By Liberty Davidson. Originally published in the PHC Herald, 2/3/12.
Patrick Henry College
After months of brainstorming, scribbling, erasing, and re-scribbling, middle and high school students from around the country have answered the call -- A Call to Pens. Over 200 entries for Patrick Henry College’s fourth annual short story writing competition were turned in by Wednesday’s deadline, and more will be trickling in by mail over the next week before judging can begin. A Call to Pens is open to 12- to 18-year-olds nationwide.
“The goal is to get Christian students thinking about what it means to combine their faith and their writing in a way that is beautiful and that brings glory to God,” said junior Alicia Constant, this year’s contest coordinator.
Alumnus Peter Forbes started the competition in 2008 to help raise money for the Barbara Hodel Center.
“There were prizes for the students who brought in the most cash for the school,” Forbes said. “I didn’t know many people who had lots of cash, and I didn’t have much myself, so for some reason the idea of a competition with entry fees going to the building fund came to mind.”
Director of Communications David Halbrook, Provost Dr. Veith, graphics artist Art Cox, and alumni Kati Exline, Josh Kamakawiwoole, and Sarah Pride also helped launch the contest. The competition quickly grew larger than Forbes had envisioned, eliciting over 250 entries its first year.
When Constant participated in the competition during high school, she was challenged to consider what it meant to write a Christian story.
“A story can be overtly Christian by communicating something true,” she said. “Most secularists don’t start by trying to shove an explicit worldview down your throat. They tell the story and make it appealing. The Christian message must flow out of the story, not the other way around.”
Constant has also managed a blog for the Call to Pens writing contest this semester, gathering entries from PHC students and alumni. Read the blog here.
Entries will now go through several rounds of judging from a pool of selected PHC faculty, alumni and students. Winners for the contest will be announced some time in April.