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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

Sept. 8, 2009

Horace Mann student among winners in national writing contest

Horace Mann Laboratory School student Sabrina Olson is the third-place category 1 (grades 3-6) winner in the Young Voices Foundation 2009 short story contest.

Sabrina will receive a $100 cash award from the foundation, and her story, "An Unforgettable Vacation," has been electronically published on the Young Voices Web site at .

An excerpt from Sabrina's story, which describes the experiences of a young heroine named Annebeth Evergreen during a hang gliding expedition in Yellowstone National Park, appears below:


Her heart started to pound when they neared the canyon. The canyon was a sight to behold. The water-worn walls shined with red, orange and yellow bands. The glistening waterfall added more magnificence to the scene. The thunder of the waterfall was as if a thousand lions roared at once. Its glass-like veil illuminated the rock behind the falls and the water it poured was as clear as clean water in a glass. She imagined how she could dip down on her glider and get so close that she could almost touch the watery veil and feel its spray enshroud her. Then she dreamed that she was spiraling up on a thermal and then dipping down, down, down. …



Sabrina, 9, a fourth-level student at Horace Mann, is the daughter of Dr. Anthony Olson, associate professor of piano and organ at Northwest, and Eva Peng, who teaches voice at both Northwest and North Central Missouri College in Trenton. The young author said she wrote and entered her story in the contest this summer and has written several other stories as well.

"I write quite a bit, but not every day," she said, adding that she also composes poetry and enjoys playing the piano.

Olson said his daughter learned how to read when she was only 4 years old and could sound out simple words from children's books before that.

"She has always enjoyed writing," Olson said. "In kindergarten she wrote a little short story, illustrated it and we sent it in to another contest. She won a T-shirt for being the writer and illustrator of the month."

Asked what her parents do to encourage Sabrina's writing, Olson said they simply offer encouragement and "just give her time."

"She likes books, and she does a lot of reading," Olson said.

Bobbi Carducci, foundation director and creator of the Young Voices Project, said the foundation receives several hundred entries for each contest its sponsors, and that the contest Sabrina entered drew a record number of submissions. "We are delighted to find so much talent in one so young," Carducci said.

Joining Sabrina in category 1 were first-place winner Jamie Bowne of Marlton, N.J., for "Freedom's Fight" and second-place winner Nidhi Mahagaokar, Basking Ridge, N.J., for "Middle School Mayhem."

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468