Mountain Vista kids wow out of town judges in writing contest

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By John Hernandez

On Tuesday, April 2, 2013, the First Writing Contest at Mt. Vista School was held in the cafeteria. Organizers are hoping to make this an annual event.

This year students read their poetry in front of their classmates and a panel of judges made up of published authors. Mt. Vista students in fourth through eighth grade writing class each wrote a poem. The two best poets from each class were then selected for the poetry contest. There were 18 finalists in the fourth, fifth and sixth grade group and eight finalists in the seventh and eighth grade group.

Monika Bond, fifth grade writing teacher, was the organizer of the event and is the Chairman of the Writing Committee.

The five judges volunteered their time and traveled from out of town for the event. Four came from Tucson and one traveled from Tempe. The judges were:

Tom Walker – Tom is a native Arizonan and is a retired journalist. He worked for the Arizona Daily Star /Citizen for 30 years. He wrote a novel with his sister, Mary Walker, about ranch life, titled “Contrary Creek”. You can learn more about Tom and his book at

Bridget Magee – Bridget is a former teacher and school librarian. She has had poems published in anthologies and magazines. She has won awards for her poetry through the Arizona State Poetry Society. She has a poem of the month feature in East Tucson Macaroni Kid Publication. Her poetry blog has a daily children’s poem. You can visit the site at

Linda Exley – Linda is an award winning writer, journalist and editor. She has worked for well known parenting magazines such as Arizona Parenting, Houston Parent, and San Tan Sun News. She co-founded KIDS Can Publish University which conducts presentations at schools and conference to excite children about writing. They are a division of Little Five Star Publications, Inc. which a publishing company that prints books by or for kids that promotes tolerance, kindness, character and love. Linda’s 11 year old son published a book entitled, The Student from Zombie Island. Linda and Little Five Star donated copies of Linda’s book Arizona Way Out West and Wacky to the first, second and third place winners. They also donated bookmarks, t-shirts, and pencils to the finalists and winners. The six winning poems of the Mt. Vista Writing Contest will be published on Lynda’s website:

Frank Babb – Frank is a former teacher and lawyer. He attended Harvard Law School and served with Army Counter Intelligence during the Cold War. He used some his military experiences as inspiration for his fictional book Hot Times in Panama. You can learn more about Frank and his book at

Ethel Lee-Miller – Ethel is a native New Yorker now living in Tucson where she is active in the Arizona writing community. Her first book was about the “magical relationship” of being an identical twin, entitled Thinking of Miller Place: A Memoir of Summer Comfort. She will soon have another book out, The 3 R’s – Relationships, Remarriage, and Retirement, a compilation of humorous personal essays and character sketches of local Tucsonans. Ethel donated multiple copies of this book to the students.

The winners of the Mountain Vista Writing Contest and the name of their poems were:

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth Grades

Honorable Mention:

Nastacia Jackson – Beautiful Oak

Angelina Tilley – Green Trees

Marcus Peru – Rollercoaster

Makayla Martin – Lonely Dove

First Place: Nathaniel Benavidez – Fall

Second Place: Isabella Juvera – I Am the Ocean

Third Place: Isabella Benavidez – Puppies

Seventh, Eighth Grades

Honorable Mention:

Adrian Cabrera – Storm

Lissy Smith – Dark Light

Cody Bradley – The Cloudy Day

First Place: Jade Mork – Eight

Second Place: Samantha Keilman – The Dancer

Third Place: Hannah Nehrmeyer

Monika Bond would like to thank and acknowledge the following people who made the 2013 Writing Contest a success: The Writing Committee, Jenny Kime, Janie Sanchez, Darlean Cavanaugh, Kristen Moreno, Tech Team, Maintenance Team, Mr. Blauser, PTO, Judges Ethel Miller and Lynda Exley for their donations, Cafeteria Staff, and Benny Parra.

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