Pictured above: Emma Anand, winner of the “My Dreams for My Community” essay contest in the Youth category (Ages 13- 18), reading at a celebration at ACW, August 2023.

In the spring of 2023, Adirondack Voters for Change approached us about the idea of offering an essay contest for young people living in the North Country. Their goal was to hear what it was the next generation cared about, how they envisioned a kinder, more communal future.

This mission matched what ACW has been doing for the last 25 years: inspiring young people in the Adirondacks with opportunities to speak their minds and audiences to hear their stories. From our long-running annual High School Writing Retreat to our new Wild Words Teen Writing Anthology and our recent camps and programs for kids, ACW believes that our youngest writers are important members of the North Country literary community.

Jacob Andre, winner in the Young Adult category
Kaidence Spooner, second place in the Youth category
Lee Ames, second place in the Young Adult category

We decided to call the contest, “My Dreams for My Community,” which posed some of the following questions for ADK youth to answer:

  1. Define your community – Describe what you consider your community to be
  2. Say what you care about – What are the issues that your community cares about most?
  3. Offer ideas for change – When you dream of the world you want, what do you see?

In May, we opened for submissions in two categories: Youth (ages 13 – 18) and Young Adult (ages 19 – 25), and we received essay submissions from all over the park, from Canton to Peru to Bolton Landing, and everywhere in between. Two teams of distinguished judges scored the essays and chose winners to receive cash prizes.

  • Emma Anand (Warrensburg) – 1st place, Youth – $400 
  • Kaidence Spooner (Keeseville) – 2nd place, Youth – $200
  • Evan Beech (Westport) – 3rd place, Youth – $100
  • Rebecca Cook-Chevier (Brushton) – Honorable Mention, Youth
  • Thea Kennedy (Bolton Landing) – Honorable Mention, Youth
  • Delphine Mann (Troy) – Honorable Mention, Youth – $25 Stewart’s Gift Card
  • Jacob Andre (Peru) – 1st place, Young Adult – $400 prize
  • Lee Ames (Canton) – 2nd place, Young Adult – $200 prize 
  • Adalynne Perryman (Lake Placid) – Honorable Mention, Young Adult

The contest judges were: writer and professor Shir Filler of North Country Community College, author and reporter Tim Rowland of Adirondack Explorer, author and reporter Adam Federman, author and editor Andy Flynn of the Lake Placid News, teacher Joy McCabe, and author Ed Kanze.

At an event hosted at ACW in late August, the winners of the contest were awarded certificates and cash prizes. Then, the audience was treated to readings of these inspiring essays by the impassioned young writers themselves. May appeared in person, but Young Adult category winners Jacob Andre and Lee Ames read their work over video.

If you’d like to read the winning essays, look forward to finding them in various North Country publications this fall, including Adirondack Explorer, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Local ADK, and more.

View Lee Ames reading their essay, “My Dreams for My Community,” which won second place in the Young Adult category
Adalyne Perryman, an honorable mention in the Young Adult category, reading an excerpt of her essay.
Evan Beech, 3rd place in the Youth category, reading an excerpt of his essay.

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