Suamico fourth grader surprised with national writing award

Morgan Behrend is surprised by her family and classmates after winning the 'Listen to a Life' national writing contest, May 16, 2016(WLUK/John Doran).

A ten year old student at Suamico Elementary was in for a surprise this morning.

In March, Morgan Behrens entered a piece into a national writing contest, and just recently was selected as one of the ten winners.

When she came to school this morning, however, she was the last to know about it.

The contest required students to interview a grandparent, and write about it.

"I think it's difficult for most 8, 9, 10 year olds to interview a family member and also pull out a lesson from their life that we can learn from," said Nicole Smith, the school's gifted and talented specialist.

The contest wasn't just open to fourth graders though, the ten year old Behrend went up against people almost twice her age.

And when she showed up to school this morning, she had no idea she was a winner.

"I don't know how they kept a secret that long," Behrend said, "especially since everybody knew about it, except for me."

Morgan focused her story on her grandma.

"It was still nice to sit there and talk about things I knew they didn't know and it's kind of fun to give them the good stories of your childhood," Darlene Smith, Morgan's Grandmother said.

"You know how kids always get so many presents and all that for Christmas?" Behrend recalled from her interview with her grandma, "she only got a few nuts and other small things for Christmas and that's it."

Her teacher, Smith, helped her through the entire project.

"One of the things I remember a lot about her process while writing was that she had kind of latched on to 'that was all she needed to be' and then a word," she said.

And for a while, Behrend struggled to find that last word.

"She kept telling me that this last word is so important," she said, "Mrs. Smith and I can't pick the right one yet!"

But in March, just before the project was due, she found her award-winning ending.

"That was all she needed to be rich in heart," said Morgan.

And she came away with some valuable life lessons.

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