Each year, the James Jones Literary Society sponsors a contest for seniors at eastern Illinois high schools in the area where Jones grew up and later co-founded the Handy Writers Colony. The essays are responses to 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.
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 High School winners are, from left to right: Molly Titus (third place); Kaiden Raisner (honorable mention); Jenna Clark (honorable mention); John David Thompson (second place); Brooklyn Bender (first place) and Marshall Public Library Director Alyson Thompson.
Palestine High School’s winner, at right, is Tracey Miller with teacher Susan Hyde
Robinson winners are, from left to right: Madison Utterback (first place), Emma Dorfmueller (second place), Kelliann Clapp (honorable mention), Lee Stephens (third place), and David Staller (honorable mention).
First place winners are awarded $75, second place receives $50, and third place receives $25. JJLS chairperson of The Valentine Essay Contest and finals judge is Diane Reed of Robinson. Special thanks to those who supported the program this year: Susan Hyde of Palestine High School, Sharon Monts of Robinson High School, Alyson Thompson, director of Marshall Public Library, who presented the awards to the Marshall winners, and James Jones Literary Society members Don Sackrider and Jerry Bayne.