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Incredibly frustrated with the Scholastic Awards process at our local level!


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My daughter entered the regional Scholastic writing competition this year for the first time and it has been nothing but frustration and total chaos!

 

1) Entry deadline was in early December, so she uploaded her materials and we mailed the check as required by our regional person, in plenty of time to meet the deadline. There is no option to provide payment online, had to be a check mailed or dropped off in person, but the office is in downtown 45 minutes away and parking and traffic are horrible. Somewhat irritated that in 2016 there is not an online option for payment, but we can deal with it.

 

2) Just before Christmas, we receive our check back in the mail because there was no one at that address (which was printed on the entry materials). Check the website and the address is now different on the entry materials. Coordinator is in the public school system, which of course means no one is around until January, so, to do what she could, my daughter sent off a replacement check immediately with a note explaining what had happened and asking if her writing would still possibly be judged, along with an email to the coordinator saying the same thing and that the check was coming, so that it would be on the woman's desk as soon as she returned to school. 

 

3) Find out that we were not the only ones in this situation because of the error in printing on the entry materials and she would be judged. Great, somewhat frustrated but happy that her entry would be included.

 

4) Late January, start seeing local schools listing their award winners, but have heard nothing, nothing in her Scholastic account. She sends an email to the contact person asking about the process for notifying homeschoolers in case she may have received something. The next day we get an email with attachments "to teachers of gold key winners," "invitation to the silver key exhibit," and "instructions for special award winners," and referencing the email we should have already received as her teacher. We hadn't received any previous email or communication, and still no information on what or whether she had won anything. Tried to call the contact person to clarify, but got someone else's voicemail (turned out to be the assistant to the coordinator, but no way to know that, no indication this person had any relation to the process at all). Took three days of calling around to finally get a third person to answer and say that my daughter got an honorable mention, only gold key people could come to the ceremony, and they'd mail her certificate later after the ceremony (which took place on Feb. 4).  At this point, we still don't have anything in writing that says she actually got this. Not being very trusting of any info at this point, I asked for something that officially said she had this so that we could put it on her resume. We get an email from the coordinator that she has an honorable mention and figure that's finally the end of the process. More frustrated, happy she got an honorable mention, bit bummed she won't be able to apply for scholarships for summer writing programs (gold and silver key winners only), and we wait for the certificate.

 

5) Today, March 6, we get the certificate and pin for her honorable mention-----*and* a certificate and pin for her silver key! She only entered one piece of work, so this makes zero sense, aside from being told that she only had honorable mention. The enclosed program from the gold key ceremony has her listed in both silver key and honorable mention. The deadline for applications to be considered for summer writing program scholarships for gold and silver key winners was March 1. What the heck?!!!!!!! Now I don't know if she actually got a silver key or not, much less whether there's any way to still apply for the scholarships if she did. I've put in a call to the coordinator to hopefully get some clarification and I am well past frustrated and into ticked off territory!

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:grouphug:  Ug! So sorry this has been such a mess. Perhaps consider contacting the summer writing scholarship program asap and explain your situation, and see if they will allow you to apply?? 

 

I have a call in to the coordinator for the local program and have sent an email this evening to the overall program asking about that very thing. I'm not clear whether the scholarships are done on a regional level or not. Believe me that they will be receiving another phone call at the local level if I don't hear something by about 10:30 tomorrow morning. We didn't get the mail until we got home at 5 pm, so I had to leave a message rather than talk to someone today.

 

It burns me up that they had to have had this information prior to printing the program for the Feb. 4 event, so should have been able to give it to me when I raised Cain about not getting any clear info in late January. I'm really disgusted because the writing camp that my daughter would love to attend (Shared Worlds) is part of the scholarship opportunities. She was able to go two years ago because her grandparents paid for it and it was really life-changing to her writing, but they can't pay for it again. There's no way she could go without a scholarship.

 

My daughter said she guessed that meant we wouldn't be applying to the competition next year. I told her she should absolutely apply, but better believe I will be on top of every step. Trust has been totally lost that they are actually set up to adequately communicate with homeschoolers.

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Finally have resolution. It turns out that she did *not* get a silver, and they have no idea how her name got on the computer list for that, which led to the printing in the program and the issuance of the certificate and key. So, we are back to honorable mention and just threw away the silver materials, as she's not going to claim something she didn't actually earn. National confirmed that she was in the database as honorable mention and also basically said that they would not accept any applications for summer scholarships after the deadline, period, regardless.

 

I have had a long conversation with yet another person involved in the local affiliate, outlining all the ways in which our experience suggested their system was broken, particularly for homeschoolers, and gave strong suggestions for making things better for next year. At least this time it didn't take three days for them to get back to me. Excuses for the various issues ranged from having moved their office for the first time in 18 years, switching off the writing to someone new rather than keeping it all together, errors on the part of the national program, to they flat don't know what happened, but they're very sorry for the confusion.

 

We'll see what happens next year. At least I will be going in with a better idea of how the system is supposed to work. The whole thing has been a roller coaster!

Edited by KarenNC
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What a mess! So sorry your DD did not earn a higher ranking, but glad you "bull-dogged" this issue and brought up the problems and some ideas for fixing the problems. Hopefully that will help your DD for next year's competition, as well as others who may have been sweep away with wacky results, too!

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