This year, over 500 students from across the state participated in the SC State Library's Young Minds Dreaming Contest.
Every year, all South Carolina students in grades 3 through 12 are encouraged to submit a poem to the contest based on a specific theme. The 2019 theme was "imagining what you can do."
Winners of the contest were invited to attend an awards ceremony and to meet a special guest poet at the State Library. The guest poet for this year's event was renowned poet Juan Felipe Herrera. Herrera is the 21st United States Poet Laureate (2015-2017) and the first Latino to have the honor. According to the Library of Congress, the duty of the country's poet laureate is to seek "to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry." He also served as the California State Poet Laureate from 2012 to 2014. Mr. Herrera has also published over 30 books, and in 2018 wrote "Imagine" to encourage young readers to envison all the things they can do in the future.
The awards ceremony takes place in April each year in honor of National Poetry Month, which was started in 1996 by the American Academy of Poets to recognize the importance of poetry.
Eleven poets from the state literary community were selected as judges for the competition to choose first, second and third place winners from each of the three age groups.
This year's winners are:
Group One - Grades 3-5
1st Place - Lucy Nicka, 4th grade - Coosa Elementary School, Beaufort, S.C.
2nd Place - Kalila O'Quinn, 5th grade - Tall Pines STEM Academy, Aiken, S.C.
3rd Place - Regan Matthews, 5th grade - Cross Schools, Bluffton, S.C.
Group Two - Grades 6-8
1st Place - Brant Miller, 8th grade - Homeschool student, Columbia, S.C.
2nd Place - Kaylee Chen, 8th grade - Dutch Fork Middle School, Irmo, S.C.
3rd Place - Elena Richard, 6th grade - Cross Schools, Bluffton, S.C.
Group Three - Grades 9-12
1st Place - Nathan Williams, 11th grade - James F. Byrnes High School, Duncan, S.C.
2nd Place - Ka'Lynn Neal, 10th grade - McCormick High School, McCormick, S.C.
3rd Place - Avery Nichols, 10th grade - James F. Byrnes High School, Duncan, S.C.