In an era when much of our written communication involves Tweets of 140 characters or fewer and text messages that disregard grammar and celebrate misspelled words for their efficiency, it’s encouraging that some youngsters care deeply about writing.

Earlier this month, Gov. Paul LePage saluted the talents of three Maine high school juniors selected as winners in “A Journey Into Writing,” an annual contest of the Maine Community College System.

Each winner — Charles Baker of Freeport High School and Julia Maine and Sarah Mulcahy, both of Greely High School in Cumberland — received a cash prize of $2,500 and was presented with a Young Writer of the Year award.

The students wrote personal, first-person accounts of an important life experience.

Baker used his family’s wood stove as a metaphor to relate the death of his mother from cancer this past winter. Baker has filled the stove with wood all his life, and grew up resenting the chore. His perspective changed when his mom became ill, because she cherished her time in front of the stove and the warmth it brought.

“As the nights grew colder, we all congregated by the stove for comfort,” Baker wrote. “My mom would have to be moved in from the living room couch with assistance, for she could no longer walk freely.”


Mulcahy wrote about her job at a local cafe. “My feet hurt, but the amount of your wages can always be found on the arches of your feet,” she wrote.

And Maine related a harrowing sail she made shrouded in fog. “The journey was not very long, but it was treacherous. We may not have been faced with life or death, but each of us gained some insight from the experience,” she wrote. “We had been young and alone at sea; all we had to keep us afloat were our wits.”

The writing contest began in 2004 and is sponsored by the Maine Community College System with corporate support. This year’s contest drew 205 entries from students at 66 high school across the state.

A panel of writers consisting of Maine poet laureate Wesley McNair, Susan Kenney and Lewis Robinson judged the contest.

John Fitzsimmons, president of the Maine Community College System, saluted the students for their commitment to writing. “In a world where people increasingly rely on texting and Tweeting to communicate and connect, it’s important to support, promote and cherish the power of thoughtfully written words to tell a story and share ideas,” he said.

LePage agreed. “These students are shining examples of the future of our state,” the governor said.


Indeed, they also offer hope for the sanctity of complete sentences, good grammar and proper spelling. 

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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