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It’s just the kind of thing our schools should be doing, and it’s worth taking time out to give a shout out for it.

This year marked the 30th anniversary of the Harford County Public Schools Young Author Writing Contest, and dozens of students were honored last week by the school system for their works of poetry and prose. Hundreds more participated.

We couldn’t agree more with Darlene Wontrop, literacy leader at Jarrettsville Elementary School, who made the following comments on the contest: “It’s a good venue for students in Harford County for writing.”

She went on to make a few observations about the craft, notably: “But writing’s not easy. It’s arduous work.”

Indeed it is. And it’s a skill that translates into many fields. Those of us in the newspaper field are particularly keen on the craft, but being able to put together a coherent letter, report or e-mail is a communications skill that has long been a hallmark of civilization.

With the advent of e-mail, and, to a lesser degree, text messaging, clarity in the written word is as important today as it’s ever been. Anyone who has ever received an ambiguous, but semi-urgent e-mail knows that all too well.

Thus, it’s good to know in a time when schools are busy teaching an array of things to our children — some arguably more valuable than others — the ever-valuable skill of writing remains an important part of the mix.

Also, congratulations to the winners of this year’s contest, and, more importantly, congratulations to all those who participated. Your interest in an important skill will serve you well.


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