GLEN RIDGE, NJ — Glen Ridge students participated in the first-ever Folkwise PR Summer Writing Contest for local students going into sixth through eighth grades. The first-place winner was eighth-grader Amelie Yi; second-place winner, seventh-grader Priyanka Nair; and third-place winner, seventh-grader Charlotte Pomerantz.

Winners and judges at Freeman Gardens in Glen Ridge.

“Storytelling is at the heart of what we do, and so when we were thinking of ways we could give back to our community, we immediately thought of a student writing contest to inspire the next generation of storytellers,” says Folkwise PR Founder and President Amanda Staab. “We wanted to provide a fun incentive for students to explore their love of writing and stay productive during their summer downtime. All of the contestants amazed us with their skill, deep thinking and creativity.”

The contest was free to enter. Contestants were invited to submit one original piece in a format of their choice – story, essay, script or poem – and no longer than 600 words. Entries were evaluated blind (with names and grades removed) based on quality, originality, structure, spelling and grammar by professional writers and educators with ties to Glen Ridge.

Winners (l. to r.) Amelie Yi, Charlotte Pomerantz and Priyanka Nair.

The judges included:

Jerry White, the young readers’ author of award-winning titles such as Nightbooks, Thickety and Shadow School who also is a language arts teacher at Ridgewood Avenue School in Glen Ridge;

Neil Baldwin, the award-winning biographer and cultural historian who served as the founding director of the National Book Foundation;

Eda Uzuncakara (also known as Eda Kara), the author of Jumping on the Drips, a collection of connected stories;

Lucy Segal, a journalist, on-air personality, QVC host and interfaith chaplain;

James Mellis, an English professor at CUNY (City University of New York)

Smita Ganatra, an English teacher at Glen Ridge High School and the Glen Ridge Writing Club advisor; and

Beth Finkelstein, the negotiation trainer and career coach who founded B&D Coaching.

The first-place prize was $150; second-place prize, $100; and third-place prize, $50. The top winners also were invited to a lunch with the judges and the Folkwise PR team at the Freeman Gardens in Glen Ridge.

Yi’s winning piece entitled “Cag” is about a half-cat, half-dog creature that is misunderstood and mistreated but ends up teaching cats and dogs – and the reader – a valuable lesson in kindness. Nair’s story “The Park” is about one woman’s walk home that is also a journey through her memories and reflections. Pomerantz’s story “Waiting for Love” is a heart-wrenching tale of a young man who realizes he’s in love with his best friend maybe a little too late.

This year, the pilot competition was open to middle school students in Glen Ridge, where Folkwise PR is based. Due to the program’s success, there are already plans to expand the region where the contest is offered to neighboring towns next year.

“We would like to share this opportunity with as many kids as we can,” says Staab. “We believe when kids are encouraged to practice their skills and get creative, the future looks brighter for everyone.”

For more details about the contest, visit