Each year, the James Jones Literary Society sponsors a contest for seniors at Marshall, Palestine and Robinson high schools in eastern Illinois. The essays are based on James Jones’s short story “The Valentine,” which was first published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1963 and was later included in The Ice-Cream Headache and Other Stories. The story features a young boy who presents a box of Valentine candy to a favorite girl in his class, and the humiliation and rejection he suffers as a result.
First place winners are awarded $75, second place receives $50, and third place receives $25. Honorable mention winners are also recognized. Winners are also presented with a certificate denoting their placement.
JJLS chairperson of The Valentine Essay Contest and finals judge is Diane Reed of Robinson.
The contest was established by the late Helen Howe, who organized the annual event for many years. A retired English teacher, Howe was a long-time friend of Jones and one of the founders of the JJLS.
Marshall’s winners are: 1st place, Garrett Frank; 2nd place, Phillip Gorrell; 3rd place, Fox Angus; and Honorable Mention, Kearston Peters and Rachel Morris.
Palestine’s winners are: 1st place, Mason Griffin; 2nd place, Chase Lawhorn; 3rd place, Jacob Eckert; Summer Crowe, Honorable Mention and Honorable Mention, Halley Steffey.
Robinson’s winners are: 1st Place, Abby Ferris; 2nd Place, Kyndal Jobe; 3rd Place, Ian Quick; Honorable Mention, Kourtney Reynolds and Honorable Mention, Taylor Wilson.
Cutline: Marshall High School
Pictured (L to R) from Marshall High School: Amy Gard, Marshall High School English teacher; Garrett Frank, First Place; Phillip Gorrell, Second Place; Fox Angus, Third Place; Kearston Peters, Honorable Mention; Rachel Morris, Honorable Mention and Alyson Thompson, Director of Marshall Public Library.
Cutline: Palestine High
Pictured are (L to R) from Palestine High School: Summer Crowe, Honorable Mention; Halley Steffey, Honorable Mention; Jacob Eckert, Third Place; Chase Lawhorn, Second Place; and Mason Griffin, First Place.
Cutline: Robinson High
Pictured are (L to R) from Robinson High School: Kourtney Reynolds, Honorable Mention; Taylor Wilson, Honorable Mention; Abby Ferris, First Place; Kyndal Jobe, Second Place, and Ian Quick, Third Place.