Friends of Anderson Park has named three winners in its annual short-story contest: Nola Kim from Buzz Aldrin Middle School, and Ana Mejia and Joonkyu Shim from Montclair Kimberley Academy.

All of this year’s winners are sixth-graders. They were among 26 entrants in grades six through eight.

The Friends groups described Nola's story, “Zoom Zoomy Zoom,” as "an amusing, incisive take on a pandemic-era classroom." Ana's “The Twisty Tree” is a "poetic rendering of the stories that trees could tell," it said. Joonkyu's “Underground Secrets” is "a geological mystery involving the man who donated the land for the park more than a century ago, Charles W. Anderson."

“Middle schoolers must be at a magic point where they haven’t left behind the imagination of childhood for the certainty and cynicism of adults. I say that because every year their imaginations take us to fabulous places in wild and fascinating ways,” Ann Anderson Evans, a coordinator of the contest and Friends of Anderson Park trustee, said in an announcement form the group.

Winners of the Anderson Park Short Story Contest are, from left, Joonkyu Shim, Ana Mejia and Nola Kim.
Winners of the Anderson Park Short Story Contest are, from left, Joonkyu Shim, Ana Mejia and Nola Kim.

Winners each receive $100, and their stories will be read aloud at an awards ceremony at Watchung Booksellers in Montclair on Sunday, May 22, at 3 p.m. Their stories are also posted at

The contest is now in its fourth year.


The judges were Judy Newman, president of Scholastic Book Clubs (and known to Montclair residents as “the Book Lady” for handing out books on Halloween); Sharon Dennis Wyeth, author of award-winning books for children and young adults, including her recent “Evette: The River and Me” and the upcoming “Juneteenth: Our Day of Freedom;” Nancy Star, best-selling author of many books, most recently “Rules for Moving” and “Sisters One, Two, Three;” and Evans, a former professor of freshman writing at Montclair State University and author of the award-winning memoir “Daring to Date Again.”

The contest will be run again next year, open to students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades who live in Montclair or attend school in the town, including home-schooled students.