SPC Literary Festival, although virtual, was a “big success”


Callie Kranz, staff writer

“The SPC Lit Fest, running entirely virtual for the first time, was definitely a big success” said Mr. Brian Newman, Joliet West teacher, and sponsor for the Joliet West submissions to the Literary Festival. Late first semester, Joliet West English teachers shared the opportunity to submit a form of literature to the local Literary Festival in Illinois with their students, sparking the ideas of many students. 

A total of 19 Joliet West students were invited to participate in the festival virtually on Friday, April 9th, to listen to speakers, attend clinics, and the award ceremony. Of these 19 students, 10 won awards at the festival for their outstanding submissions. “While our submission numbers were down with only 19—we typically have 25-30—we were proud to have 10 winners for Joliet West, the most we’ve ever had in our 4 years attending the Lit Fest.” says Mr. Newman. Many submissions were awarded between the schools of Yorkville, Plainfield East, Plainfield Central, Plainfield South, Oswego, Oswego East, Romeoville, West Aurora, Minooka, and Joliet West high schools.

The students started the day listening to successful author Brandy Colbert, who was joining the festival virtually from Los Angeles, California. Students were then able to choose 2 clinicians to listen to and interact with back to back out of the 6 available via Zoom. The clinicians included Ian Doescher, Adam Kotlarczyk, Anna Michels, George Miller, Dan Portincaso, and Jackie White. The festival came to a close after the award ceremony that took place at noon. 

“I think I was most impressed by how we did in the Critical Essay category. Our English curriculum focuses quite a bit on writing arguments, and of the top 4 places in this category, we swept,” explains Mr. Newman. “We also focus on personal essays and personal narratives, and we took 1st and 3rd in that category. Then, in the categories that we don’t really teach much at Joliet West, we still had students earn awards: in Short Fiction we took 1st and 3rd, and in Poetry we had two honorable mentions. This speaks to the talent we have in our school.” Joliet West has assisted in proving through this festival that it is full of hard working and gifted individuals. 

Students had the opportunity to submit work to 7 different categories: Descriptive Sketch, Dramatic Scene, Critical Essay, Personal Essay, Personality, Poetry, and Short Fiction. The award winners were: 

Ava Vaccarella; Critical Essay; Critic’s Choice

Rebecca Janovsky; Critical Essay; First Place

Liz Wellman; Critical Essay; Second place

Anna Buan; Critical Essay; Third Place

Eleanor Mastin; Personal Narrative; First Place

Hannah Picco; Personal Narrative; Third Place

Jaedyn Jumper; Poetry; Honorable Mention

Deniyah Lockman; Poetry; Honorable Mention

Katelynn Munoz; Short Fiction; First Place

Cam Khater; Short Fiction; Third Place

Overall, Joliet West showed great success through the 2021 Literary Festival. “I hope in the years to come, we will get more submissions from students and see us continue to thrive in this Lit Fest, which is both a competition and a celebration of the written word.” shares Mr. Newman