The Storytellers of Tomorrow Writing Contest

The 8th Annual "Storytellers of Tomorrow" High School Creative Writing Contest

The Ringling College of Art and Design Creative Writing Program was created to support, empower, and honor young writers. It’s an exciting time to be a writer thanks to the increasing number of narrative possibilities that new technologies and media offer. We believe that well-told stories can speak truths and communicate ideas in a way that nothing else can.

To that end, we’re inviting all high-school-age students to submit unpublished, original English-language stories of up to 2,000 words in length for the 8th Annual “Storytellers of Tomorrow” Contest. The sole criterion for earning prizes in this contest is simply overall quality, meaning that well-edited, engaging, and evocative stories have the best chance of winning over the judges. 

Contest entries will be accepted from October 15, 2022 through January 15, 2023. Watch for the forthcoming Google forms link here, which is the only valid way to submit. In the meantime, please read through the answers in the FAQs tab in preparation of your submission. Thanks, and good luck!

To receive reminders about this contest each year, please sign up here.
Please email with any questions.


Creative Writing Program
Dr. Ryan G. Van Cleave
2700 North Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34234

Prizes in Each Category

1st prize

  • $1,000
  • 1:1 consultation about your writing with a literary agent or editor
  • iPad for each winner’s high school writing teacher
  • Ringling College Creative Writing T-shirt


2nd prize

  • $100
  • Ringling College Creative Writing T-shirt


3rd prize

  • $50
  • Ringling College Creative Writing T-shirt


Honorable mentions

  • Ringling College Creative Writing T-shirt


Judges’ Award

One full-tuition scholarship to Ringling College’s 2023 summer PreCollege program ($6,200 value)


What EXACTLY are the three submission categories?

  • Submission Category 1: Literary Stories
    Examples of this type of writing? Short fiction/flash fiction set in the real world and that emphasize style, character, and theme over plot
    Examples of writers who work in this vein? Tim O’Brien, O. Henry, John Green, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Robert Olen Butler, and Lorrie Moore

  • Submission Category 2: Genre Stories
    Examples of this type of writing? Horror stories, fantasy stories, mystery stories, science fiction, thriller stories
    Examples of writers who work in this vein? Neil Gaiman, Edgar Allen Poe, J.K. Rowling, Ursula K. Le Guin, George R.R. Martin, Philip K. Dick, and Patricia Highsmith

  • Submission Category 3: Nonfiction Stories
    Examples of this type of writing? Autobiographical essays, personal essays, creative nonfiction (including very well-written, story-based travel writing, nature writing, science writing, and/or biography)
    Examples of writers who work in this vein? Lauren Hillenbrand (Unbroken), Jeannette Walls (The Glass Castle), Oliver Sacks (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat), John Burroughs (“In Mammoth Cave”), Chuck Klosterman (Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs), Jorge Luis Borges (“Blindness”), E.B. White (“Once More to the Lake”), and Annie Dillard (“Seeing”)

Will the contest entries be published?

The top winner in each category will be offered the opportunity for their work to be published in Shift, the Creative Writing Program’s literary arts journal. Beyond that offer of one-time publication, authors retain all rights to their stories.

What if I win first prize but don’t want my work published?
That’s a decision we will respect.

Can I submit to more than one category?
Yes. Though each piece can only win a prize in a single category so please send different pieces if you’d like to contend in more than one contest category.

Can I submit more than one entry for a single category?
No. It’s one entry per category per person. The maximum amount of entries anyone can send is three–one literary short story, one genre story, and one nonfiction piece.

You say you want “unpublished” work. What does that mean?
If you wrote something for a school assignment, that’s fine. If your piece ran in your school newspaper or school literary magazine, that’s fine too.

If your piece ran in a national periodical of any type (USA Today, Reader’s Digest, Boy’s Life, Seventeen, etc.)? That’s published. The same is true with posting your piece in online forums, blogs, and websites (personal ones or Wattpad). And if your piece was included in any textbook or anthology, that too counts as being published.

If you have any questions about this, please email us to ask.

I want to send in something different than a traditional short story. Can I do that?
Absolutely. While many submissions will be traditional short stories, we are also quite open to graphic narratives, scripts, picture book manuscripts, comics, and other literary forms/blends.

I’m a poet. Can I submit a poem?
You may submit anything you choose up to 2,000 words long, though poetry without an extremely strong narrative component likely doesn’t fit well in any of the submission categories. This is primarily a prose narrative contest.

What type of stories/subjects/themes do you want?
That’s entirely up to you, though a familiarity with the genre/style you’re writing in will surely be of help to you.

What are the judges REALLY looking for?
High-quality writing that engages the reader.

