Support Power of the Pen’s young writers on Giving Tuesday, December 1, 2020, at powerofthepen.org/Donate or GoFundMe. Share the GoFundMe page with friends and family!
Annie Morino describes the impact of Power of the Pen on her life:
Power of the Pen is an important part of who I am as a professional today and who I was as a student from 7th grade on. I had always loved writing growing up, but I didn’t know I was talented until I was picked for the Power of the Pen team in 7th grade. Middle school is a tough place to be for any kid, but when that prompt would go up, all of my other worries would fall away. Writing a story made me feel smart and creative, and our practices just made me feel like I was where I belonged.
Not knowing how I would do in a tournament, before we started, I promised myself that I would always go to the Power of the Pen practices for as long as I could, even if I wasn’t successful in the actual competitions. I was dedicated to the writing. In my first competition, I wrote a totally fictional story to the prompt, “In the middle,” about a student whose parents were going through a divorce. I left the competition without ribbons and without particularly outstanding scores.
A Mysterious Summons From the Counselor’s Office
About a week later, I was mysteriously called to the counselor’s office, who also happened to be my Power of the Pen coach. I panicked walking down the halls thinking I had invited some kind of intervention. There was nothing wrong at home at all. My coaches were all in the room when I arrived and they laughed as I tried to explain myself. They weren’t concerned at all. It turned out I had won a Best of Round! That story went on to win a Best of Best award, giving me an opportunity to compete at States. It was an all-around incredible experience. I didn’t place at States, but I was determined to go back the next year.
After a difficult start in 8th grade, I made it onto the team for districts, but did not make it to the Regional Power of the Pen competition. It was devastating, but I remembered the promise I had made from the start. As painful as it was to know I wouldn’t be attending any more competitions, I continued to attend practices even as others dropped off. I just loved writing, and Power of the Pen gave me the confidence to keep my head held high, even as school drama raged around me.
A Communications Career
I continued to pursue writing and communication through high school and college, securing a job as a communication strategist at a political consulting firm for five years. Now I am the Business Development Manager for a construction company, and I happily write our pitches and proposals for new projects. I also lead our marketing and research efforts.
Power of the Pen was the foundation for all of it. Better grammar and communication theory, political strategy and research layered on top of the confidence I had built. I could write a complete story from scratch, out of the blue, in 40 minutes, no matter how difficult the prompt. No essay or assignment was insurmountable after that. While I always wished I could have continued to compete in the eighth grade, not making the cut and pursuing writing anyway was so important to my development. I would encourage any student today to do the same. Power of the Pen is a totally unique experience you’ll never get the chance to repeat. My advice is to soak up as much of that world as you can. You won’t regret it.
– Annie Morino, Power of the Pen Class of 2003-2005