Power of the Pen is an interscholastic writing league founded by Lorraine B. Merrill in 1986. It is a non-profitcreative writing program for students in grades seven and eight in the U.S. state of Ohio.
Power of the Pen is exclusive to the state of Ohio, having no competition at a national level. Over 80 school districts compete, each starting off with teams of twelve students, six from each grade. A writing coach is penalized if this number is not met..
In most schools, students who want to join the Power of the Pen team participate in one or more tryout sessions, in which they are given a prompt that they must base an essay or short story within 40 minutes. After the allotted time, each story is given to the coach, who evaluates the writing and chooses students who they think are best for the team based on their writing skills.
The teams compete in three different tournaments: a District, Regional, and State tournament. Based on where their schools are located, teams will participate in separate District and Regional tournaments throughout the state. As the team progresses, more and more members may be eliminated based on their scores in the previous tournament's submissions.
- A District tournament is held at an elected participating school, the itinerary consisting of a welcoming orientation, three rounds of writing that are 45 minutes each, lunch, and an awards ceremony. There is only one judge per section of six writers.. As the name suggests, District tournaments consist of many local schools. There are about 60-90 students per grade that attend district tournaments. Placing in approximately the top 50% will qualify a student to for the Regional tournaments. You are graded by rank points, or the place you received within the specified room you are out in. Quality points, the points given based on the essay's overall quality, are used to break ties in placing.
- A Regional tournament follows the same itinerary, but there are two judges per section. On the first two rounds, each judge may grade individually. However, on the third round, both judges must agree to one score for each contestant in their group. An estimate of about 100 students attend Regional tournaments. Placing in approximately the top 20% will qualify a student for the State Finals. You are graded by quality points.
- State tournaments can last two days for schools willing to come a day earlier, or if a participating school has students who will help with the organization of the competition. States are usually held at a participating college, The College of Wooster being most popular. Students are permitted to sleep in assigned dorm rooms, and meals are provided for those who request and pay for them. There are three rounds, each last for 45 minutes in which to respond to the prompt given. This tournament is the only one with a fourth "Power Round" and allows 30 minutes to respond to the prompt. You must qualify for this round by being in the top 54 writers of your grade level. Like the District and Regional competitions, the prompts are graded by Quality Points and Rank Points, however your overall placing depends on quality points instead of rank points like the other two tournaments.
- There is often a guest author/influential speaker that speaks during state tournaments.
- The winner of Power of the Pen is granted with a scholarship to the College of Wooster.
During a tournament, each Power of the Pen member receives a four-digit number, which they are to use as identification instead of their names to prevent potentially biased judging. The first two digits are letters, remaining consistent throughout the school's team. The third digit is specific to the student's grade (7 for 7th grade, 8 for 8th grade), and the final digit is based on the alphabetical order of students from that school/grade.
Each round consists of one prompt. Neither the writers nor the judges know what that round's prompt is going to be, and it is very rare for the writer to have ever even seen it before during practice sessions at school. As soon as the prompt is written down in a place for all in the room to see, the writer has 40 minutes (with the exception of States, which provides only 45 or 30 minutes) to write a narrative that has relevance to or includes the prompt. Some team coaches encourage writers to set aside about 5 minutes to think up a rough outline of the beginning, middle, and end. The details are filled in and improvised as the student writes. Finished copies are turned into the judge(s).
Each student has at least one score and rank per narrative. These items are both very different, and frequently confused with each other.
The writer's score, also known as his or her Quality Points is a numerical system used to establish the quality of the narrative.
- 100-94 points show a score of "Superior".
- 93-82 points show a score of "Honors".
- 81-75 points show a score of "Merit".
On your carbonated writing paper, the judge will show your score using the points above, but they will also circle a number between one and six. One being superior, which is the highest you can receive; six being the lowest score which would mean merit.
A note on the official Ballot states: An award of 100 quality points indicates the Judge's belief that the paper should be considered as a "Best Response" to the prompt. A score of 94-100, in Rounds 1-3, indicates the belief that the Contestant is Finalist Caliber.
A scale of 1-6 is used in each room, as there are only 6 writers at most. A rank of 6 represents the most ill-addressed to the prompt narrative, whereas a 1 represents the best and most creative of the six writers. Two writers may not receive the same score. Also, if one contestant has better rank points than the other, than he or she must also have better quality points.
Much confusion is usually related to the difference of the two. If, for example, a person was awarded a "1" on their narrative; he or she still could have earned a low score of 80 or so. Earning a 1 only means that the response to the prompt was better than the other five and the story held higher quality.
