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Wish You Well Essay Contest Winners

Internationally acclaimed novelist and literacy advocate David Baldacci spoke to nearly 1,000 people at West Kentucky Community and Technical College on November 11-12. The two-day event was the finale to the colleges One Book, One Campus, One Community Read Project, a joint community effort to promote literacy in the region.

David Baldaccis Wish You Well was this years One Book selection. The book was read on the WKCTC campus and across the community as part of the One Book project.

An essay contest, inspired by Wish You Well, was sponsored by the WKCTC Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) committee. The contest encouraged area middle and high school students, as well as WKCTC students and faculty and staff to write an essay about Baldaccis book.

During a reception for Baldacci, the winners of the contest were announced and awarded certificates for their efforts.

Tilghman freshman Will Hancock took first place in the middle and high school category. I am very humbled that I was chosen, Hancock said. I definitely liked the book and enjoyed writing the essay. I really want to thank my parents, who are both great writers, for always encouraging me to pursue my writing.

Honorable mentions were awarded to Robin Gericke from the Open Door Academy and Denton Wood, Jr. and Lori Driskoll, both from Livingston County middle school.

WKCTC student Melissa Smith won first place at the college level. Valerie Dycus and Jessica Willett received honorable mentions. You cant place enough emphasis on the importance of reading. Its in every aspect of life, said Willett. Our English instructor (Tyra Cornwell) is always telling us that the better we read, the better we write, Dycus said. Pat Holler, WKCTC associate professor of English, won first place in the WKCTC faculty and staff category.

WKCTC has focused on the importance of reading as part of its QEP, a five-year initiative designed by the college to enhance the academic performance and the culture of literacy for the college and community.

During his visit, Baldacci spoke to area high school students, Commonwealth Middle College, WKCTC students, and the community about Wish You Well. He also talked about his love for reading, his journey to becoming a published writer, and gave advice he feels is essential for aspiring writers.

Baldacci has written 19 best-selling novels and 100 million copies of his books in print worldwide. His books have been translated into more than 45 languages and sold in more than 80 countries. He insisted that without his love for reading, none of that would have been possible.

When asked for advice about becoming a published author, Baldacci told audiences that writing must be a passion. You have to love to read, love to tell stories, and love to do it with words - you cant live without it, he said.

Commonwealth Middle College student Joelle Middleman was very impressed with Baldacci. I love to read and meeting someone who puts so much effort into writing his books was a great experience, she said. He is a tremendous influence on people who want to become writers.

Baldacci and his wife Michele established the Wish You Well Foundation in 2002 to eliminate illiteracy, which they have said is the single most important issue facing America today.

To read could easily equate to the verb, to think, Baldacci said. You simply cant do one without the other.

One Book, One Campus, One Community Read partners include the following: National Quilt Museum, Challenger Learning Center at Paducah on the WKCTC campus, McCracken County Public Library, McNet, McCracken County and Paducah Independent school districts, and Barbecue on the River.