At a special award ceremony at Long Valley Charter School on March 12, students receive awards for participation in the 2018 Lit Jam held in Susanville on Feb. 22. Back row, from left: Alexander Pfingston, Claire Mudd and Brian Mudd; and front row, from left: Elise Mudd, Jade Gardner and Emma Jones. Not pictured: Alyssa Clover and Bailey Keena. Photos by Lauren Westmoreland

Students show off literary skills

LVCS Student Breckyn Shirley arrives at the ceremony just in time for a photo of her own, proudly showing off her Lit Jam 2018 participation certificate.

Long Valley Charter School in Portola held a small ceremony March 12 to celebrate students that participated in the Lassen County Office of Education 2018 Lit Jam; this year themed, “It’s My Story.”

Lit Jam is a conference for students in third through eighth grades. Participants take the opportunity to meet with authors, illustrators and other performers in the arts during the event, along with an award ceremony for students in three levels — Superior, Excellent and Participation.

Due to heavy snow, students at LVCS were unable to attend the event in Susanville on Feb. 22, yet several students still entered their pieces in a variety of categories, including narratives, expository pieces, illustration with a descriptive paragraph or poetry.

Out of the 312 students who participated this year, a number of students at LVCS received recognition of participation for one or more pieces, and three students earned awards, along with a gift certificate to go toward the purchase of the students’ choice in literature.

Emma Jones, an eighth-grade student at LVCS, received two Superior awards in the categories of illustration and poetry. Jones described her love of classical music, which drove her to write a poem inspired by a Tchaikovsky music box, as well as an illustration with a duality of dark and light.


Jade Gardner, a sixth-grader at LVCS, wrote a Superior narrative titled “Save the Day on a Rainy Monday!” which takes the reader on an exciting ride into a world inhabited by kidnapping gypsies. “This was my first year participating,” Gardner said with a smile in soft tones. “I might do it again next year!”

Alexander Pfingston, a fourth-grader, took home a Superior award for his narrative “The Reaper of Reno.” The story takes the reader on a harrowing, adventurous journey into an imagined reality where reapers are on the loose and the author must hunt them down, utilizing his knowledge of their fears and weaknesses to win victory over reapers and fear alike.

Other students that participated are Claire Mudd, Brian Mudd, Elise Mudd, Breckyn Shirley, Bailey Keena and Alyssa Clover. Claire Mudd said her happiness at participating in the annual event was tempered with the fact that as an eighth-grader, this was her final Lit Jam.

“This has been my fifth year participating in Lit Jam,” Mudd noted. “I started in the third grade and I’m thinking about participating in Poetry Out Loud next year.”


The students all laughed and talked animatedly at the ceremony about their love of the written word and the various ways that they were able to transform an idea into a completed work of art, whether written or illustrated.

“I just like writing stories,” Brian Mudd commented. “This has been my fourth year participating and I enjoy writing stories that are more action or dystopian reality themed.”

Regardless of which awards the students earned, instructors and parents beamed with pride as each student received their certificates as well as hand-shaped cookies made by LVCS staff to “give everyone a hand.”

One student looked around at all of the participants present at the ceremony and broke into a big grin, saying, “We’re really all friends here!” With hugs and smiles, the room agreed wholeheartedly.