Poetry Contest Winner Receives a Visit from Rush’s Nugget at School

Nugget from the Rush - Text reads Young Writers 3rd Grade Writing Contest

Rapid City, S.D. — Black Hawk Elementary School was visited by the Rapid City Rush's mascot, Nugget, on Monday, February 6. Nugget was there to congratulate the winners of a writing contest in which third-graders across the Black Hills were challenged to put their writing chops to the test by Black Hills Reads, an initiative of United Way of the Black Hills. 

Participants of the Young Writers Third Grade Writing Contest could write either a 300 word short story or a poem based around the idea of “Exploring Your Next Chapter” or “Mystery in the Black Hills.” Aubree Carlson, who wrote a poem entitled “Woods,” took first prize for poetry and won a $100 gift card, family tickets to a Rush game and a classroom visit from Nugget. Carlson’s classmates, Thomas Falcone and Audrey Vifquain, also took home prizes in the poetry category, winning second and third place respectively. The student who won first prize in the short story category, Natalia Vargas, also had a chance to meet Nugget last month when he visited her classroom at Meadowbrook Elementary. 

Nugget high fiving writing contest students
Rush mascot, Nugget, is pictured giving high fives to students at Black Hawk Elementary.

During his visit to Black Hawk, Nugget posed for pictures and greeted kids throughout the school. “I can't believe we get to meet the real Nugget!” one student remarked. One hundred and fourteen third-graders throughout the Black Hills participated in this year’s writing contest. The judges of the competition, including Nugget himself, were inspired and impressed by each of the entries submitted. 

The United Way has identified that proficiency in early readers is one of the most effective ways to impact the Black Hills community in a long term, measurable way. “The goal is to help children reach grade level reading by third grade. Research has shown that an early foundation in literacy is a pretty accurate indicator of life success,” said Hanna Glissendorf, the Director of Black Hills Reads. “When children are able to reach their appropriate reading level by third grade, they typically stay proficient in literacy throughout school. When a child has a love of reading, all kinds of benefits follow them throughout school and into adulthood.”

Black Hills Reads plans to continue to encourage reading and writing in young children throughout the Black Hills with more literacy programs and contests like the third grade writing competition. “If you don’t invest in early childhood education, you’re not going to have a knowledgeable workforce. If you want to have talented people in your organization or if you want to have your businesses flourish, you need people who have the opportunity to be educated,” Glissendorf said. “It really is an investment in the future workforce.”

For more information or to schedule interviews, please contact: 

Hanna Glissendorf, Black Hills Reads Director 


(605) 343-5872