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High School Writing Contest Presented by Wrightsville Beach Magazine

April 1 - April 5


The North Carolina Azalea Festival introduced a new contest in 2017, the High School Writing Contest, in an effort to reach out to more youth in the greater Wilmington area. High School students are invited to submit either a descriptive essay or poem using the prompt:  “Which traditions of the North Carolina Azalea Festival mean the most to you or the Wilmington, North Carolina community?”  Many thoughtful, interesting, and creative entries are received and judged by a local team of writers. Winners and finalists are selected from each category and receive various prizes from the Azalea Festival and outside the community.

High School Writing Application


2019 Winners

Essay Division:

Winner:  Abby Stone

Abby is a multi-talented 11th grade honor student from Wilmington Christian Academy.  She says her essay was inspired by her 5th-grade self who was selected to ride on a float in the Azalea Festival parade that celebrated the WCA Elementary Honor Society.  She is a self-taught ukulele artist, plays the violin, and sings in her school choir. She enjoys painting, playing volleyball, and hanging out with her cat and three dogs when she isn’t pursuing her musical interests.   Abby’s favorite subject in school is history because loves learning about the past and how it connects with the present and the future.  She is pondering her career options, leaning towards being a high school educator – a history teacher, perhaps.


Poetry Division:

Winner:  Madison Morrison 

Madison is a talkative, outspoken 11th grader at Wilmington Christian Academy, always eager to learn about people’s interests and to help others when she can.  She is a cheerleader at WCA and volunteers at NHRMC and with the Pretty in Pink Foundation in her spare time. She wants to be a pediatric oncologist, inspired by the doctor who treated her mother for cancer many years ago and always made sure that her entire family was “cared for” as well. She enjoys traveling with her grandparents and playing with her dog and 4 cats.   Her favorite subjects in school include chemistry, math, American history, and Spanish.

2019 Finalists

Essay Runner-up

  • Maria Smith, “Community Comes to Life,” Wilmington Christian Academy, 11th grade

Essay Honorable Mention

  • Gloria Macedo, “Azalea Petals”, Wilmington Christian Academy, 11th grade

Poetry Runner-up

  • Mairead Benson, “La Fleur Est Belle”, Hoggard High School, 9th-grade

Poetry Honorable Mention

  • Mia Marino, “Pinks, Reds, and Whites”, Wilmington Christian Academy, 10th grade

Azalea Feel

Abby Stone

10th grade – Wilmington Christian Academy


The fragrances of vibrant, blooming azaleas and mouth-watering street food intermingle in the air, tempting all who stroll by. An alluring array of artwork captivates passersby, bright hues impossible to be skipped over. Crowds wander through the annual street fair in droves, enticed by the eye-catching booths before them. The buzz in the air only grows stronger and stronger as the time for the parade comes. Citizens pack themselves like sardines to get a look at the festive floats. Azalea belles wave and smile at the onlookers, their dresses swaying in the breeze. Thousands of people gather together for the same cause:  to celebrate the scenic southern state of North Carolina, her mountains and beaches unrivaled. Communities from all across the Tarheel state swell with pride, seeing the diversity of talent and culture within their beloved home. There is no state which quite matches the homey, welcoming feeling of southern hospitality as this one. As the azalea flowers blossom and grow each year, so does this state. The azalea is known for its ability to survive, even when conditions are rough. Just as the flower, North Carolina, too, is resilient, determined, and unbreakable. She will never fall.


Views from an Azalea

Madison Morrison

11th grade, Wilmington Christian Academy


Buds, however hard they try,

Will always be young souls.

Petals soon unfold to display

My everlasting beauty.


My colors inclusive,

Stark white, like caps

On the ocean waves;

Fairest pink like cotton candy,

Nibbled by toddlers, oh so dear.

Brighter of pinks, adorning

The dress of a belle, as

Those adore her.


A Festival dedicated to me.

My scent encapsulates

A renewed sense of spring.

The Queen and her court,

Bejeweled with many of my trusses,

Are worthy of a king.


The touch of my petals

Often feel as velvet bundles,

That abound throughout

The festival grounds.


Find me spotlighted

In luscious gardens

And lining the streets of

Historic Wilmington.

Belles, like my blooms,

Young souls,

Youthful legacies with stories untold

As they are spotlighted

With me.


Past Winners:

2018: Essay Winner – Ashley Batista, Ashley High School

2018: Poetry Winner – Katherine Neilson, Laney High School

2017: Essay Winner – Sarah Newton, Topsail High School

2017: Poetry Winner – Karleigh Kolander, Laney High School



April 1
April 5
Event Category:


Coastal Children’s Services