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Ninth Annual Silver Pen Essay Contest

Oct 14, 2015 11:46AM ● Published by Jessica Thompson

Pictured are the 2014 winners of the Silver Pen essay contest. The winners were: 1st place, Avis Henderson; 2nd place, Carol Jean Masheter; 3rd place, Rae Miller; honorable mention, Marilyn Sanford and Elinor Hyde. Photo Credit: Susie Cates

By Jessica Thompson  

Taylorsville - Have you had experiences sitting around the fireplace listening to your grandparents tell stories of the good old days, where they had near-death experiences on the farm, or when grandpa would walk an hour just so he could take grandma to the movie theaters? No matter what your grandparents’ stories were about, we enjoy hearing those stories from our loved ones’ past.

Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services, along with partners Salt Lake County Library Services and the SLCC Community Writing Center, have created the Silver Pen essay contest for adults ages 60 and older. This writing contest makes it possible for seniors to remember and explore their past in a fun and creative way by thinking of, and then writing down, stories from their past.

 “Memory is very powerful, and the re-examination of these memories offer insights into themselves and their relationships with others. Sharing experiences via essay is very validating. People need to know that they matter and what they did in their life matters,” Susie Cates, Silver Pen event organizer, said.

In 2014, the Silver Pen essay contest had 32 writing entries, and this year they hope to have even more papers entered into the contest. Themes for the participants’ papers are planned and prepared with a goal of offering a new kind of personal essay topic. 

Several ideas were suggested for the 2015 theme, and eventually the organizers of the event decided that the theme, “I Surprised Myself When…,” was the most motivating topic for seniors to remember a story from their past to write about. Their papers must follow standard essay rules with a thesis statement, support for the thesis with personal experiences, and, lastly, a conclusion. 

Writings must be 350 to 500 words in length and must be original, unpublished work from the author. Each essay is assigned an entry number for anonymous judging. This year the papers will be reviewed by three judges; a librarian from Salt Lake County Library Services, an educator from SLCC Community Writing Center and a former high school language arts instructor. These judges use a rubric to equally evaluate each submitted paper. 

 “Senior centers in Salt Lake County are important venues for aging adults to gather and share experiences through learning and doing. The essay writing is just one more way for these seniors to be involved in the community and continue their writing skills,” Cates said.

The 2015 Silver Pen essay winners will be announced at a recognition party on Oct. 5 at the Columbus Community Senior Center. All writing participants attending the recognition event will receive a silver pen, while the top three essay winners will have their names engraved on their pens. 

The winners from last year’s Silver Pen essay contest were: 1st place, Avis Henderson; 2nd place, Carol Jean Masheter; 3rd place, Rae Miller; honorable mention, Marilyn Sanford and Elinor Hyde. The theme for the 2014 writing contest was “A Dream That Came True…” 

 “It is the hope of the organizers of this contest that the participants find enjoyment in sharing their stories each year,” Cates said.

Salt Lake Community Aging and Adult Services holds many events and activities for seniors to be able to reminisce and surprise themselves when they do something out of the ordinary, and the Silver Pen essay contest is among the great activities to help seniors remember the worth of their past. 

 “We are involved in the Silver Pen essay contest because we believe in the power of writing and the power of experiences to change people’s understanding of the world. It enriches the lives of the writers by writing and the audience by reading and hearing the essays,” organizers of the essay contest said. 

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