Musical writer wins $100 bond for self, computers for school

By Regina Villiers.  Originally published December 9, 1998 in The Suburban Life, added December 18, 2018.

Winning a national song-writing contest brought smiles to the faces of Lauren Paluta and David Stouffer, Sellman School principal. In addition to a $100 bond for herself, Lauren won $1,500 of computer equiptment for the school.


When Lauren Paluta was a student in my newspaper writing class in Sellman School’s 30 Day Program in the spring of 1997, she told me on the last day of school that she’d keep on writing that summer.  She’d be serious about writing the rest of her life, she promised me.

This past summer, she proved that she meant exactly that.  Lauren made me proud by winning a national contest with her writing and composing ability.

Lauren entered the Crest Toothpaste Sparkling Song Search for students across the nation, and she won.

She was a co-“first-place finalist” and received a $100 savings bond.

She also made her principal at Sellman School, David Stouffer, proud, because she won $1,500 in computer equipment for the school as well as a scientific tooth model.

The contest, sponsored by Procter &Gamble Co. celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Crest School Program, which encourages brushing teeth and good dental habits at 50,000 schools across the country, and in China and Greece.

The program provides toothbrushes, toothpaste, and red plaque disclosure tablets for school children.

Geena, the giraffe, has been the mascot of the Crest program since 1992.  Before that, a walking toothpaste tube and brush were used to teach good dental habits to an estimated 100 million children.

Lauren says her dad, Mark, read about the contest in a newspaper, pointed it out to her and suggested she try it.

“It was pretty hard,” she said, estimating she worked on it about a week, writing both the words and the music.  When she finished, her dad videotaped her singing and playing the song on piano.  Then they sent in the videotape.

Lauren has musical ability as well as writing talent.  She plays both piano and oboe.  Now a sixth-grader at Sellman, this is her second year to play oboe in the school band.

She also baby-sits, likes dogs, and owns 32 Beany Babies.

In addition to her parents, Lauren’s family consists of older brother Matt, who was in my first newspaper class, and a younger sister, Ashley, who is in the third grade.

Lauren isn’t sure if she has writing aspirations, despite winning the contest, because she also likes math very much.

She is involved in writing now, though, because of a friend.

“My friend writes mysteries,” Lauren said, “and I help her.  We have fun making them up.”

Lauren sent in her videotape to the contest last February.  Nothing happened for a while, and she temporarily forgot about it.

But on June 26 (she recalls the day vividly) she heard from the contest again:  “We all came home from vacation, and my mom got home from three weeks in Russia as a missionary for our church.”  Her mom was sorting through the large pile of mail that had accumulated and handed Lauren a letter.

Lauren opened up the letter and started screaming:  “Mom! I won! I won!”

She didn’t receive her prize right away.  There was correspondence and a good deal of back-and-forth checking, to be sure of the authenticity of her entry and her identity.

Although Lauren is proud of her winning entry, she also admits to a bit of disappointment.  “I really, really hoped I’d win the grand prize,” she said.  The trip to Disneyland was won by a student in Bellevue, Neb.

But who knows?  If she keeps on writing, more than a trip to Disneyland may be in her future.

Meanwhile, she has done her former teacher and her school proud.  Way to go, Lauren.