NORTH CANTON — Creative writing program Power of the Pen has moved its district tournament to Allen County with the opening of a new site at The Ohio State University at Lima for 2023. The new site offers a convenient location for schools in Allen and surrounding counties to participate in the competitive writing program.

The Lima tournament will be held Jan. 21, 2023. Schools register for Power of the Pen in the fall to form creative writing clubs that meet regularly to practice for tournaments. Registration opened Sept. 1, 2022, for schools who wish to compete, with an early bird registration deadline of Oct. 15.

Power of the Pen holds creative writing tournaments throughout Ohio at the district, regional, and state levels. The nonprofit organization provides supporting materials for team meetings, enabling students to sharpen their writing skills as they prepare for tournaments.

As one of Ohio’s largest educational enhancement programs, Power of the Pen seeks to positively impact academic achievement of the state’s middle schoolers by helping young people find and develop a creative voice uniquely their own.

Power of the Pen practices improve students’ writing skills, confidence, and ability to collaborate with others, says Executive Director Barbara Tschantz. The competitions provide students with extra incentive to build their skills.

“Writing on a team helps students become better prepared for any future endeavor,” Tschantz said. “It doesn’t have to be a career that’s creative by nature. Though we concentrate on creative writing, students learn communications and leadership skills that can apply to any field.”

Bryan Albright, Assistant dean of Student and Community Engagement for Ohio State Lima, said the writing tournament encourages middle school students to explore ideas and look ahead to the future.

“We are excited to host the Power of the Pen district tournament because middle school students have important stories to tell,” he said. “In addition, writing skills are crucial to success in college and careers. For many of these young writers, the tournament may be their first experience on a college campus.”

Each year, qualifying writers from 18 district tournaments (usually the top 50%) advance to nine regional events. Approximately 20% of those students move on to the state tournament. Competitions consist of three extemporaneous rounds of creative writing tasks, each in response to an open-ended prompt. Judges evaluate the students’ work to identify the winners who will be recognized in an awards ceremony.

The district tournament at Ohio State Lima is part of the Northwest Region of Power of the Pen, which includes Allen, Auglaize, Defiance, Fulton, Hardin, Hancock, Henry, Lucas, Mercer, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Sandusky, Seneca, Shelby, Williams, Wood, Wyandot and Van Wert counties. Schools that cannot attend the tournament at Lima may choose to compete instead at Tiffin Middle School in Tiffin on February 4. These district tournaments are followed by a regional tournament at Lourdes University in Sylvania on March 11 for students who qualify. The state tournament for qualifiers will be held May 18-19 at Ashland University.

Power of the Pen is Ohio’s original interscholastic creative writing program for middle schools. seventh- and eighth-grade students in Ohio compete in a series of district, regional and state competitions by writing short creative stories using provided prompts. The 501(c)(3) organization was founded in 1986 by the late Lorraine B. Merrill and has since become one of the state’s largest educational enhancement programs. About 3,000 students participate in tournaments each year, while in-class supporting materials are provided to about 300 middle schools in Ohio. For more information, visit