The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

Creative Writing Contest winners: Live reading at the Barber Library

Ella Huggin (Photo by Benjamin Enyart)

Central Oregon Community College held its second annual writing contest this Spring with the largest number of submissions to date. Some of the winners and members of the COCC humanities department will be reading their submissions on June 9 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Barber Library in the North Oregon Room. Everyone is encouraged to attend the event as an energizing way to celebrate the writing being done at COCC. Contestants’ entries will be available to read on the Humanities department website after the reading. All winners received a gift certificate to Roundabout Books in Bend.

Ella Huggin: First place in nonfiction

Ella Huggin won first prize in the nonfiction section with an entry discussing the use of psychedelics for treating anxiety and depression. Her inspiration stems from a family member that struggled with comorbid conditions and has not responded to traditional treatments. 

Huggin is concerned with correcting stigmas surrounding mental health and use of non-traditional therapy methods like psilocybin in improving quality of life for individuals affected by these disorders. 

“I was interested in looking into alternative therapies that could help my family. Traditional methods and medications just were not helping and physician monitored use of psychedelics are worth considering.This is an argumentative paper. It is my opinion and can be taken with a grain of salt by those who disagree.” 

Huggin is a writing major that is leaving COCC in the fall to attend the American University of Paris, in Paris, France. She plans on continuing her education there and minoring in French.

“Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and write something down. Sometimes the ideas are great, and sometimes they are barely coherent thoughts. My ideas often start out jumbled and no real writing process works for me. I just write things down and organize them later,” she added.

Ashley Morningstar: Second place in nonfiction 

Wearing a bright red fedora and matching red pants, Ashley Morningstar cut a striking figure at the Barber Library. Her submission, “Tentative Fiction: The Illicit Marvels and Reports of Marshall Rommel’s Nazi Loyalty” about the July 20, 1944 coup that was a small part of the larger Valkyrie operation in WWII, took second in the contest.

Ashley Morningstar (Photo by Benjamin Enyart)

Morningstar said her interest in the subject was initially created by what she considered indulgent readings on forums that sometimes resulted in the use of “Nazi” as an insult. This led her to ask the question, “What does it mean to be a Nazi?”  

This question led her to begin researching a subject that would eventually turn into a winning article.

“Initially I was fascinated by the research on Josef Mangele the ‘Angel of Death’ and that led me to wonder about Rommel and wonder about his role in WWII. Was he a good or bad guy?” 

Morningstar offered these writing suggestions; “Go into a paper with an open mind. Don’t have your conclusion already decided when beginning to write a paper. Be concise, show, don’t tell and set the scene so readers can visualize what you are talking about. Be sure to check your sources; many times people cite secondary sources when they should be finding the original source.”  

Morningstar also added, “Don’t be generic. You can’t stand out if you are writing about the same things as everyone else.” 

Sloan Churches: First place in poetry

Poetry can be difficult to interpret. It can require a reader to be attentive to detail. Poems can also consist of long stanzas, fragments, punctuation and rhythm. Though, for some, poetry can be a way to express oneself in a form of literary art. As for Solan Churches, the Poetry Winner of the Student Writing Contest, it did just that. 

Churches is a student at COCC who started writing raps for pleasure last spring. They started to buckle down in wanting to learn about different poets and their style. 

Sloan Churches (Photo courtesy of Sloan Churches)

“I went from casual rapping, to free verse…it was a great outlet for me to express my feelings,” Churches said. 

The title of the winning poem, “Breaking the Bloodline”, talks about going against what is deemed as socially acceptable and leaning into self-determination. “The inspiration was more like a rebellious poem, and to have confidence in yourself,” Churches said. 

Churches is a second year COCC student and plans on moving towards a path in the Arts with their academic future. 

“I want to inspire people, and have them think in a different way.” 

Churches noted that writing good poetry can be as simple as writing down what you want to add to the conversation. 

McKenzie Leary: First place in fiction 

McKenzie Leary (Photo by Benjamin Enyart)

Leary is no stranger to writing accolades. She has won other contests in the past and is currently working on a novel that she hopes to one day get published. She is interning at INCLUDAS Publishing House, which works to publish books by people with disabilities. Leary worked for COCC’s student newspaper, The Broadside, in 2020, and she will be graduating from high school next week with her diploma and an Associate’s degree from COCC. 

McKenzie Leary won first prize in the fiction section of the contest with her submission “A Note on Love.” As an avid romance reader, it is a story about a young woman’s loving friendship with another and complexities that are not discovered until the friend is gone. While Leary explained that the submission is not about her life specifically she said, “Be honest. The best writing comes from drawing on personal experiences to create compelling characters…Writing is a great way to process emotions.”

Leary’s favorite author is Taylor Jenkins Reid. 

“Reid’s characters are complex and nuanced,” she said. “It is something I try to do in my own writing.” Her writing tip was to “be honest. Readers want genuine characters and that comes from life experience.” 

Leary was also inspired by her mother who always told her, “To love deeply and give your heart away.”

Jamie Conger: Second Place in fiction 

Jamie Conger (Photo by Benjamin Enyart)

Jamie Conger, an education major who is expecting her first child in August, won second place in the fiction category with an entry titled “Scissors.” Conger said, “It’s a little dark, just to warn you.” The story is about a wedding gift, a pair of scissors, that takes on deeper meaning as it’s used within a family, to tax bills to much more significant interactions as two newlyweds go through life’s ups and downs together. 

Conger said that she drew inspiration from a similar short story by George Suanders about an inanimate object while taking a writing class at COCC. As for the touch of darkness, Conger attributes that to her appreciation of authors Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King.  

“As a kid, I found comfort in the darkness,” Conger said. “Maybe it is because I grew up in houses that were supposedly haunted.”  

She is not someone that you would think of as having a darker side.  

Conger has won writing contests at Mountain View High School with her poetry submissions. She added that her mom is an avid recreational writer and uses it as a creative outlet and form of expression. 

Conger’s tip for other aspiring writers and authors is to:

 “Keep seeking life experiences. I’m always working on something because I am always living life.” 

Oliver Hamilton: Second place in poetry

The Broadside was unable to reach Oliver Hamilton for a comment. Hamilton’s poem as well as the other submissions will be presented on Friday.

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About the Contributor
Serena Zohbe Garcia
Serena Zohbe Garcia, Editor in chief
Serena Zohbe Garcia is editor in chief of The Broadside. She started contributing to COCC’s online newspaper in 2021.

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