Blake High graduates win B’nai B’rith youth writing contest -- Gazette.Net


Jourdan Lewanda of Olney and Andrew Latona of Silver Spring, both recent graduates of James Hubert Blake High School in Silver Spring, collaborated to write and illustrate “Pepper the Porcupine and the Big Parade,” the winner of the Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge.

The contest challenges high school students to write and illustrate children’s books to help elementary school children celebrate tolerance and diversity. The winning book, chosen from about 100 entries, was announced June 6 at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery in Washington, D.C.

In the story, Pepper the porcupine wants to participate in his town’s parade band, but doesn’t have much talent for playing an instrument. After searching for his place to fit in, he finds his unique talent as the bandleader.

The book has been professionally published and will soon be distributed to local schools and libraries. It also will be published in an e-book format, available for free download. Lewanda and Latona plan to present autographed copies to Sherwood Elementary and Stonegate Elementary, their respective elementary schools.

To hear Lewanda read her book and to see Latona’s illustrations, search “Jourdan Lewanda” on, clicking on the book’s title.

The duo split a $5,000 college scholarship. Lewanda plans to study theater and English at Oberlin (Ohio) College, and Latona plans to attend State University of New York at Purchase, where he will study music.