Contest W3: Yearbook Copy Writing


You will be writing a yearbook feature story. The story should be approximately 400 words. With the aid of computers this year, we are able to enforce this. Please do not write longer than the word limit.

Please use the information provided below. The writer should determine which information is relevant and important to the story. Students may use dictionary, thesaurus and/or the Associated Press style manual.

When you submit, you will simply be submitting plain text. Formatting such as italics, bold and underline will not transfer. Also, paragraph breaks will not transfer. To show the judge your intention to create a paragraph break, please use this double-backslash symbol: //  For instance, a passage with two paragraph breaks would look like this:

The school board reversed the policy with an 11-1 vote. // “I disagreed with the decision, but I lost this time,” said board president Yvonnes Nulton. // The policy will go into effect at the start of next school year.




This contest is meant to be completed individually. Please refrain from seeking help from others while completing this contest.

Failure to follow these directions may result in disqualification from the contest without refund. Please read and follow carefully. 

  1. Read over the prompt presented below. The writer should determine which information is relevant and important to the story.
  2. While writing, you may use resources like the AP Stylebook, an online style guide or a dictionary/thesaurus. 
  3. Use whatever technology works best for you while writing your draft. This could be pencil and paper, your cell phone, your computer, etc. Do whatever you’re most comfortable with.
  4. Do not include your name or your school’s name anywhere on your final draft.
  5. Type up the final version of your story and submit it.
  6. Please do not share your draft, notes or ideas about the prompt with others until after the competition deadline.

Here is a link to this contest’s judging rubric.


You are a member of Sunflower High School’s journalism staff. Your editor has asked you to write a story for the yearbook.


  • Name: Sunflower High School
  • Location: Clinton, Kansas
  • Mascot: Mighty Buffalo
  • Enrollment: 800 (grades 9-12)
  • School colors: yellow and brown
  • Yearbook: The Sunflower
  • Newspaper: Sunflower News

Contest Info

  • This is an on-site contest. 
  • Do not put your name on the entry. If you do, your entry will be disqualified.
  • Students must not request help or advice from any person other than the KSPA Executive Director Eric Thomas at [email protected], and that advice must be requested before the start of the contest.
  • All work must be solely that of the contestant.

Prompts will be visible at 3 p.m. April 16

Contest W3

A new literary magazine called The Sunflower Shadow was started at Sunflower High School this year. They publish original short stories, poetry, and essays by students, and have a section for literary reviews. 


From sophomore Marcel Dobrev, co-editor of The Shadow 

  • “I’ve always loved reading, but always struggled to find a genre that I really loved. Then, in Mr. Rothesberg’s class, we read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and I fell in love with the horror genre. I don’t just like it because I think it’s scary. I find it really beautiful too.” 
  • “I sat next to Cressida in Mr. Rothesberg’s class last year. We didn’t really know each other, but started talking about how we both read Frankenstein recently and became instant friends.”
  • “Cressida came up with the idea for The Shadow. She started reading a lot of literary magazines last summer and thought we could make one of our own. I was supportive, but never thought we’d come as far as we have. I’m really proud of the team for making this a reality.” 
  • “I’d say I do a lot of the planning and Cressida reviews all the pieces for the magazine. It’s a good balance. We work well together.” 
  • “When we received our first part of the Seen story we knew it was going to be a hit. The mystery behind the author and drawing inspiration from his or her fellow students made for a story every student could read.” 

From sophomore Cressida Conway, co-editor of The Shadow

  • “The Shadow is the only way I feel I can truly express myself. I love to create, but am terrible at drawing, so I use words as my medium. Not everyone understands it, and that’s okay, because I understand it. The Shadow has given me a way to create something beautiful in my own eyes.” 
  • “I got the idea for The Shadow from my older brother. He’s a junior at Sunflower State University and is studying English. He would always bring home literary magazines, so one day I decided to take a look. It was all the things I loved to read packaged into one convenient magazine. I knew I could make something like that. I just needed the right people to help me with it.”
  • “Marcel has been great to work with. He is really supportive of my ideas, no matter how crazy they sound. He’s also really organized which helps keep us moving at the right pace. I’m so thankful for him. I could never keep all those details straight.”  
  • “The Seen author changed the game for The Shadow. Before the first story, we had published two issues and were having trouble capturing the attention of the students. After we received the first anonymous story our subscriptions and sales spiked. I hope the author will continue to write for us after he or she concludes Seen. The author is extremely talented and I really want to read more of his or her work.” 

From junior Derek Pupillo, photo editor of The Shadow

  • “What does a photo editor do at a magazine dedicated to words? Get really creative. Unlike other photographers, I can’t just snap a picture of the subject of a story. This is fiction we’re working with! I’ve created my own studio in my basement where we do a lot of staging to get intriguing and artistic photos to pair with our stories.”
  • “Besides photos, I contribute a lot of original art pieces to the magazine as well. I like abstract art the best. It helps me clear my head. My favorite thing to do when I finish a piece is figure out an interesting way to photograph it for The Shadow. It’s a fun way to combine my two favorite art forms.” 
  • “I’ve started my own little investigation into who the Seen writer could be. Besides the people on The Shadow staff, there aren’t too many student writers I know of besides those on The Sunflower newspaper staff. I have a few leads, but if I ever figure out who it is I’ll keep his or her secret. I just want to know for my own personal satisfaction.”

