Doug Austin held his annual Idyllwild School essay and poster contest based on one of the literary works of Charles Dickens. This year Austin chose “A Christmas Carol.”  

Mike Van Zee, Idyllwild School’s 7th and 8th grade social studies teacher, had his 8th grade classes read and study the novel and watch the movie. He then assigned the students an essay written from the perspective of Scrooge (the main character) in letter form to Jacob Marley in Dickens’ style or write about what the book meant to them.

Students also had the option to create a movie poster that promotes the story’s message. 

Colby Sonnier’s first place poster.    Photo by Mike Van Zee

“I am really proud and impressed with the amount of effort that the students put into their essays and posters, and then even more impressed by the quality of their final products,” said Van Zee. 

Due to COVID-19 and the current Stay-at-Home order, in addition to the inability to congregate in public, the presentation ceremony to celebrate the winners could not occur.

Austin judges the works and awards the students with cash prizes. 

First place winners receive $100. Second place winners receive $50 and third place winners receive $25.

Charles Dickens essay and poster contest winners:


1st place: Colby Sonnier 

2nd place: Seth White and Yuvana Panchal

3rd place: Carter Johnson, Claudia DeLucien, Natalie Grove, Bailey Easley and Veronica Flores


1st place: Brayden Schlenz

2nd place: Mei Li Stroud and Carter Johnson 

3rd place: Jessa Smith, Kylie Camacho and Seth White