Cullman siblings win 1st, 3rd place in APT Young Writers Contest

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Anna Kate Allcorn and her brother, John Luke Allcorn, pose with their Alabama Public Television Young Writers Contest awards. Anna Kate, in third grade, placed first, while John Luke, in kindergarten, placed third. (Heather Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Ever since she was in pre-school, Anna Kate Allcorn has wanted to write. Now a third grader, she has placed in the top three winners (for her grade) of the Alabama Public Television’s Young Writers Contest for the past four years. This year, her last year to compete, she brought home first place. Despite the fact that she can no longer compete, someone else is continuing the tradition: her younger brother, John Luke, won third place in the kindergarten bracket this year.

Anna Kate told The Tribune a bit about what the contest is, saying, “This contest is for young writers. It’s a chance for them to write books.”

She went on to talk about her experience competing for the past four years, saying, “When I was in pre-school, I saw the commercial and I really wanted to do it, but I had to wait another year until I could actually enter it in kindergarten. After that I just kinda kept going, and the funny thing was that I said, ‘I’m not gonna write another book,’ but I wrote another book. I won third place in kindergarten, and then first place in first grade, and then second in second grade, and then first in third grade.”

Her book this year, titled “Cherokee Girl,” tells the story of two time-traveling girls – one from modern day, the other a Cherokee native from colonial days – meeting each other and becoming curious about each other’s worlds. As a third-grade submission, her book had a limit of 300 words and needed at least five illustrations. Her family said she worked on this for about four months.

As a kindergarten submission, John Luke’s book only needed three illustrations and was limited to 150 words. He described his book as being inspired by the “symbol of America” (which is also the title of the book), saying, “It’s about an eagle, and it was kinda like something hit me from America and the flag. It just flew through me, and I put it in the book and it made me happy.”

His family said he worked on his story for a month, though he himself said it only felt like a few days.

John Luke said he plans to follow in his sister’s footsteps and enter the contest again next year, while Anna Kate said she will be looking for new contests and writing ventures.

“It’s so much fun to compete, but we’re also maybe thinking of doing other stuff with my writing,” she said.

Tanya Higdon-Allcorn, the children’s mother, said, “We’re just going to continue and let her write. She’ll come up with story ideas, and we’re just going to go ahead and publish them each year and have them as her collection. Then if she becomes a writer one day, we’ll have that for her to look back on.”

Tanya expressed how proud she and the rest of the family are of the children’s accomplishments, saying, “We’re just excited for both of them. We’re thrilled that they can be part of APT and have this achievement under their belts so young. We’re just super proud of them; they’re fantastic kids, and they’re definitely a treasure.”

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Heather Mann

heather@cullmantribune.com