DALTON -- Nessacus Reg ional Middle School recently celebrated hosting its 30th annual Berkshire County Seventh Grade Writing Contest.
This year’s event, held on Friday, included a total of 68 students from Nessacus, Hoosac Valley High School, Mount Greylock Regional High School, Reid Middle School, Herberg Middle School, Richmond Consol idated School, Lenox Mem orial Middle and High School, St. Mark School, St. Agnes Academy and Berkshire Country Day School.
Najla Nassar of Mount Greylock earned the contest’s first-place Patrick M. West Award.
Each year, participating seventh graders are given a writing prompt and then about a two-hour period to write their essays.
This year’s writing prompt was "That Undeniable Desire."
In her essay, "A Powerful Force" Nassar wrote about her determination to improve her ability to play football and understand the game better.
"Desire is a very powerful force. It lures you into doing what you believe cannot be done. It is quite the motivator," she wrote.
Guest speaker Michael Dowling -- a playwright, New York University professor and former Nessacus student and essay contest runner-up in the 1980s -- gave an interactive presentation on the formation of a story through a three-act play approach focusing on the movies "Up" and "Jaws," culminating in the creation of an audience-generated three-act script.
Contest runners up: Gabriela Keator (Lenox), Jake Daignault (Hoosac), Jessica Houle (Nessacus), Julia Murphy (Richmond) and Maria Osorio (Reid).
Magazine awards: First Place William Polidoro Award winner: Devon Mikaniewicz (Nessacus); Runners up: Savannah Fairbank (Nessacus) and Claire Klammer (Hoosac).
Judges: Magazine judge: Timothy Dowling. Contest judges: Debra Belland, Kathy Voltoline, Lynne Nilan, Lisa Fraser, Nancy Pedercini-Acquista and Caitlin Powers.