Winners of Oak Park Writer's Group high school competition

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By Community Editor

The Oak Park Writers Group has announced the 2012 winners of its Second Annual High School Creative Prose and Poetry Competition for students enrolled at Trinity, Fenwick, and Oak Park and River Forest high schools. This year all of the winners are Oak Park and River Forest High School students.

Winners are:

  • Christopher J. Calhoun won first place in the junior/senior prose division with his short story, "Peer Pressure."
  • Ian Buckley won second prize in the junior/senior prose division with his short story, "Dystopian Earth," third prize in the junior/senior prose division with his "Journal of a Cat and a Dog," and first prize in the junior/senior poetry division with his poem, "Pants, Sweet Pants."
  • Jesse Cornman won second prize in the junior/senior poetry division with his poem, "Six Year Old Hands," and third prize in the junior/senior poetry division with his poem, "For."

The winning prose entry and all three poems will be included in the writers group's annual anthology, "Keystrokes," published each November. In addition, all the winners will be invited to attend the Oak Park Writers Group's Sixth Formal Public Reading Event, Writers Read! on Nov. 8 in the Veterans Room of Oak Park's Main Library to receive their award certificates. The first place winners will also be encouraged to read their work.

Christopher Calhoun wrote, illustrated and self-published his first book for children, "Heartland," at age 10. He created his own publishing company, Rainbow Publishing Inc., to print and distribute it. "The purpose of my book is to inspire, educate and motivate other young people so they can become young authors and make their dreams of writing a reality," he said. Last year he completed a second book, an e book, "Secret of the Untold Spirits."

An honor student, he's been asked to speak publicly numerous times and his works have appeared in several newspapers. He's also involved in the high school's Spoken Word program.
He says he goes to church every Sunday, likes gospel music and is a member of the Inspirational Choir and Faith Drill team. He says he also likes Hip Hop and enjoys chess, bowling and playing the baritone saxophone.

When asked about college and career plans, Ian Buckley, who won awards in the Oak Park Writers' Group competition in both the prose and poetry categories, says "I'm pretty sure I want to do something pertaining to English. I've thought about writing for a newspaper, preferably some sort of humor column because that's always been my favorite kind of writing." He has contributed to the school newspaper in the past and expects to be a full contributor next year.

But recently he's discovered another outlet for his talent – music. He's been playing for three years and says it's become a large part of his life. He says he spends much of his free time playing guitar. He also says he really likes movies and television.

Although honor student Jesse Cornman is a poet and musician, he says he thinks he'd like to pursue computer engineering when he gets to college. He's in the Robotics Club at Oak Park River Forest High School . His team created a bioelectric (muscle voltage), thought-controlled robotic arm that won both regional and state competitions, according to his Facebook profile. This year the team spent an enormous amount of time refining the project and entered it in the prestigious International Science Fair. He also coaches the Brooks Middle School's Robotics Club team.

This spring he was accepted in the Latin National Honor Society. He plays the viola in the school orchestra, which was named to the Illinois Music Educators Association All-District Band. The orchestra will represent Oak Park River Forest High School at the District Festival in November. He attends First United Church regularly and is one of two junior members of the church council.

The Oak Park Writers' Group meets in the second floor Book Discussion Room of the Oak Park Main Library, 834 Lake St. the first Thursday of every month from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Writers will share their work and discuss it with the group. Writers and non-writers are welcome.

The Writers' Group also sponsors a Second Sunday Open Mic, a free performing venue, the second Sunday of every month from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Eastgate Café, 102 Harrison St. in Oak Park . Poets, story tellers, acoustic musicians, comedians, playwrights, singers and dancers are all welcome to perform.

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