McKinley Students See Their Words Become a Book as Grand Prize Winners

The assembled group of published authors, Marion Hunter, Noel Pennington, Julia Guglielmo, Russel Uvas, John Alajijian, Sara Cohen and Henry Keeneyalong with school Principal Bobbie Kavanaugh and Parent helper Shari Wendt during a book signing in the schools library. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

By Juanita Adame


The McKinley Elementary School auditorium was filled with cheers and applause on Thursday afternoon as students of Mrs. Angie D’Mello’s class were awarded the Grand Prize for the Scholastic Book Fair’s “Kids are Authors” contest.

The assembled group of published authors, during a book signing in the schools library. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The seven third grade authors: John Alajijian, Sara Coen, Julia Guglielmo, Marion Hunter, Henry Keeney, Noel Pennington, and Russell Uvas, began the project nearly one year ago.

“It feels great to see our book and just to imagine that we won,” said John Alajijian. “I learned through this project that it can actually be fun writing with other people.”

Saturday Watering

D’Mello said Shari Wendt, who was the Parent Project Coordinator, wanted to volunteer the classroom after she heard about the contest.

“I told her, how about I give you a group of kids who work well together, and are really motivated” she said.

“So she’d come once a week, give them little assignments and they’d talk about it, then discuss what ideas they had and then collaborate. It just worked out great,” she said.

Author and cover designer Russell Uvas receives kudos from Scholastic officials during the book signing event.(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

D’Mello also added that once the students came up with the story line, it was then about having the same ideas for illustrations to give the book some direction and rhythm.

Author, David Shannon told the kids at the awards ceremony that he really enjoyed their book and felt it was “very special and unique.”

“I’m never gonna see a dollar the same way again, I’m always going to wonder what its gone through,” he said.

“There is so much in it, you got history, geography, economics, and this new perspective there is even kind of a love story between the two”.

The book, which is titled, Two Dollars, One Wallet, follows a one dollar bill, and a gold Sacagawea coin living inside the pocket of a school custodian’s wallet.

“Part of it involved the perspective of the dollar and part of it is really familiar to me too,” said Shannon. “I think that is what makes a good story,”

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Shannon said he felt what also made the book such a success was because it was a familiar idea shown through a different perspective.

“Things you can identify with, things that you know really well, and then they are show to you in a new way, all in all, it was just a great story and congratulations to you kids!”

For more information on this book, visit






(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)


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