On Thursday, August 23, 2012, the Executive Board of the Huntsville Literary Association (HLA) approved a measure to establish the Dorothy Diemer Hendry Award for Literary Achievement for the 2012-2013 School Year.  It will be the showcase award under HLA’s Young Writers’ Contest, promoting short stories submitted by high school students.

The contest will be open for short story submissions from January 15-February 28, 2013.

The Award will have 3 winners, first for $500, second for $250, third for $100 and then 15-25 Honorable Mentions, final number of honorable mentions TBD.  All winners, including honorable mentions, will be published in the summer of 2013 by The Ardent Writer Press in an anthology of the short stories.  A photo and short bio of each published student will be included with their winning entry.

In addition, art students will be encouraged to submit artwork that can be judged for use for the jacket cover for the anthology.  The winning art student will receive $200 and his or her artwork will be used on the front cover of the publication.  Pending final contest guidelines, the back cover may be used to showcase a thumbnail of 2-3 other honorable mention submissions.

The first year of the award will be a trial period to include all public and private schools in Madison County and Huntsville, Decatur schools and other public and private schools that participate in the ‘Poetry Out Loud’ contest in the North Alabama region. 

All proceeds from sale of the anthology will be given to HLA to be used as a basis for awards for the following school year.  Proceeds from publications for succeeding years will, like the initial award, be used to provide funding for the next year’s contest.

The Ardent Writer Press and HLA are enthusiastic in their support of this prestigious award which we hope will cultivate a better appreciation and quality of writing for Alabama high school students.  Dorothy Hendry, not only as head of the Huntsville High English Department, but also as a parent and one of the original members of HLA, was a stout supporter of all forms of the literary skills, not simply for arts sake, but more importantly for the fact that writing is the backbone of communication in all career fields.

Stay tuned as further details emerge during HLA’s discussion with schools, their professionals and students.  The Ardent Writer Press and HLA will promote the contest and award in local newspapers, television and radio.


Steve Gierhart
Dale “Steve” Gierhart is a retired business manager for the United States Army. Based in Huntsville, Alabama on Redstone Arsenal, his career lasted from 1975 to 2010 in which he managed contracts, finances/accounting, and cost estimating for several missile defense systems, among which were Stinger, Avenger, Chaparral, Sentinel, JLENS, SLAMRAAM, and Non-Line of Sight.  The author wishes to thank the many co-workers, peers, and contractors who made these programs successful.  It is their tireless work that brought these systems to the soldier that needed them.  While budget constraints made it difficult for some of their work to see its full potential, they never blinked, they adjusted.  They persevered. Steve hails from Shawnee, Oklahoma; but most of his adult life has been spent in the beautiful hills of North Alabama where he lives with his wife, Bonny, who raises Tennessee Walking Horses. Between them, Steve and Bonny have 5 children and 9 grandchildren. Steve enjoys writing now that he is retired and plans more excursions of the imagination. He and Bonny, a retired engineer who worked as a contractor on several NASA and Army programs, will travel in their retirement though 15 horses, 4 dogs and 3 cats can crimp the best of plans.