Phi Psi, Shippensburg University‘s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, was the 2015-2016 Sigma Tau Delta Project Grant recipient for their AuthorSHIP Project Grant contest, a Central Pennsylvania competition that encourages young writers in multiple writing styles. The three categories include poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. A first and second place winner is selected from each category in both the high school and middle school division, resulting in a total of twelve awards.
AuthorSHIP Project Grant
In the first week of December 2015 notification of the contest was sent via email, and flyers were sent to nearly fifty middle school and high school teachers. Information about the AuthorSHIP contest was sent to twenty school districts within a sixty-mile radius of Shippensburg University. We accepted submissions online until March 31, 2016, and received 174 manuscripts across the three categories—the highest entry rate so far!
The guidelines for the AuthorSHIP contest are fairly flexible: there is no length requirement and students may submit as many pieces of writing to as many categories as they wish. We encouraged students to proofread and edit their submissions before submitting final drafts. The students could submit pieces they wrote for a specific class, such as research papers, or individual pieces they specifically created for this contest or have been working on previously. No matter how new or old their piece was, it could be submitted as long as they personally wrote the piece.
The students submitted their writing to an online database that every member of the Phi Psi chapter could access. Members were split into three groups and each group was assigned an award category (poetry, fiction, nonfiction) to judge. After reading the submissions multiple times, the members held a meeting to make the final decisions. As difficult as it was to agree on the winners, the final entries were picked via majority vote.
Picking the awarded entries was challenging for the members because of the level of creativity and emotion used by the students. The students’ writing made members laugh, cry, and reflect. Some of the common themes were science fiction, mystery, dystopian worlds, personal narratives, and poetry about nature. Gender and social stereotypes were explored in many of the selected winners’ works. It was inspiring to read these emotionally charged stories written by young minds.
An anthology of winning submissions for the AuthorSHIP Project Grant was compiled by the Writing Contest Subcommittee to distribute to winners, and an awards ceremony was held in April to publicly recognize the winners. Many members of the Phi Psi chapter attended the ceremony, along with the winners and their teachers and family members. Everyone was excited to meet each other and congratulate the writers. The AuthorSHIP contest encourages young people to write and even if their work is not selected in the current year, they are encouraged to submit pieces the following year!
Sigma Tau Delta Project Grants
Sigma Tau Delta’s Project Grants are designed to encourage local chapters to be innovative in developing projects that further the goals of the Society. The Society will award a limited number of grants, for no more than $500 each, to support local chapter activities. Funds may be requested for separate projects or for parts of larger projects, and chapters should explore ways to use Project Grants in combination with funds secured from other sources. Funds may be requested for ongoing projects, but there is no guarantee that projects funded during one grant period will receive funding in future grant periods.
Winning chapters may also receive up to $350 in travel assistance for sending at least one student representative to the annual convention to participate in a workshop and/or roundtable. Winning chapters are encouraged to share a chapter exhibit at the convention.
Applications must be complete and received by November 1. No late submissions will be accepted. Award winners will be notified by November 15, with one-half of the awarded funds available immediately; the other half when a final project report is filed.
Sigma Tau Delta Project Grant Resources
2014-2015 Project Grant Reports
- “Books and Beyond”: A New Spin on Story Time
- Chapter Project Grant: Bridging the Gap Between High School and College Writing
2015-2016 Project Grant Recipient
Phi Psi Chapter, President
Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, PA