For immediate release - March 11, 2005
TAVARES — More than 200 entries were received for the month-long “Because of Winn Dixie” essay contest sponsored by the Lake County Department of Economic Development and Tourism.
Of those hundreds of essays, eight Lake County students were awarded prizes for their winning entries at a special Lake County Library System celebration Wednesday afternoon with Lake County Commissioner Debbie Stivender at the Ingraham Community Center in Tavares. The students who placed first through third in the three categories of the essay contest are:
- Amalie Batchelder, home school
- Trevoye Smith, Lost Lake Elementary School
- Kyle Macalinao, St. Paul’s Catholic School
- Julia Sexton, Eustis Middle School
- Zandra Christopher, Cecil Gray Middle School
- Robin Teetzel, Clermont Middle School
- Katey Bartlett , Eustis High School
- Lauren Harvey, home school
Top entries received a host of prizes including movie passes and soundtracks to the new blockbuster movie “Because of Winn Dixie,” which is based on the book written by former Clermont resident Kate DiCamillo.
There were three judges for the contest. Linda Goff, Youth Services Coordinator for the Lake County Library System, selected the elementary school winners. Nancy Clutts, Vice-Mayor of the City of Tavares and a longtime friend of DiCamillo, selected the middle school winners and Aurelia Cole, Principal of East Ridge High School and former English teacher and mentor of DiCamillo, chose the high school winners.
As children, Clutts and DiCamillo grew up next door to each other. Clutts was able to share at the Wednesday event some insight on growing up with DiCamillo and how the story of “Because of Winn Dixie” came about.
“Kate has always had a love of animals,” Clutts said. “When she was growing up she had a large black Standard Poodle and that dog was as animated as they come. It was kind of the neighborhood mascot, and Kate and that dog were inseparable.”
Clutts said it was great to see the immense support for the movie and essay contest. Some of the largest groups of entries for the contest came from entire classes at Lost Lake and Clermont elementary schools.
“This is the second essay contest we have had and each time it gets an amazing response,” she said. “People from all over are recognizing Kate grew up here.”
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