What are the common issues with most submissions?
Here are three of the top reasons most entries don’t make the cut.

  • Failure to follow the contest guidelines
  • Poor editing/proofreading
  • Cliché ideas/plots

I’m not an American citizen. Can I still submit?
If you’re a high-school-age student enrolled in a high-school curriculum and you’re writing in English? Yes.

I’m homeschooled. Can I enter the contest?
If you’re a high-school-age student enrolled in a high-school curriculum and you’re writing in English? Yes.

Is Ringling College associated with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus?
John Ringling was involved with the launching of the institution in 1931, but beyond that, we have no relationship to the circus beyond the association of his name. So the circus’ closing in 2017 had zero effect on Ringling College.

I’ve got a question that doesn’t seem to be answered anywhere. What do I do?  
Send in your question via email to with the subject line “Contest Question.”

Winners of the 7th Annual Storytellers of Tomorrow Contest!


First Place: “Seashells” by Miliana Walton, The Webb School (TN)
This illustrated short story exemplifies the interdisciplinary spirit both Ringling and the Creative Writing Program strive to achieve. The layered simplicity of a young woman’s trip to the beach and poignant conversations with some of the ocean’s most essential objects delves into the fulfillment and emptiness of brief spiritual connections.  

Second Place: “The Magician” by Fiona Lu, Hillsdale High School (CA)
From its memorable opening line to its fantastical conclusion, this short story masterfully combines magical realism with a gritty, pulp-like sensibility, reinforcing the very human need to take risks when exploring the mysteries of our world and beyond. 

Third Place: “Geidmann’s Quintessential, All-Complete Zoo” by Kylie Wang, Campolindo High School (CA)
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to go to an intergalactic zoo, this is the story to take you there. The rich, detailed descriptions lull the reader into a welcomed trance, making the surprise ending all the more powerful. 

Honorable Mentions:
(in alphabetical order)

  • “Eraser Marks” by Emma Alexander, Wantagh High School (NY)
  • “Project Memory” by Abigail Cushman, Westborough High School (MA)
  • “The Kraken” by Bailey Fouraker, Florida Virtual School (FL)
  • “Pindrops of Scarlet” by Caroline Grier, John Jay High School (NY)
  • “Holiday Barbie” by Tien Hoang, J.R. Tucker High School (VA)
  • “Sights of the Eye” by Abby Hwang, Notre Dame High School (NJ)
  • “The Library of Rejections” by Serafina Hwang, Northgate High School (CA)
  • “Angel Graves” by Skylar Maranto, Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology (VA)
  • “Self Defense” by Joey Qi, Lowell High School (CA)
  • “Misfire” by Ulyana Sharapova, Magic Castle School (Russia)
  • “The Hall of Mirrors” by Alexandra Volkova, Bergen County Academies (NJ)
  • “Untitled Document” by Daria Volkova, New Trier High School (IL)
  • “Quicksand” by Bill Yang, Germantown Friends School (PA)


First Place: “Save Face” by Madeline Chun, The Hockaday School (TX)
This chilling first-person tale plunges the protagonist into a pool of raw honesty, allowing the reader to wade side-by-side in the deep seas of complex parental relationships.  The author harnesses a rare boldness seen only in fine storytelling and surprises the reader with moments of gobsmacking detail. 

Second Place: “Writing Myanmar” by Matt Hsu, San Francisco University High School (CA)
Experimental in form, this lyrical and captivating collection of vignettes follows a young Burmese poet as he attempts to make sense of daily life in the world around him with a family who is oceans away.  

Third Place: “Lists, Brunettes, and Poptarts” by Jordan Shaevitz, Princeton High School (NJ)
Deftly weaving between second and third-person point of view, this story packs a punch in its simplicity.  The author is a minimalist in style and a powerhouse in emotion as they commission their main character to embark on a sincere yet frank quest for truth and origin. 

Honorable Mentions:
(in alphabetical order)

  • “Congratulations” by Ruby Arthur (NYC)
  • “What It Means to Be Living” by Shem Brown, The Kinkaid School (TX)
  • “Vines” by ChiaYu Chou, Shanghai SMIC Private School (China)
  • “Things She Told Me” by Anna Ferris, Fox Chapel Area High School (PA)
  • “For You Alone” by Tony Foote, Cheney High School (WA)
  • “Flight” by Sophia Hall, Holton Arms (MD)
  • “Why Birds Crash into Windows” by Natalie Hampton, Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (TX)
  • “Diet Mountain Dew” by Jenny Hu, Seven Hills School (OH)
  • “Every Room” by Miceala Morano, Haas Hall Academy at the Jones Center (AR)
  • “Mother” by Sakshi Umrotkar, Mission San Jose High School (CA)


First Place: “Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle in Quantum Mechanics” by Samantha Liu, Ridge High School (NJ)
Rhetorically rich and sophisticated in its structure, this account of the troubled relationship between two siblings brims with heart, humor, and melancholy.

