Meet the Winners of the Anderson Park Short Story Contest!

Montclair, NJ – Friends of Anderson Park has named three winners in its annual short-story contest: Nola Kim from Buzz Aldrin Middle School, and Ana Mejia and Joonkyu Shim from Montclair Kimberley Academy. All of this year’s winners are sixth-graders. 

Winners of the Anderson Park Short-Story Contest are, from left: Nola Kim, Joonkyu Shim and Ana Mejia. Photo: Adam Grace/Friends of Anderson Park.

Nola Kim’s story, “Zoom Zoomy Zoom,” is an amusing, incisive take on a pandemic-era classroom; Ana Mejia’s “The Twisty Tree” is a poetic rendering of the stories that trees could tell; and Joonkyu Shim’s “Underground Secrets” is a geological mystery involving the man who donated the land for the park more than a century ago, Charles W. Anderson. The winners were among 26 entrants in grades six through eight.

“Middle schoolers must be at a magic point where they haven’t left behind the imagination of childhood for the certainty and cynicism of adults. I say that because every year their imaginations take us to fabulous places in wild and fascinating ways,” said Ann Anderson Evans, a coordinator of the contest, now in its fourth year, and a Friends of Anderson Park trustee. 

Winners each receive $100, and their stories will be read aloud at an awards ceremony at Watchung Booksellers in Montclair on Sunday, May 22, at 3 p.m. Their stories are also posted at

The judges were Judy Newman, president of Scholastic Book Clubs (and known to Montclair residents as “the Book Lady” for handing out books on Halloween);  Sharon Dennis Wyeth, author of award-winning books for children and young adults, including her recent “Evette: The River and Me” and the upcoming “Juneteenth: Our Day of Freedom”; Nancy Star, best-selling author of many books, most recently “Rules for Moving” and “Sisters One, Two, Three”; and Ann Anderson Evans, a former professor of freshman writing at Montclair State University and author of the award-winning memoir “Daring to Date Again.” 

Friends of Anderson Park in Montclair was founded in 2006 as a conservancy for the historic Olmsted-designed Essex County Park in Montclair. It is a non-profit dedicated to the stewardship of Anderson Park’s natural, cultural, environmental and educational qualities. Its primary mission is to protect and restore the spirit and integrity of the park’s nationally significant landscape. 

The contest will be run again next year, and students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades who live in Montclair or attend school in the town, including home-schooled students, are encouraged to keep an eye out for the announcement of the 2023 contest.

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