Aurora -- Seventh-grader Colin Weil continues to challenge himself with an abundance of competitive extracurricular activities.

He has found much success in the competitive writing program called Power of the Pen and will attend the state competition May 22-23 at the College of Wooster.

"I like to challenge myself a lot with math and writing," Colin said. "When I first found out about the competitions, I wanted to try out for them, and I made the teams."

Colin is busy with extracurricular activities every day after class until 4 p.m., his mother Amy Weil said.

He competes in two math programs -- Math Counts and Math 24. He also tutors students in math at Leighton School and is involved in Boy Scouts.

He competes in First Lego League, a global robotics program, with a team of his friends. It recently was awarded the Ohio Ambassador Award, and was invited to compete at the International Open Championship in Toronto, Canada.

"We're very proud of him and know that he's doing his best," Mrs. Weil said. "These are all things he loves to do. It's not any work getting him to go to after-school practices because he enjoys it so much."

Colin attends POP practice every Friday after school with a small group of students and LaQuita Timberlake, the seventh-grade language arts teacher and seventh-grade POP coach.

"I cannot tell you how much I love Friday afternoons because this POP team is so enthusiastic, and they love writing," Timberlake said.

AFTER competing in the district and regional POP competitions, Colin qualified to move on to the state competition. He ranked 15 out of 81 seventh-grade writers at the regional at Kent State University.

His writing was voted best overall in two out of three rounds. The program allows writers 40 minutes to read the given prompt, think of a story idea and write.

"It's a lot of fun to win awards and stuff, but it's not really about that," Colin said. "It's more about the journey of knowing you were on the math or Power of the Pen team. You have to try out before going the competitions. Even if you don't get any big awards, it's still a big honor to compete."

Timberlake said POP judges want to see competitors make relatable connections in their stories and apply interesting twists.

"I think one of his strongest points is that he's just so honest in his writing, and he touches human emotions," she said. "He doesn't have any loose ends in his stories. It all goes together. It touches people, it truly does."

Colin said he enjoys writing about relatable subjects, and tries his best to submit well-written stories and add supporting details.

"Think of all the times we celebrate athletes," Timberlake said. "We go to football games, and we cheer for them, and it's such a big deal. But think about how few times writers get to compete.

"I thought it would be a really good way for writers to celebrate. We're good at this, we're competing against other people, and there's that competitive nature in me that likes that part of it, but the kids like it, too."


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