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Students take home state honors for music, drama, writing
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Gainesville High School student Shaw Carter was declared state champion in Dramatic Interpretation at the State AAA Literary Meet. - photo by Tom Reed

Among the football, basketball, cross country and wrestling events overseen by the Georgia High Schools Association, one event is decidedly less combative, but no less competitive: The State Literary Meet.

Each year near the end of March, region winners from around the state gather in Warner Robins to compete in categories like Extemporaneous Speaking or Dramatic Interpretation. This year's state title meet was March 21.

And while it might not mean a student will get tackled, there's no guarantee it won't cause a sweat.

This year, Lakeview Academy scored the second-highest amount of points among Class-A schools, tabulated from individual and group placings in five categories. Gainesville High School, which competed in Class-AAA, placed fourth overall as a team, placing in three categories.

There are 10 events in the Literary Meet, including vocal performances, speeches, acting and essay writing.

For Lakeview, senior Darby Thompson won the Essay-Girls category and for Gainesville, Shaw Carter won the Dramatic Interpretation-Boys category.

Pam Ware, drama teacher at Gainesville High School who helped Shaw work on his dramatic piece, said the state championship is "just like you would have a state champion wrestler or shotputter."

"He has a medal and a state champion T-shirt, visor, and he will go down in the Georgia High Schools Association book as a state champion."

Other Lakeview winners were: Taylor Harrison, second place, Dramatic Interpretation-Girls; Jessica Berzack, second place, Solo-Girls; Austin Atherton, second place, Solo-Boys; and Austin Atherton, Reid Atherton, Chris Lee and Brian Scully, second place, Quartet-Boys.

Other Gainesville winners were: Mark Casper, fourth place, Essay-Boys; and Shelly Farmer, third place, Solo-Girls. Farmer, Kanisha Howard and Whitney Owens also competed in the Trio-Girls competition.

Shaw said he performed a monologue from Neil Simon's "Brighton Beach Memoirs," memorizing the piece and portraying all the characters at different transitional periods.

"Last year I was a freshman and did it, and this year we picked a piece based upon a play we're doing next year that I'm in," he said.

The experience of competing at Warner Robins for the state title was extra special this year, he added.

"Really fun; great experience," he said. "I'll definitely do the competition next year and my senior year."

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