Young author St. Francis student’s story tops in state

Published 10:08 am Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A St. Francis Xavier third-grader has won first place in a statewide writing contest, and will have the chance at a national prize.

“The Legend of the Unicorns” by 9-year-old Victoria Gong tells of a time when the mystical creatures roamed the earth, “healing infected trees, wounded animals and purifying dirty rivers,” along with granting wishes, said Victoria’s mother, Xin Gong.

The unicorn “gave herself up for one foolish wish,” a wish for gold, said Gong.

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Darrell L. Lee of Mississippi Public Broadcasting, which sponsored the state portion of the 2010 PBS Kids Go! contest, said Victoria’s entry “was the most impressive out of all the entries in the third grade.”

The story “just sort of popped in my head,” said Victoria, who spent less than an hour penning the tale.

“She got an idea, and she wrote it down,” said her mother. “Then she started drawing and other things. I told her, ‘It was really simple, but I like your work.’”

“Her illustrations were beautiful and creative,” said Lee, “and her story was original and really impressed our panel of guest judges…and even had a few of them tearing up.”

Victoria’s teacher Brenda Kalusche said she is a conscientious student: “I think she is an exceptional writer. She was writing very well — even at an early age.”

MPB will record Victoria reading her story aloud on June 11 — something she’s not looking forward to: “I’m sort of shy.”

Each state winner will be honored at a reception, and her story, along with other first-place winners from across the country, will be judged nationally, Lee said.

In addition to writing and drawing, Victoria plays piano.