Second Place: “Saturn Devouring his Child” by Jenny Hu, Seven Hills School (OH)
The author engages the senses in a way that is both beautiful and unsettling, and their deft use of allusion adds a brightness to the piece, keeping the tone serious without feeling heavy. 

Third Place: “lowercase moments” by Lucille Elliott, Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology (VA)
In language as unassuming as its title suggests, this short piece doesn’t flinch in its examination of the effects of grief on a family.

Honorable Mentions:
(in alphabetical order)

  • “stories from the street that raised me” by Emma Jade Cantrell, A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts (FL)
  • “Handiwork of a Lazy Priest” by Travis Cooper, Sequoia Choice Arizona Distance Learrning (AZ)
  • “I Am From…” by Sade Copeland, Leon High School (FL)
  • “Cougar” by Avery Gendler, Interlochen Arts Academy (MI)
  • “The Buddha’s Belly” by Sophia Hall, Holton Arms (MD)
  • “The Last Indian” by Pranav Mukund, Greenhill School (TX)
  • “The Problem with Peace and Birds” by Brooke Nind, Westlake High School (CA)
  • “Daily Lives With Cognitive Biases” by Ayla Holland, Palmetto High School (FL)
  • “A Conversation with God” by Melissa Uchegbu, Alpharetta High School (GA)
  • “Middle School Feud with Time” by Sakshi Umrotkar, Mission San Jose High School (CA)



Director of Library Services


Claire Powell

Digital Curation and Special Collections Librarian


Janelle Rebel

Technical Services Librarian   


Janet Thomas

Instructional Design Librarian


Claire Powell

Instructional Design Librarian





Alexandra Vargas-Minor

Library Technician III (Cataloging and Metadata Assistant)   


Lisa Martinez

Library Technician II (Periodicals and Interlibrary Loan)



Library Technician III (Circulation Manager)  


Tim DeForest

Library Technician III (Acquisitions Manager/Office Support)  


Yolanda Coleman

Library Technician II (Assistant Circulation Manager)  



Assistant Circulation Manager


Christina Song

Circulation Assistant 


Jean Ferderber

Circulation Assistant Sooyeon Baek


Patron Type # of Items Type of Material Borrowing Time
Student 40 Books 3 weeks
CDs and CD-ROMs 3 days
DVDs and Blu-Ray 3 days
Magazines (unbound) 3 day
Magazines/Annuals (bound) 5 days
Videogames* 7 days
Faculty and Staff 40 Books 6 weeks
CDs and CD-ROMs 3 days
DVDs and Blu-Ray 7 days
Magazines (unbound) 3 day
Magazines/Annuals (bound) 5 days
Videogames* 7 days
Trustee, Alumni, Cross College Alliance, and  15 Books 3 weeks
Ringling College LibraryAssociation Members CDs and CD-ROMs 3 days
DVDs and Blu-Ray 3 days
Magazines (unbound) 3 day
Magazines/Annuals (bound) 5 days
Videogames* N/A
PreCollege 5 Books 3 weeks
CDs and CD-ROMs 3 days
DVDs and Blu-Ray 3 days
Magazines (unbound) 3 day
Magazines/Annuals (bound) 5 days
Videogames* N/A
Local Teacher 15 Books 3 weeks
CDs and CD-ROMs 3 days
DVDs and Blu-Ray 3 days
Magazines (unbound) 3 day
Magazines/Annuals (bound) 5 days
Videogames* N/A
Chartwell’s and Follett employees located at Ringling 15 Books 3 weeks
CDs and CD-ROMs 3 days
DVDs and Blu-Ray 3 days
Magazines (unbound) 3 day
Magazines/Annuals (bound) 5 days
Videogames* N/A
*The video game collection supports the research and teaching of the Game Art & Design program. Video games may not be checked out by Alumni, Ringling College Library Association members or Family members.


The Alfred R. Goldstein Library features a wide variety of quiet, group study, and work process spaces. Looking for a quiet study area? Make your way up to the 3rd floor to look for a book in the Research Collection or peruse the new art magazines while relaxing in comfortable seating. When the weather is nice, you can take your coffee from Roberta’s Café on the first floor to one of the four terraces to work outside and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. Looking for meeting space to get together with a group? Check out the group study rooms, which are available on all three floors of the Goldstein Library. The 10 group study rooms are available to students on a first-come first served basis, or available for booking by Ringling College faculty and staff for group and class meetings.

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