LEWISTON — It doesn’t take a kid very long to get into the superstar mindset.

At the Geiger-Montello Night of The Stars Wednesday, 63 of them had their celebrity on. One by one, they poured from a limousine that pulled up in front of Lewiston Middle School.

The kids wore sunglasses, suits and gowns, just like any megastar walking the red carpet. They wove through throngs of teachers, parents and security officers who crowded the sidewalk.

They waved to their fans and stopped to sign autographs. When they felt like it, they paused just long enough to answer a question or two from the paparazzi.

How does it feel to be a star?

“Great,” said one fifth-grader, who held her hands up at the sides of her head and shook with excitement. “It feels great.”

Enough said. For the 24th year in a row, the students were being recognized in a big way for their writing talents. For a few hours, Central Avenue was like star-studded Hollywood. And while Ryan Seacrest was nowhere to be seen, they did have a national star of a different flavor come to wish them well.

Who needs Seacrest when you’ve got U.S. Sen. Susan Collins?

“I’ll bet that none of these students thought they’d be coming to school in something so big and so cool as a stretch limousine,” Collins told the audience of hundreds.

Organizers of the event didn’t get the limo treatment — they drove their own Camrys and minivans to the event, just like average mortals. There were no complaints, though. The night was about students, from kindergartners to sixth-graders, and their various writing talents.

“This is their moment,” said Peter Geiger.

For some of the students, it was all brand new. They were experiencing the buzz and dazzle of the Hollywood treatment for the first time. For others, it was getting to be old hat.

“It’s fun to see who’s in it for the second time. Or the third time or the fourth,” said Geiger, executive vice president of Geiger Brothers.

He could have kept counting. As it turned out, two students were enjoying Night of The Stars for the fifth year. One was in it for the fourth time while the majority of them — 41 students — were new to the event.

It’s a lot of pomp and flash, Night of The Stars, but when all is said and done, it’s about the writing. This year’s theme: Imagine Big: a concept presented to the young writers at the start of the school year. Since then, they have been banging out prose and hoping to be selected for the big night.

The students, said Montello Principal Deborah Goding, “have an opportunity to do great things with the rest of their lives. And this is only the first stop.”

Collins, who Geiger praised as a “tireless advocate for education,” gave a short but energetic speech to get the program under way. Having clawed her way to the U.S. Senate, she knows the value of the written word and the many challenges that go with it.

“It takes a lot of hard work,” she said. “And it takes courage, too.”

Once the cameras stopped flashing and the young authors were in their seats, the winning stories were read on stage by those who had come to celebrate the writers.

“Night of The Stars is always an exciting event,” Collins said. “But tonight, on the 24th anniversary, the stars are shining brighter than ever.”

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