BV junior named finalist in Argenta writing contest
By Kelby Newcomb
Berryville High School junior Erica Batres was one of three finalists in the Argenta Reading Series High School Writing Contest.
The winner received a $1,000 scholarship, and Batres and the other finalist each received a $500 scholarship.
According to ArgentaReadingSeries.com, the Argenta Reading Series was launched in January 2017 with the goals of connecting writers directly with their audience, appreciating the written word and understanding the person behind those words better.
Batres said her story, “Mental Validity,” focused on a young woman who suffers from depression, anxiety and borderline anorexia. She said it started off as a class assignment, and her English teacher Krystle Lindsey introduced the students to the contest.
“I thought ‘I’m already doing this as a class assignment. I might as well turn it into the contest,’ ” Batres said. “They had a minimum of 1,000 words and a maximum of 3,000 words, so it was definitely a short story.”
She said she and the other finalists read their stories at the Argenta United Methodist Church in North Little Rock on Saturday, March 30.
“We all stood up there and read our stories and then posed with the giant check,” Batres said. “It was a few hours from here but definitely worth it.”
She said she was a little nervous to read her story in front of the audience.
“Especially because mental illness is a sensitive topic,” she said. “I don’t know who there has suffered through it or if people would really understand it.”
Batres said she was glad she participated in the contest.
“It was one of the highlights of the year so far,” she said. “It was a very wholesome environment because everyone was so kind and welcoming. Even if I messed up, people wouldn’t point it out.”
She said the audience listened closely to each story.
“Everyone put their cell phones down. There were no distractions or anything,” she said. “After the reading, we took a 15-minute break for them to decide the finalist, and everyone came up to you to let you know how they felt about your story.”
Batres said she plans to continue writing in the future.
“I want to have a career, but I also want to be a writer in the free time i have,” she said, “and hopefully kind of build off of that and see where I can go from there.”
Batres continued, “I originally said I would use the scholarship for cosmetology school when I entered the contest, but I realized that’s something I don’t think I’ll be content with for the rest of my life.”
She said she is now considering social work or something in the psychology field.
“It was a wonderful experience, and I hope I get to do it again next year,” Batres said.