KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney is recognizing eight high schoolers for their outstanding writing abilities.

Sponsored by the UNK Writing Center, American Democracy Project, and Phi Eta Sigma and Sigma Tau Delta honor societies, the second annual Nebraska Emerging Writers Contest gave students from across the state an opportunity to showcase their talent while competing for cash prizes.

Participants submitted an essay, poem, or short story about democracy and what it means today. The theme was based on “The Meaning of Democracy” essay written by American author E.B. White during World War II. Organizers aimed to promote literacy by encouraging young people to make sense of these transformative times through the act of writing.

Winners were selected through a blind review process by committees composed of UNK undergraduate students and led by juniors Marcela Sousek (poetry), Cassidy Johnson (short story), and Caroline Stanley (essay). The winning students are invited to read their submissions April 22 at the annual language and literature conference hosted by the UNK Department of English.



First place ($100): Parker Albers, Cedar Catholic High School, “Division”

Second place ($50): Megan Lambert, Boys Town High School, “A Modern Renaissance of American Democracy”

Third place ($50): Leo Ha, Grand Island Central Catholic High School, “Democracy is the Power to the People”


Short story

First place ($100): Aarya Bhatt, Grand Island Northwest High School, “The Boy”

Second place ($50): Joe Messere, Grand Island Central Catholic High School, “Democracy in Action in My Community”



First place ($100): Amelia Kafka, Marian High School, “Democracy through the Eyes of a Fourteen-Year-Old”

Second place ($50): Maggie Haesler, Mullen High School, “Advantages of a Democracy”

Third place ($50): Hannah Liske, Grand Island Central Catholic High School, “What We Hear about Democracy”