Students honored at Kipling Young Writers awards

BRATTLEBORO — On May 18, at the Latchis Theatre, The Landmark Trust USA announced the winners of the third annual Rudyard Kipling Young Writers Award.

The Kipling Young Writers Award is the culmination of The Landmark Trust USA's Just Stories program, now in its 18th year, which offers dramatic interpretations of Kipling's Just So Stories free to over 7,000 local elementary school children.

As part of the program, fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders tour Naulakha (Kipling's home) and see where he told the tales to his own children such as How the Elephant got its Trunk, How the Camel Got its Hump, and How the Rhino Got its Skin.

The Kipling Young Writers Award received 55 submissions from local students inspired to write their own Just So Stories after attending the Kipling performance.

Susan McMahon, Executive Director of The Landmark Trust USA, said at the award ceremony that “opening Naulakha for the Just So Stories program allows the students to visit an architecturally significant historic property built by Rudyard Kipling and see why preserving these properties are so important for future generations.”

McMahon introduced the judges, who included award-winning author Karen Hesse, Vermont Poet Laureate Chard deNiord, Brooks Memorial Library director Starr LaTronica, retired Brooks Memorial Library director Jerry Carbone, writer Tom Bedell, and novelist-memoirist Vincent Panella.

Panella provided some quick remarks before announcing the award winners, saying “reading and writing expand the mind and validate other realities. Writing is an expression of both logic and the imagination. So all of you here, especially teachers and parents, congratulate each other for this good work, encourage reading, encourage word games, encourage keeping a journal, read together, recite together, have fun with words.”

Panella first announced the following 16 finalists, who all received an award certificate and a copy of Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book: Leila Mozaffari, Saxtons River; Bryce Nutting, NewBrook Elementary; Lauren Chute, Putney Central; Lizzie Elkins, Academy School; Renee Arnini, Academy School; Annika Dunbar, Saxtons River; Sydneygrace Lescord, Saxtons River; Liam Domanski, NewBrook Elementary; Avery Buchanan-Cherry, Putney Central; Adrianna Sidelinger, Putney Central; Nathaniel Frantz-Holmes, Oak Grove Elementary; Grace Hayes, Saxtons River; Luna Lillie, Saxtons River; Bela Vanni-Phillips, NewBrook Elementary; Elizabeth Valente, Academy School; and Juliette Pals, Putney Central.

Sylvia North of Academy School, the Grand Prize winner, had a busy day, running in the Girls on the Run race and then winning an overnight stay in Naulakha. Lee Parker of Saxtons River was announced as the second-prize winner and won an overnight stay at the Kipling Carriage House in Dummerston.

Panella concluded the award ceremony by reading to the audience both Parker's story, How the Skunk Got Its Stink, and North's How the Ladybug Got Her Spots.

The Just So Stories of the finalists, second-, and grand-prize winners can be read at the Kipling Awards Blog at

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