Sarah Tarpoff Creative Writing Awards

The East Lansing Education Foundation is proud to be brining back the Sarah Tarpoff Creative Writing Awards after a multi-year absence. In partnership with Diana Tarpoff, the East Lansing School District, and the many volunteers, ELEF was trilled to see the great participation this year. With such a rich history and great opportunity for the students to showcase their creative writing, ELEF is committed to ensuring these Awards are here to stay!


The Sarah Tarpoff Creative Writing Award began in the spring of 1985 as a memorial to a young East Lansing girl named Sarah Beth Tarpoff.  She was a student at the now closed Bailey School when she died in a horse-back riding accident.  This accident occurred at the same time the school was closing.  As a result, the school’s Parent Teacher Organization decided to combine the remaining PTO assets with monies given to the Tarpoff family in Sarah’s memory to begin a writing award and a new education foundation that has become the East Lansing Educational Foundation!  

An accomplished rider, Sarah loved horses more than anything.  She also loved to write and draw, so this award program was created in her name to foster and encourage other children to express themselves through writing and drawing.

For over thirty years the Sarah Tarpoff Creative Writing Project has been open to all students in East Lansing Public Schools, from kindergarten to high school seniors, who submit an original poem, story or essay no longer than 1,000 words. Each manuscript is read and evaluated by high school students in Honors English, under the direction of their teacher, to evaluate and judge submissions. Everyone who enters receives a ribbon honoring their participation. In addition, all students, Kindergarten through grade 12, may also receive first, second, third, or honorable mention ribbons.

For many years the Creative Writing Award was organized and run by Sarah’s family, with the help of many others dedicated to encouraging the language arts.  It then transitioned into an East Lansing Educational Foundation sponsored program, retaining the core mission of encouraging creative writing within the East Lansing community and school district. First place entries are published, with parental permission, on the East Lansing Educational Foundation website and linked to the East Lansing Public Schools website.

The 2022-23 school year 1st Prize Award-winning entries will be showcased and published on the East Lansing Educational Foundation ( and the East Lansing Public Schools website ( starting July 1, 2023

The Sarah Tarpoff Writing Project kicked off this year in mid-February 2023.  This year’s deadline for submissions for the Sarah Tarpoff Writing project was in early May, 2023

If your student receives a 1st Place Award-winning entry for the 2022-23 school year and you want your student’s works published on the ELPS and ELEF websites, watch for additional information with your student’s work when you receive them back in May 2023.

2023 Entries by the Numbers

  • 347 total entries
  • 101 1st place entries
  • 87 2nd place entries
  • 53 3rd place entries
  • 46 Honorable Mention entries
  • 60 Participation entries

1st Place Winning Entries