Blair 6th Grader Wins National Writing Contest

Christine McLaughlin with student Minal Saldivar

The Grand Prize Winner of Scholastic’s Raymie Nightingale Writing Contest is Blair 6th grader Minal Saldivar! As the top winner in this national contest, Saldivar has won a visit to Blair by noted young adult author Kate DiCamillo.

Blair English teacher Christine McLaughlin has submitted student writings for many local contests, but this was only the second time to enter a national contest. Saldivar and her 6th period English class will get to meet DiCamillo in Feb. 2017.

Saldivar recently moved to Pasadena from Houston, Texas. In her essay she recounted how she made a BFI (Best Friend for Infinity) in kindergarten, Izzy. The writing contest, in line with the theme of DiCamillo’s latest book, Raymie Nightingale, asked students to tell how a friendship enriched his or her life.

“This fall,” said McLaughlin, “students were working on narratives and had begun writing stories about their lives, drawing their houses, making heart maps—activities that sparked memories. I found the Scholastic Reading Club’s contest and it fit perfectly into what we were doing. Minal’s essay is beautiful. I love the part about tolerance—often people don’t learn that kind of wisdom even when they’re older.” McLaughlin sent in 130 student contest entries.

Saldivar wrote about how she and her friend Izzy had a falling out about religion, then resolved their differences and have remained friends ever since. Saldivar’s mother is from Pakistan and her father from Texas, and she grew up in Houston. “I forgot Ms. McLaughlin was going to enter my work in a contest! I just wanted to write about my first friend in kindergarten—and how my friendship with her made me more open-minded. After hearing [by text] that I had won, I had to sit through an entire class before going to see Ms. McLaughlin. When I reached her room, Ms. McLaughlin was standing at her door waiting for me. She told me she was proud of me and gave me a hug. It’s exciting to win. I wish I could share the experience with all my friends, including the ones in Houston.”

Blair High School, 1135 S. Euclid Ave. Pasadena, (626) 396-5820 or visit






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