Posted: Friday, May 09, 2008

KUAC/AlaskaOne received entries from around the state for the 14th annual Reading Rainbow Young Writers & Illustrators Contest. Former state legislator and current Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker presented awards to first-, second- and third-place Alaska winners on May 6 in Fairbanks. Students, their families and their teachers will participate via video teleconference from Anchorage, Juneau and Sitka.

Southeast winners were as follows: For the First Grade category, "Officer Chicken Wing" by Dylan Schaffnit, of Sitka, won first place; "Trees Come Alive" by Calvin Fenner, of Sitka, won second; and "Friends Forever" by Lauren Pickard, of Sitka, won third. For the Third Grade category, "My Grandfather" by Nathanial Watt, of Juneau, won second place.

"The students take pride in their accomplishments and feel a sense of ownership in their stories," said Tony Conforti, a first-grade teacher at Baranof Elementary in Sitka. "This year our school librarian is including our books in our school library. My class is really excited about the idea of other students checking out the books that they have written."

This is the seventh year Conforti's first grade class has participated in the contest.

Each child who enters the contest receives a special certificate signed by program host LeVar Burton. Entries of the four first-place winners have automatically been entered in the national level of the contest and will compete with winners from around the country. National winners will be announced later this summer.

For more information contact Tammy Tragis-McCook at 907-474-1890 or

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