Seventh and eighth grade students in Hillsborough County and invited to compete for a $500 prize for creative writing.

Seventh and eighth grade students throughout the Brandon area have an opportunity to exercise their imaginations and potentially profit from it. Entries are now being accepted to Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library’s fourth annual Stair Prize in Writing and this year, the contest asks students to write a creative story based on the prompt “When we left for the new planet.”

According to Lorie Tonti, Manager of Learning Experiences with Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library, the purpose of the contest is to promote an interest in creative fiction writing among students.

“The Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library system strives to foster cultural enrichment and celebrate local talent of all sorts,” said Tonti. “We hope these contests will encourage Hillsborough County children and teens to express and share their creativity.”

The contest began four years ago when residents Ralph and Lila Stair approached library representatives to propose a creative writing prize for students. The family fully funds the contest, including the $500 prize for the winner.

“The Stairs live in Colorado and Tampa and wanted to sponsor the writing prize in partnership with the Friends group at the Jan Kamini Platt Regional Library,” said Tonti. “Each year, they come to the library to personally award the prize-winner with a prize check and their congratulations.”

Seventh and eighth grade students at all county schools, including public, private, home school and parochial, are invited to participate and last year a total of 147 entries were received.

The short story must be 500 to 1,000 words and must be typed and include page numbers. Submissions are accepted in person at all Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Libraries or can be mailed to the Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library at Attn: Stair Prize in Writing Contest, 3910 S. Manhattan Ave. Tampa, FL 33611. The deadline for entries is Friday, October 19 at Midnight.
The winner is chosen by the Stair Prize Committee and each committee member reads all of the entries.

“We have been fortunate to have had excellent entries making the selection of one winner a painstaking process,” said Tonti.

For more information, call 273-3652 or visit

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Kate Quesada
Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.