Eagle Bank, newspaper sponsor student writing contest

By Kris Goracke


The first creative writing contest for Starbuck Heritage Days, a collaborative effort sponsored by Eagle Bank and the Pope County Tribune & Times, drew several entries from local children aged 10 to 12. The competition, made possible by the support of the sponsors, challenged participants to write a piece of flash fiction around the prompt, “How did the Starbuck Buck get its Star?”

The top three stories, each unique and creative, were awarded to Averi Kragenbring, first place; Willow Zavadil, second place; and Trinity Mahoney, third place. Honorable mentions went to Raeleigh Noyes, Alana Lowe-Flanagin, Selah Beecher, and Lindsay Dahlke.

The entries were judged by Kate Trombley and Anne Clark, two English instructors at Alexandria Technical and Community College. Clark praised all entries, “All of the entries were very cute,” she remarked. Clark noted she was particularly impressed by Kragenbring’s story, noting the effective use of imagery and dialogue that enhanced its creativity.

Flash fiction, the format for this contest, is a genre of super short stories that pack a punch in just a few paragraphs or pages. Despite their brevity, these stories follow a traditional structure of a beginning, middle, and end, challenging the writer to be creative and precise.

The winners received cash prizes, while those awarded honorable mentions were given gift certificates to Shirley’s Eats and Treats in Starbuck.  The three top stories are on display at the following Starbuck businesses over Heritage Days:  The Neon Loon, The Nutcracker, No Place Like Home, Samuelson’s Drug, Peddler Dan’s, The Water’s Edge and Eagle Bank – Starbuck.

The following are the top three stories:

First Place

The Buck Jumped Over 

The Moon

By Averi Kragenbring, Age 11

Once upon a time, there was a forest on the edge of where Starbuck now is, and in that forest there were lots of amazing animals.  Skunks, Bears, Squirrels, Rabbits, and lots more, but this story focuses on a very special Buck.

When he was a fawn, his mother would tell him a story about a cow jumping over the moon, and he would say: “I bet I’ll be able to do that when I’m older, after all if a cow can do it why can’t I?”  And his mother would laugh, and say: “Of course you can, go for it!”

Now this Buck was full grown, and had long since forgotten about the jumping cow.  One day as he was trotting along toward some yummy leaves that he saw, he heard a mother deer telling her fawn the same story.  He remembered what he had told his mother when he was just a fawn.  “Well I’m full grown now, so I’ll do it tonight,” he thought.  So he waited out the rest of the day, anxious for what he was going to do that night.  As the sun started to set and the moon started to rise, the deer found the big clearing he would need to get a clear path up and over the moon.  About 30 minutes later the moon was high in the sky, ready to be jumped over.

The Buck had invited some of his friends, so eventually word got around and lots of other animals came to watch as well.  The Buck backed up to where the clearing met the forest, and began sprinting toward the middle.  When he was about a quarter across the clearing he used all his energy and launched himself into the air, and man did he fly!  He went so far over the moon he when up into the stars, and got one caught in his antlers.  When he came back down the star was still in his antlers, twinkling gently as if it was still in the sky.  Every animal there gathered around to get a good look at the star.  Along with light the star also brought great joy to the Buck, then he looked up at the sky and said, “Thanks Mom, for always believing in me,” because he knew she was smiling down at him from heaven.

One year later the star was still between his anglers, but the star never bothered the Buck or annoyed him.  The Buck always felt proud and happy whenever he thought about it.  Now the Buck had a daughter, Nova, and her mothers name was Rose, he and his family were very happy.  “Daddy, will you tell me the story again, please?” Nova asked.  

“Okay.  Once upon a time there was a very special cow…”

The End.

Second Place

The Star

By Willow Zavadil, Age 10

There once was a buck named Buck! I know that sounds weird, but it will eventually make sense.

One day Buck was frolicking in the meadow with the other bucks, but they were bigger, stronger and bullied Buck. “Look at him, he is so tiny!” said one. “He could barely hit a tree with those antlers!” said another. 

Buck ran to the top of the hill crying that night. He suddenly looked at the sky. STARS! The stars were dancing above him when suddenly a star came right for him!! He closed his eyes expecting pain, but instead felt nothing?! Then he gazed into the pond to his right and saw a beautiful star in between his antlers. 

The next morning, he woke up two feet taller and could knock down an entire tree! The bucks saw him as superior and started to call him Starbuck. The name stuck and they eventually named the town after him.

The End

Third Place

How Starbuck Got It’s Logo

By Trinity Mahoney, Age 10

Once upon a time there was a buck named George. He was a strange buck always looking out for others which is not normal considering the fact he was a buck. Still he didn’t care, he was always kind and helpful to all! 

But the problem was some other bucks didn’t like what he did so when he was nice to them they beat him up in anger. But when they finished he just said very calmly I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. What was that I did that made you sad? They thought he was teasing them so they beat him up again! But George was only ever trying to be nice and didn’t understand why they hated him so much and eventually he just looked like a huge grape because they beat him up so much! 

Well one day everything changed George was just minding his own business when some buck just grabbed him and flew straight into the air George was shocked and scared of the powerful buck soon the buck landed on a cloud. Then he told George to get up and follow him as George did because he didn’t want to be hurt by the big buck. 

Soon they reached a big beautiful building made with the finest gold you could ever find! The buck told George to go get cleaned up and then meet him in the throne room. George got cleaned up as fast as he could excited to see what was going on in the throne room. As soon as he was ready he ran to the throne room and he met the same buck at the door he was waiting for George then they went together. 

The throne room was beautiful with purple curtains and gold lacing. Then he saw the king and queen and quickly introduced himself to which they said we know who you are. He was surprised by this because he was just a small buck in the little town in the middle of nowhere. They told him he was an amazing mentor to all bucks and should be honored so they asked him to come up with ideas on what to do. To which he said I was just being a decent buck why should I get an award for being kind. They were shocked when he said this because he was beaten everyday just because he was nice to everyone! They decided everyone should know about this kind and humble buck so he was gifted with a star to show he was the best overall! That’s not all,  they named the town after him!   The End! 

Moral:  Always be kind to everyone and be humble.