Almost every school throughout the nation has a football team, a basketball
team, and a wrestling team. Why not a writing team? Why not a season
of interscholastic writing events? Why not a regional competition for
the best young writers in Ohio? Why not a State Finals to measure and
reward the art of written expression?
These were the questions that inspired the vision and led to the birth
of Power of the Pen in 1986 by its present Executive Director, Lorraine
Lorraine's first interscholastic tournament was held at Nordonia Junior
High School and attracted just a handful of schools. But more importantly,
the initiative helped earn her recognition as a Christa McAuliffe Fellow
by the U.S. and State Departments of Education (1988). As a consequence,
she was granted a year's sabbatical to bring to life her vision of blending
innovative teacher training with interscholastic writing competitions
as a means of strengthening academic achievement among students at the
middle school level. This was accomplished (1988-1989) with substantial
funding support from the Gund, Knight, and Cleveland Foundations.
Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) organization at that time, the program
has since grown to become one of Ohio's largest educational enhancement
programs. More than 120,000 middle school students will benefit from
Power of the Pen instructional methodologies this year, including more
than 8,000 who will compete in formal Power of the Pen interscholastic
Major Milestones In Power of the Pen’s History
Power of the Pen™, first called Olympics of the Pen, originated
in 1985-86 as a single interscholastic writing tournament funded by
the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation. Nordonia Junior High School hosted
the event attended by 170 students and 28 teacher-judges from 15 neighboring
24 schools formed a coalition dedicated to the expansion of the program.
Through the efforts of this interscholastic advisory board and supported
by continued funding from the Jennings Foundation and the Knight Foundation,
the Ohio Interscholastic Writing League (OIWL) was born. In one year,
it was able to coordinate a season of three preliminary writing tournaments
that culminated in a Northeastern Ohio Regional Tournament at Akron
The program creates its first computerized scoring program for an Apple
IIe. By the end of the season, on-site computerized scoring completely
displaces manual scoring.
The Founder, Loraine Merrill, is honored as a Christa McAuliffe Fellow
and is given a one year sabbatical (with salary paid by the U.S. Department
of Education) to create a State program.
First publication of the Book of Winners.
Power of the Pen incorporates as a non-profit educational program under
the Board Chairmanship of Robert Chaffin of General Motors. With grants
from the George Gund Foundation and continued funding from Jennings
and Knight, its base strengthens with participation throughout Northeastern
Ohio and the Miami Valley Region in Central Ohio. The first State Tournament
is held at the College of Wooster with significant support from GM and
Power of the Pen develops reliable programming for gridding tournaments.
Employing Apple computers, the State Office creates a comprehensive
library of matrices; this program requires substantial manual manipulations
of the data.
Power of the Pen hosts its first State Tournament at Denison University.
Apple IIGS computers displaces Apple IIe as Power of the Pen's computer
First meeting of the State Committee - a network of teacher writing
team coaches from across the State of Ohio.
In-house publication of first volume of the Book of Prompts.
Gary Johnston of American Greetings succeeds Robert Chaffin as Chairman
of the Board.
The Southwest Ohio Coordinator is added as a paid staff position.
Existing in-house computer platform replaced by the Macintosh. Power
of the Pen creates its first comprehensive, completely integrated central
First Trustee mini-retreat, Mansfield, Ohio, resulting in the draft
of the officially sanctioned Mission Statement with the help and guidance
of a Sprint facilitator.
Barbara Neikirk succeeds Gary Johnston as Chairman of the Board.
First Trustee retreat at Mohican State Park, Ohio.
Power of the Pen develops a scoring program for Macintosh computers.
EDS collaborates in writing a "stand alone" computer gridding
program for in-house use (PC platform).
Process of decentralizing Ohio's District tournaments begins.
Macintosh displaces Apple throughout all of Ohio as the on-site tournament
computer scoring platform.
Len Gray assumes the Chairmanship of the Board.
Power of the Pen undertakes a major rewriting of the District, Regional,
and State Macintosh scoring programs.
The Board completes all formalities securing the copyright and trade-mark
registrations of Power of the Pen's name and properties.
Power of the Pen goes on-line with the web site, www.powerofthepen.org
The College of Wooster assumes the role as official host site for a
much expanded Power of the Pen State Tournament. It offers the first
full college scholarship for POP's Promising Young Talent Award.
Power of the Pen undertakes a complete reorganization and revision of
its central data files, and installs all relevant new school data State-wide
obtained from the Ohio Deparment of Educations's data bank. It also
creates a new data base of elgibile schools for a supplementary program,
Power of the Pencil, then in its early developmental stages.
Power of the Pen transfers all of its published Coaches' training and
supplementary materials to its website. The program takes its first
steps towards full on-line registration.
The Board reorganizes under the joint chairmanship of Gary Johnston
and Nancy Cox.
Power of the Pen launches an adjunct program, Power of the Pencil,
to bring creative writing enrichment to students at the 5th and 6th
grade levels. Enabling grants for the program are secured from The Ohio
Arts Council, The Turner Foundation, The GAR Foundation, and The Martha
Holden Jennings Foundation.