From sophomore Natalia Chevsky, designer of The Shadow

  • “Designing for The Shadow has been awesome. The magazine is super dark and edgy, so it was fun coming up with a visual theme to match it.”
  • “I do a lot of page designing, but we have one to two features every issue that I get to create original graphics for. Those are always my favorites.”
  • “My favorite feature we’ve done was an extensive look into Edgar Allen Poe’s tragic life. I got to create a lot of ravens, gravestones, broken hearts and black cats. We reuse those graphics a lot now.” 
  • “I wish I knew who the Seen writer is. The author is so talented and I really want to put a face to the genius behind these stories.”

From senior Alexander Spencer, head of literary review for The Shadow 

  • “I would consider myself one of the most opinionated people you’ll ever meet and that’s why I was born to write reviews. I’ve always loved to read and watch movies or short films. I started leaving reviews on IMDb and Goodreads when I was 10 and haven’t stopped since.”
  • “The title of my review section is Spencer Says… . I review old and new movies or short films, reader submitted poems, short stories or essays, and any new books I’ve read. I also have a suggestion box if readers want my hot take on anything under the sun.” 
  • “When Cressida and Marcel asked if I’d run the review section of The Shadow, I told them I’d need a sample of the magazine first. I can’t have my name tied to just anything! They gave me a mockup and I was obsessed. It was so edgy and a little goth… I was here for it.” 
  • “After reading the Seen stories, I gave out my first ever 10 star rating. The quality of writing, the mystery of the author’s identity and knowing you might be the subject of the next part created the perfect storm.”

From Jordan Rothsberg, freshman English teacher at Sunflower High 

  • “I love to see my previous students really diving into literature like this. The Shadow is such a cool idea and something Sunflower High has never seen before.” 
  • “When The Shadow team asked me to serve as an advisor for their new literary magazine I was honored and accepted immediately. I give them free reign to write and work on almost anything they want, as long as it’s appropriate. My main job is to make sure we get our digital publication to the printer on time.” 
  • “Cressida and Marcel were some of my best students. You could tell they both had a passion for any form of literature and wanted to get the deeper meaning out of every piece. It’s not every day you have students in your classroom who ask you what you think the purple room symbolizes in The Masque of The Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe.”
  • “I actually do know who the Seen author is. This student came to me to ask if it was a good idea and if I could edit his or her work. I gave my wholehearted support and swore myself to secrecy. The author hasn’t told me if he or she will reveal his or her identity after the story concludes. We’ll just have to wait and see!” 

Facts from your research

  • The Sunflower Shadow, or “The Shadow” for short, was started by two sophomore students, Marcel Dobrev and Cressida Conway. The idea came after the two met in Jordan Rothsberg’s freshmen Literature class and bonded over their love for Edgar Allan Poe and Mary Shelley.
  • The Shadow has a staff of 5. Marcel and Cressida are co-editors, junior Derek Pupillo is the photo editor, sophomore Natalia Chevsky is the designer and senior Alexander Spencer heads the literary review section. All contribute to writing and collecting student pieces for the magazine. 
  • The Shadow releases their magazine on the 13th of every month (unless it’s a weekend) and typically features two original short stories, four original poems, two essays, two pieces of original artwork and a page for reviews on recent books, poems, podcasts and movies. 
  • The Shadow draws a lot of inspiration from gothic writers. After seeing the first issue, a student subscriber described the magazine as dark, gloomy, serious, and edgy.  The Shadow team liked the look and edgy reputation and decided to use that as the theme for the publication. 
  • The official colors of The Shadow are black, storm grey and deep plum. The symbol is a wilted sunflower. 
  • Jordan Rothsberg serves as the advisor for The Shadow. He advocated for funding from the school on behalf of the students and was granted a small budget to help start the magazine. He also manages communication with the printing and shipping companies.
  • Students can pay $5 for a magazine anytime, or can subscribe to receive a copy each month for $3.50/month. The Shadow staff uses this money to help cover additional printing and shipping costs. 
  • The Shadow currently has 102 subscribers and averages about 75 single purchases a month 
  • So far they have printed five magazines and are working on the sixth to be released in May 
  • The Shadow started gaining attention when an unnamed student writer began submitting a 5 part original story series titled Seen. The writer claimed to draw inspiration for the story from his or her fellow Sunflower High students, and, based on the way that they interacted with each other, dictated how the story would play out. The writer assured the readers that the subjects of the story were the writer’s friends and knew about the project. 
  • When The Shadow featured the first Seen story on January 15, they sold over 200 single purchase copies and subscriptions went up by 56 members that month