Something to write home about: Paradise scribes medal at state

By Austin Jackson | Published Wednesday, May 8, 2019
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Months of preparation came down to blank paper and a prompt as two Paradise students readied to pen their responses at the UIL Academics meet in Austin.

Hailey Holt and Cade Pearson chose their words wisely on the state stage, each earning third-place finishes.

Holt, after displaying her hard news chops with a fifth-place finish in news writing last year, switched gears to editorial writing.

Her calculated take on a student wearing a shirt that had guns and the phrase ‘I studied triggernometry’ printed on it earned her a third-place medal.

Holt said she wrote for her audience.

“I took the more liberal point of view because of the judges there,” Holt said. “I was against the shirt, since students were scared and all the shootings that have gone on at schools recently.”

Before she went into the competition, Holt’s goal was to finish in the top three. The feeling of taking home the third-place medal was pretty sweet, she said.

“It felt great,” Holt said. “I got fifth last year in news. So to go up like that, two spots, felt good. That was my goal, to get in the top three.”

Pearson also ventured into uncharted territory and came out with hardware with his performance in the state Ready Writing competition.

Pearson used his passion for ethics and reading in his essay, using literary references in his response to a prompt related to overcoming religious and ethnic intolerance.

“I went with explaining how throughout literature, history and natural principles that it’s possible for love to grow out of hate and for unity to grow out of chaos,” Pearson said.

Pearson used seven references in his essay. His two central examples he used were a universal parable of a seed having to be planted in the soil before it grows and a quote from Rumi, a Persian philosopher.

“I used, ‘the wound is the place where the light enters you,’ talking about how the bad stuff is where love, the good stuff and prosperity can grow from,” Pearson said.

The freshman said he was nervous entering the competition, considering his third-place finish in regionals. Once he saw the topic, he got excited.

“My performance in regionals kind of shook my confidence,” Pearson said. “I didn’t think I performed that well, I still got to go [to state] but I wasn’t that confident. But I really liked [the topic Mrs. [Whitney] Carter gave me some books to read about those topics, so I was expecting something along those lines. When I got there it was about what I usually talk about, which is ethics. So I was happy. I was expecting a prompt that I would struggle with, but the ideas flowed easily.”

Karen Bohmfalk said Pearson and Holt represented Paradise admirably on the state stage.

“I think they both illustrated the principle that if you’re good at something to begin with and then you work really hard, as they both did, you can achieve things in a small amount of time that you didn’t think you could do,” Bohmfalk said. “They prove that.”

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