Each tournament has winners who have scored higher than other students. The larger the tournament, the stiffer the competition.
- Districts and Regional
- Based on the judge's evaluations of their writers, winners are picked. The top 12 or 15 students (depending on the tournament size) win trophies or medallions according to their place, and the top 50% are allowed to go to the Regional tournament. Best of Round awards for Districts and Best of the Best awards for Regional (as described below) are awarded as well.
- Based on the judge's evaluations of their select writers, nominees are picked. The top 54 students
are allowed to participate in the final Power Round of Writing. This is then used to determine the winners. The top students win plaques according to their place. Best of Rounds, Best of the Best, and Best Response awards are rewarded as well.
- Judges grade on the best or most ill-fitted response to the prompt. Though not required, it is requested that students give their works a title. It is rumored to affect the score, though there is no verification or evidence that this is true. Medallions and trophies are also awarded. In addition, schools can win a Sweepstakes trophy for having the highest total number of points that both seventh and eighth grade teams scored. At Regional and State tournaments, it includes previous tournament's points added to the current points.
Best of Round
There is a Best of Round award given to the one person who all the judges agree had the best response to the prompt out of the entire grade's submissions. There are three forms of this award.
- Best of Rounds
- Six students in the tournament can win this award; three in seventh grade and three in the eighth grade. There can only be one winner per round, and there cannot be a tie for Best of Rounds. The prize is a notebook with a Power Of The Pen logo on the front. Students may write in these journals.
- Best of the Best
- At Regional tournament, the judges analyze the Best of Round entries from District tournaments and the Regional tournament. They then pick six (three for each grade) winners, who will receive a cash bond and have their writings published.
- Best Response
- At state tournaments, the judges pick someone who they think had the best response out of everyone in different areas (comedy, poetry, horror, etc.). If held at The College of Wooster, the student(s) may receive a scholarship to Wooster. There are also State and Regional Best of the Best Awards.
- Director's Choice
- The director, Lorraine B. Merrill, may choose several prompt responses as Director's Choice or Director's Best of Round writings. The writers receive notebooks with blank pages, and often choose to copy their Director's Choice prompt into it. One of the Director's Choice prompts receives a Best of the Best, and is featured in that year's Book of Winners.
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The Pen is mightier than the Sword :
- The power of a pen is much larger than that of the sword, which means, the power of writing is stronger than the power of war, hatred, and conflict.
- While the power of sword ends with death, loss, and destruction, the power of a pen brings in inspiration, motivation, and transformation to the soul.
- A sword conquers the physical existence of a man while the men conquer the mind and heart of people.
- Control over people should be achieved through their minds and not against their will at force. This is why a sword can never be mightier than a pen.
The Pen is mightier than the Sword : (Short Essay)
The pen is mightier than the sword is a famous adage speaking about the power of writing. A pen can achieve a lot more than a sword does. It means that the power of writing is eternal while the power of the sword is short-lived. For instance, the great achievements of Alexander, Napoleon, and other rulers ended up in oblivion. However, the great preaching and writings of philosophers and authors have lasting effects that live forever in the hearts of people. This is why it is said that a king can rule only his kingdom but a scholar rules the world with his writings.
In short, it might be easy to control through armed forces, but that will only be a temporary victory as it becomes ineffective when another mightier force enters. But when you conquer someone through their heart and soul, it lives until their breath, continuing forever in the form of writing to generation after generation. This is why it is said that a pen is mightier than a sword.
The Pen is mightier than the Sword : (Brief Essay)
Through this famous adage, it is clear to compare the power of pen and sword to one another. A sword is hailed for its great valor and success but a pen is simple and its success cannot be determined through physical means. While the strength of a warrior lies in his sword the strength of a scholar lies in his pen. Here, the pen is equaled to books and writing while the sword is equaled to war. The power of the sword ends in loss, defeat, and destruction because of the incurring death and loss. On the other hand, the power of a pen brings transformation into the readers through inspiration and motivation.
Books are considered the treasure house of knowledge. In that sense, a pen creates and imparts something worthwhile into the readers. However, a sword or war brings nothing but violence into the world. When compared with a pen, a sword is in no way powerful in influencing people. While great rulers can force and conquer people, they can never conquer the hearts of the people. It can be only done by writers.
The proverb simply suggests that the scholars and writers invisibly exercise greater influence on people than warriors and rulers. Actually, the art of writing is considered stronger than the act of war. This is because the glories of the sword cause misery and does not last forever, while the influence of writing is omnipotent, guiding nations for years ahead.
Thus, the proverb celebrates the power of writing and highlights that scholars are powerful through their words than warriors.
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