WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Najla Nassar, a seventh grader at Mount Greylock Regional School, won the 30th annual Berkshire County Writing Contest for her entry, "A Powerful Force," which describes the experience and determination of a girl learning to play football in Physical Education class.
Seventh-grader Najla Nassar won the Berkshire County Writing Contest at Nessacus Regional Middle School for her entry, "A Powerful Force."
"I believe [this award] was a jump-start and sign that my writing will take me a long way in life," Nassar said. "This competition was a doorway that I just needed to walk through."
Nassar was one of 68 seventh grade students from Berkshire County to enter the competition this year, which was held at Nessacus Regional Middle School in Dalton on April 27.
Mount Greylock English teacher Liza Barrett and student teacher Caitlin Powers organized a competition at Mount Greylock in order to select students for the countywide contest. Thirty-three seventh graders entered this competition. Anonymous entries from these students were read by another English teacher, and then seven students were chosen to go to the Berkshire County Writing Contest with Barrett and Powers.
At the Berkshire County Contest, students were prompted to respond in two pages or less to the topic "That Undeniable Desire," by describing "a time when that desire inside you to explore new boundaries of your passion could not be thwarted." Six teachers from across Berkshire County judged student entries, which included fiction and non-fiction. An excerpt from Nassar's essay follows:
"The gym floor surrounded me as I curled my hair around my fingers. I stared blankly at the ground and listened as a faint sound echoed in my head. Abruptly, I glanced up to make sure I heard the word correctly. 'Our new unit is Football = America's Sport,' my teacher told us, excitement and joy spreading across his face. Football. I pondered the word. I thought of muscular men in uncomfortable gear...I remembered that I had never cared for such a sport. But as I rose up to start throwing, I told myself that I would give it my best effort. My throw was terribly inaccurate and weak. I sighed, my face rosy red, blushing from embarrassment. But I knew that I would work on it; I knew that football had not seen the last of me."
"There are so many competitions in academics, athletics, and the arts, but there aren't many chances for students who love to write to get their voices out in a larger setting, apart from the Berkshire County Writing Contest," Barrett said. "I love taking students to this competition because this is their day to do what they love to do."