Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

May 5, 2013

10 writers win awards

BENZONIA — Ten high school freshmen writers have received awards for participating in the Bruce Catton Essay Contest.

The Mills Community House sponsors the Bruce Catton Essay Contest to introduce high school students to the works of Catton, who was born in northern Michigan and grew up in Benzie County. Readers gave performance readings of student essays during a reception in April.

Those works included: “Mystery Across the Bridge” by Katherine Aldrich; “Sailing” by Lexi Borton; “Hunting” by Brandon Coxe; “The Paddleboard” by Justin Mitchell; “A Father-Son Tradition” by Levi Hubbard; “Yesterday” by McKenna Kelly; “Creating the Family Retreat” by Ian Mills; “Cherry Orchard Dreamin’” by Maisie Nugent; “Grasshopper” by Isabelle Putney; “My Best Experience in Benzie County” by Sara Smith.

From those, the top three award winners were announced, with Mitchell taking first place, Hubbard second and Kelly third. Following is Mitchell’s essay in part.


By Justin Mitchell

It was a swelteringly hot day in Beulah. The sun was shining and Crystal Lake was cool and beautiful; just waiting to be swum in.

I was with my cousin and we were rummaging around in our grandpa’s barn. We were searching for something that we could float on in the lake — an old raft, a blow-up boat — anything that would float.

I looked over to one of the great, wooden doors of the barn, and a tarp beside it with a white surfboard-like end poking out of the tarp grabbed my eye. It pulled me over; my curiosity overwhelming me. I flung the tarp off of it, and a paddleboard lay beneath.

Our adventure led my cousin and me to the pole barn. There we found two old wooden paddles, just perfect for us to use with the board. We grabbed our cooler, which held an ice-cold pop for each of us. Down the gravel road we went, each carrying an end of the paddleboard. It took us awhile, but eventually we reached the cottages, two small homes that my grandparents rent out during the summer. They were right on the lake, so we could launch our little boat right from there.

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