Canton Repository reporter Paige Bennett credits Power of the Pen tournaments’ 40-minute writing rounds with teaching her to craft stories under pressure - an essential aspect of her profession.
“Part of my job as a journalist is being able to write on a deadline,” she says. “Power of the Pen was one of my first experiences writing under time constraints. It taught me the importance of outlining, pacing, and story structure. I use these skills in my career almost every day.”
An Early Start
Paige, who participated as a middle school student with St. Mary of the Falls in Olmsted Falls, has been writing since her earliest days in grade school. But until she joined Power of the Pen, she was afraid for others to read her writing.
“I started writing stories when I was eight or nine years old, but I was a shy kid, so I didn’t share them with anyone,” she says. “Power of the Pen gave me the confidence to show my writing to other people.”
In 8th grade, Paige qualified for the Power of the Pen state tournament. “It was one of the most exciting moments for me as a middle schooler,” she says. “I had a wonderful time writing and meeting other kids who had a passion for storytelling.”
Power of the Pen district and regional tournaments each feature three rounds of writing. Students are given the prompt at the beginning of the round. Most contestants respond with a narrative, but students are welcome to write in any form.
Prompts are open-ended to allow middle school writers to draw on their own experiences and interests in crafting a response. A particularly successful prompt in 2022, for example, was “They said it was impossible. Show them how wrong they were.”
For Paige, hearing classmates’ writing in Power of the Pen meetings was a revelation. Power of the Pen “helped me realize the limitless possibilities of writing,” she says. “It was amazing to see so many students take different directions with the same prompt.”
Paige also learned that developing writing skills is a lifelong endeavor. In Power of the Pen, she could see her growth as a writer. “It was fun to look back at previous stories and realize how much my writing had changed over time,” she says.
Paige has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Kent State University. She covers Alliance and western Mahoning County for the Repository.