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CB West senior wins high school short-fiction contest


Officials at Bucks County Community College have announced that Nora Dowdell, a senior at Central Bucks High School West, has won first place in the second annual Bucks County High School Short-Fiction Contest.

Elizabeth Luciano, the literature professor who runs the contest, said the 18-year-old Doylestown resident was awarded the top prize of $200 for her story, “A Better Version of My Confession.”

The final judge lauded Dowdell’s tale as being “the story of a lovable sociopath” and “wickedly ironic to its core. The anti-hero’s engaging (and improved) confession is both insightful and funny, and it speaks to the author’s impressive abilities as a storyteller as well as to the baser instincts of the reader. I enjoyed the story too much — and that’s exactly the point.”

The $100 second-place prize went to 18-year-old Carolyn Priestley of Lower Makefield, a senior at Pennsbury High School who is dual-enrolled at Bucks, Luciano said. Priestly won second place for her story “Ask Me Anything.”

“Seen through Ada’s ‘bright blue eyes,’ the world in the near future (and perhaps of the reader’s present and past) looks sunny and full of possibility,” the final judge wrote of Priestly’s story. “However a chance encounter with a robot who used to be human culminates in Ada’s eyes widening with ‘intense curiosity’ as the young girl intuits, briefly, that growing up will require her to make a stark choice: live a life full of a regret or become inhuman.”

Kaylie Garcia, a 15 year-old-sophomore at Harry S. Truman High School and a resident of Levittown, placed third and won $50 for “Together,” Luciano said.

“‘Together’ is the poignant story of young man whose passage to adulthood requires him to make a dramatic choice,” the judge noted of Garcia’s entry. “He wants to keep his family together, but in doing so he must tear it apart — but in what way? Can ‘togetherness’ overcome the ultimate loss?”

The faculty of the college’s Language and Literature department made the final selections.

The public is invited to a reading and reception featuring the winners from 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 28, in the Orangery building on the campus at 275 Swamp Road, Newtown.Admission and parking are free.

The Bucks County High School Short-Fiction Contest is another way that Bucks County Community College contributes to the cultural heritage of the region. For information about the contest, contact professor Elizabeth Luciano at or 215-968-8167.