage
- North Hills vocal instructor pushes students to the top
- Hampton senior turns potato chip bags into strapless dress
- Ross residents still question revised residential plan
- St. Athanasius center’s first coordinator hands duties over
- Shaler grad pens poems on time served in Vietnam
- Sain’s spirit, positive outlook to be honored at annual race in North Park