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3 out of 8 semifinalists in statewide writing contest from Lewiston High.

LEWISTON – Three of eight semifinalists in a statewide writing contest for high school juniors are from Lewiston, all students of English teacher Richard Townsend.

Lewiston students Cassandra Jensen, Lauren Landry and Lauren Rodrigue took part in the second Journey Into Writing contest administered by the Maine Community College System. One of last year’s three winners was Isla Hansen, also from Lewiston High and a student of Townsend’s.

“The students deserve 99 percent of the credit,” Townsend said. He said he would take 1 percent of the credit for suggesting they enter the contest.

“They’re tremendous students and tremendous writers. Mainly they’ve had the patience to revise and revise.” They also need strong discipline to write short, no more than 1,500 words. Many find it difficult to keep their writing that tight, he said.

The stories don’t rely on plot or content, Townsend said. The richness comes from the writing.

The stories

Lauren Rodrigue’s “Belonging” is about a shopper who goes into an upscale clothing store and becomes enchanted with the wonderful styles and colors. But he has bad credit and his application for a credit card is rejected at purchase time. “His hopes are dashed,” Townsend said.

Rodrigue, who wants to be a writer, is the daughter of Michael and Doris Rodrigue.

Lauren Landry’s story is called “That heap of dirty laundry someone had forgotten to wash.” She describes a girl being with a boy who takes her for granted. He lacks aspirations and prefers drinking to her. She walks out and goes home, determined that she’s better off without him, saying she “can hold her own hand.” The writing is “gutsy,” Townsend said.

Landry is the daughter of Ronald Landry and the late Marilyn Landry. Being named a semifinalist was an honor “I have always dreamed of,” the student said.

Cassandra Jensen’s “Nomenclature,” which means the act or system of naming, is about a kooky mother obsessed with people having the right names. The mother classifies her daughter’s friends by their names, even though the mother has never met them. “It’s very witty, clever writing,” Townsend said.

Jensen is the daughter of Hilmar Jensen and Phyllis Graber Jensen. Cassandra Jensen she said she was honored to be selected, “especially after reading some of the other great submissions from across the state.”

Three Maine authors – Linda Greenlaw (“The Lobster Chronicles”), Richard Russo (“Empire Falls”) and award-winning poet Wesley McNair, retired University of Maine at Farmington writing professor – will pick the finalists. Winners will be announced May 31.

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