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Student takes first place in contest
First in Dawson to take honor
Fair Bear pic
Michaella Cooper, 11, became the first ever Dawson County student to be named as the grand-prizewinner of the Fair Bear Writing Competition, an annual statewide writing competition. She won $350, a plaque, a certificate, a stuffed Fair Bear and an all expense paid trip to the Georgia National Fair in Perry. - photo by Photo/Submitted

Dawson County has never had the honor of having a local student take first place in a statewide writing competition, until now.


Michaella Cooper, 11, became the grand prize winner of the Fair Bear Writing Contest on Oct. 4, during the Georgia National Fair in Perry.


“I was so surprised that I won. I can’t believe my story went so far,” said Cooper.


“Her imagination won it for her. She is just so creative,” said Angela Cooper, Michaella Cooper’s mother. “I am just so proud.”


Since Cooper is the first Dawson County student to take first place in a competition of this sort, the Dawson County Board of Education plans on honoring her with a recognition ceremony at the board’s Nov. 10 meeting. She will read her award-winning story to the board and all the attendants.


“We’ve never had anyone win the entire competition before. This is quite a testament for Michaella, as well as Black’s Mill. We are beyond proud,” said Nicky Gilleland, superintendent of schools.


The Fair Bear Writing Contest is for Georgia fourth, fifth and sixth graders, whose creative writing story must pass through three separate competitions before qualifying for the sole grand prize winner. The contest begins in individual classrooms across the state.


Winners are selected from each grade and move on to the county competition.


Winners from each grade from the county competition go on to the state competition. Out of the state winners, one contestant is chosen to be the grand prize winner, which is announced at the Georgia National Fair each year.


The competition started in 1994.


Contestants must make up a story about Fair Bear, the Georgia National Fair’s mascot, winning a blue ribbon.


“I won out of 157 counties of fourth, fifth and sixth graders as the grand prize winner. I just didn’t see it coming.” said Cooper.


Cooper was awarded $350 and Black’s Mill Elementary, the school she attended when she entered the competition, was awarded $400.


She also received a certificate, plaque, a stuffed Fair Bear and an all expense paid trip to the Georgia National Fair. 


But this is not Cooper’s first success with writing. In 2007, she won three writing contests, one of which was a countywide competition.


“I learned when you’re writing to try your very best, and even if you don’t win, it’s a good thing to try hard,” said Cooper.