After explaining their passion for reading in a detailed essay, three students earned the Write On With Reading Award from the California Reading Association.

Barstow STEM Academy student Sarah Clifford, Crestline Elementary student Alli Dillard and Skyline Elementary student Sierra Gutierrez were each presented with a statewide award for their essays tited “Why I love To Read.”

All submissions were voluntary and not assigned, leaving the students to use most of their free time to work on their essays.

“We wait until after testing to submit the contest information out to the local schools in our area because we want the students to focus on testing,” President of Eastern Mojave Literacy Council Terry Rodgers said.

Each local school then gave the Eastern Mojave Literacy Council their gathered submissions. The girls essays were selected among five other options.

“They were different and unique, they were different from the others,” Rodgers said.

The council then submitted two winners in each of the four categories — K-second, third-fifth, sixth-eighth and ninth-12th — to the California Reading Association. The three local students then were selected as among the statewide winners.

Clifford received the award in the sixth-to-eighth-grade category, Dillard was honored in the third-to-fifth-grade category and Gutierrez earned the award in the kindergarten-to-second-grade category.

“The essays were submitted from all over the state. For Barstow to have three state winners is quite an accomplishment,” Rodgers said.

The students also were featured in a juried journal published by the California Reading Association, the “California Reader.”

Although Clifford was the only student who could make it, all three of the girls were invited to receive their awards and read their essays at the California Reading Association’s annual conference.

“It’s kind of a big deal; this was pretty exciting,” Rodgers said.

However, the Barstow Unified School District Board of Trustees recognized each of the students for winning the “Write On With Reading” award.