2016 JJLS Valentine Essay Contest Winners

“He had not meant, when he started the whole thing, for it to become such a big operation, such a production. But from the moment he had first stepped inside Woolworth’s with his mind made up and had gone to the candy counter and silently picked out the box, that was what it seemed to become nevertheless. And now, with it the last day before Valentine’s Day, and Woolworth’s ready to close up in just a few minutes, everything couldn’t have been worse.”

So opens “The Valentine,” a short-story by James Jones that explores the heart-breaking vulnerability of youth.

High School winners of the annual James Jones Literary Society’s “The Valentine” essay contest were recently announced by Chairperson Diane Reed. Jones’s short story tells the anguish suffered by a shy middle school boy who secretly vows to shows his love for his crush, the most popular girl in his class. After reading and discussing the story, students are asked to write an essay of at least 500 words reflecting on their reaction to it.

Congratulations to the 2016 winners from these eastern Illinois high schools :

First Place

Sydney Hoggatt, Marshall High School

Mykaela Patterson, Robinson High School

Second Place

Vance Oetjen, Marshall High School

Elaina Llewellyn, Robinson High School

Third Place

Alexandra Gower, Robinson High School

Lane Brown, Marshall High School


Above:  Winners of the Valentine contest from Marshall High School and sponsors are, are from left: Amy Gard, sponsor; Sydney Hoggatt, first place; Megan Wilkinson, honorable mention; Kai Durflinger, honorable mention; Lane Brown, third place; Vance Oetjen, second place; and Alyson Thompson, presenter on behalf of the JJLS.


Above:  Winners of the Valentine contest from Marshall High School included, from left: Garrett Blagrave, honorable mention; Alexandra Gower, third place; Mykaela Patterson, first place, and Paige Stewart, honorable mention.

Above, left, is Elaina Llewellyn, second place from Robinson High School. At right is Diane Reed, chairperson of the JJLS Valentine Essay Contest, and Mykaela Patterson, first place winner from Robinson High School.


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