Rowland fifth-grader finalist in nationwide character-creating writing competition

April 28, 2012 at midnight
Updated April 27, 2012 at 11:28 p.m.

It was one of those voluntary assignments - the ones easy enough to blow off, especially around spring testing time.

But Lauren Johnson put in the extra effort, and now, the fifth-grader at Rowland Elementary School has a one-in-five chance of going to Beverly Hills to meet professional skateboarder Tony Hawk.

"I just wanted to give it a shot for the fun of it. I didn't think I'd win," Lauren said.

At the prompting of her teacher, Kristine King, Lauren entered the Join the Revolution student writing contest. The nationwide competition tasked her with inventing a character that could appear in the action-adventure book series, "Tony Hawk's 900 Revolution."

The folks at the Revolution then created an avatar based entirely on the vision Lauren described. Lauren's character was selected as one of five finalists, which have been put up for a public vote on Tony Hawk's website.

The winner will receive a trip to Tony Hawk's Stand Up for Skateparks event, armed with a VIP pass to meet the famous skateboarder. The winner will also see his or her character in the next Revolution book.

"This assignment really made them kind of think about what traits a character might have," King said. "Knowing that what they were writing would be transformed into an image, they had to be descriptive."

Lauren named her character Tahlia. A skateboarder with a carrot-colored bob of hair, Tahlia doesn't mind dirt, never leaves home without her lucky keychain and usually wears a blue t-shirt and shorts, depending on the weather. She's outgoing, and an average student with lots of friends.

"I thought she wouldn't be a girly-girl. She'd be more like a tomboy," Lauren said.

The character isn't at all based on Lauren, who likes purple shirts and isn't much into skateboarding, she said.

"You just let your creative juices fly on that one," her teacher said, giving Lauren a proud nudge. King's face beamed just as much excitement as Lauren's, as the two remembered the day they called to tell Lauren's mom that her daughter had been named a finalist.

While the whole class enjoys entering contests - something King said gets students pumped up about applying the lessons they're learning - Lauren said she particularly likes writing competitions.

"It makes me feel, like, creative. People tell me I'm a good writer and stuff. I've been doing it for as long as I can remember," she said.

Lauren said she didn't know much about Tony Hawk when she entered the contest, but King had told her seeing a professional level of any sport would be a great opportunity.

And she trusts her teacher.

"She says he's cool," Lauren said, shrugging and smiling up at King.



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