Spring 2012 Writing Competition Winners

Winning essays from the YES! National Student Writing Competition Spring 2012, "Does it matter who you eat with and how often you eat together?"

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The YES! National Student Writing Competition gives students the chance to write for a real audience and be published by an award-winning magazine. Each quarter, students have the opportunity to read and respond to a selected YES! Magazine article.

For Spring 2012, participants read and responded to the YES! Magazine article, "You Are Who You Eat With" by Katherine Gustafson. Congratulations to our essay winners: Middle School: Kate LeBlanc, High School: Clara Lincoln, College: Willis Reed, and Powerful Voice: Hanna Walker.


Winning Essays


Kate LeBlanc

Middle School Winner Kate LeBlanc

Kate LeBlanc is a seventh grade student at Metro Montessori Middle School in Portland, Oregon. Read Kate's essay about lessons learned at the dinner table.



Clara Lincoln

High School Winner Clara Lincoln

Clara Lincoln is a senior at Capital City Charter School in Washington, D.C. Read Clara's essay about the benefits of family dinners - no matter what form they take.



Willis ReedCollege Winner Willis Reed

Willis Reed is a student at Edmonds Community College in Edmonds, Washington. Read Willis's essay about how brotherhood is forged around the dinner table.



Hanna Walker

Powerful Voice Winner Hanna Walker

Hanna Walker is an eighth grade student at Cowles Montessori in Des Moines, Iowa. Read Hanna's essay about how the dinner table brings together more than just people.


Katherine Gustafson

Author Response from Katherine Gustafson

Katherine Gustafson, author of YES! Magazine article, "You Are Who You Eat With," responds to essay winners of the Spring 2012 YES! National Student Writing Competition.



Literary Gems from the Spring 2012 Writing Competition


We received many powerful essays. Though not every participant can win the contest, we'd like to share some excerpts that caught our eye.


"The tilapia was stuffed with a blend of vegetables, soaked in lemon juice, and wrapped and baked in foil. I just couldn't resist it. At the dinner table, I reached for the part with the most steak and vegetables, but before I could actually dig in and put the tilapia on my plate, my father exclaimed, "Stop! Until you are offered by someone older than you, always go for the head part." Anguished and embarrassed, I felt like sinking in my chair because I thought my brothers would tease me. However, without hesitation, my father immediately turned that moment into a learning curve for all of us."

Catherine Sichone, Edmonds Community College, Edmonds, Wash.


"As we get older—my sister being a year and a half younger, and my brother five years younger—our lives drift apart at an increasingly rapid pace. Our desire for independence escalates and we draw further away from the protection and instruction of our parents. If it wasn't for our shared dinners, I'm sure we'd hardly see each other; wrapped up in our own worlds, moving forward as individuals, we would cease to be a family. "

Hannah Vincent, Rockport High School, Rockport, Mass.


"But hey! Eating together's the talk of the town
They eat some big eats from all ups and all downs
A very good example is the meal we call the picnic
It lures folks outside and causes them to stick
Except when come the rain and the ants and the ticks
So whether you're in Paris or New York or such
Or in Inchrid-O'Minchrid-O'Macho-O'Much
When you're trying to eat dinner in a restaurant so grand
Invite some friends over for a feast! Nothing bland!"

Sam Fulmer, Lionsgate Academy, Cottage Grove, Minn.