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eStem Student Wins 2019 Writing Contest


Favi Alba, a senior at eStem High School in Little Rock, earned the $1,000 top prize of the 3rd Annual Argenta Reading Series High School Writing Contest Saturday night. The contest is made possible through a partnership with the William L. Laman Public Library in North Little Rock.

Alba competed with three other finalists, all of whom read their work in front of a live audience and a panel of judges made up of the Oxford American magazine’s 2019 Jeff Baskin Fellow, Micah Fields, Laman Public Library Director Crystal Gates, and Arkansas Life Editor Jordan Hickey.

The winning short story, Alba’s “Roses,” was chosen from a field of more than 60 qualifying submissions from across the state. The other finalists were Erica Batres, a junior at Berryville High School, Jeremia Lo, a senior at Fayetteville High School, and Gabrielle Thurman, a senior at Pottsville High School. All three of the finalists will receive a $500 consolation prize once they finish a semester at an Arkansas college, university, or trade school, as required by the rules of the contest.

“We created this contest to show young writers that they don’t have to leave the state to pursue a career in the arts,” said ARS Director Guy Choate. “As a high school student, I didn’t think I could write anything good if I wasn’t living in New York City, but that’s just not true. And anyone who heard these four Arkansas students read their work tonight can attest to that.”

Alba plans to attend UA-Little Rock beginning in the fall, while Thurman will head to UCA in Conway, where she will was accepted to the Schedler’s Honors College. Lo graduates in May, but is still undecided, and Batres plans to attend cosmetology school when she graduates in May 2020. Because of her junior status, Batres is eligible to enter the contest again next year.

“I’m definitely entering again,” she said, surrounded by her family who had driven over three hours from the northern part of the state to see Batres read her work.

Choate says the Argenta Reading Series will begin accepting submissions for 2020’s contest in August.


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