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School Board Member Julius Melendez Introduces a District-Wide Book Writing Contest

As a ninth grader, Noah Zielger was given an assignment to write a 25,000-word book. That's approximately 100 pages.

"I wrote a fiction novel called 'Patriot Cell,'" said Noah. "It was about a fictional character named Mark, and he had built a technology suit. Kind of like iron man, but not really and basically, he needed to stop the Iranians from invading Turkey, Iraq, and other countries in the Middle East."

Noah and his class had only one month to complete the assignment. He enjoyed the assignment so much; he wanted every student at NeoCity Academy to experience it. To make that happen, Noah was working with his guidance counselor to create a schoolwide book writing contest. He later shared the idea with School Board Member Julius Melendez. Julius has gone through the self-publishing process for his book titled 'Rivers of Sand.'

"I was a combat medic in the military," said Julius. "It wasn’t an autobiography, but I had that experience of going to basic training and medical school to save lives. It’s like a little bit of intrigue like Romeo and Juliet meets Black Hack Down."

Julius wanted to take Noah's idea to the next level. He's now working alongside the school district's library committee to create a districtwide contest, which he plans to name after Noah. During the initial planning, Julius has created six different categories for the contest: Elementary School Fiction, Elementary School Non-fiction, Middle School Fiction, Middle School Non-fiction, High School Fiction, and High School Non-fiction.

"Let's actually go out there and say who is the author in the entire district," said Julius. "If we invest in our children and give them the best resources that we can, then they are going to develop something great."

Julius plans to gather funding through local sponsorships so he can publish one hundred copies of the six winning books. The books will be proudly displayed in every one of our school libraries as well as in Osceola County's Public Library branches.

"I hope we get a lot of people for this challenge because I know there are a lot of people in Osceola County who can write an amazing story, and I can’t wait to read it," said Noah.

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