IRMO, S.C. — One sixth grader in Irmo had her book published after winning a contest.
Palmetto Pride, an organization dedicated to creating a litter-free South Carolina, held a contest where students across the state wrote and illustrated a book.
Cherish Taylor, a six grader at Irmo Middle School, was one of the students who entered the contest.
After three guest judges read through many books, they chose Cherish's as the winner. Since her story "Louie's Park" won the contest, it was published.
On Tuesday morning, Palmetto Pride, Cherish's family, and other faculty at the school came to her science class to surprise her.
"I just see my brother and my parents just walk in and I see Louie the Lion just behind them and a whole bunch of people," said Cherish.
Quickly she realized why her family and Palmetto Pride was in her classroom.
"I've been praying about it a lot that I would win and I was just really surprised," explained Cherish.
"I was really happy because I've always wanted a published book and I think it's a good start," said Cherish.
Jessica Burton, the education program manager for Palmetto Pride, says this was their third annual book contest.
"It was really whimsical and it was so great. It had a great message in it and tied in with our mission to help prevent litter across the state of South Carolina and about the impacts of litter," said Burton.
While Palmetto Pride has had this contest before, this contest winner's book was unique.
"She's actually the first contest winner to illustrate and write the book so we're really excited about that. Normally we do the in-house illustrations but we really loved her rendition of it so we kept it as is," explained Burton.
Dinah Taylor, Cherish's mother, says it was hard to keep the secret that their daughter won the contest.
"It's super exciting just to be able to experience this with her. I'm excited for her," said Dinah.
The family knew Cherish had a gift since she was younger because of her ability to write and draw.
Cherish's brother, Major, says this is only the beginning for her sister.
"I think this is a really big start for her. She's been working on another book for like two years now so I think this will be a big boost for her confidence," said Major.
Rodney Taylor, Cherish's father, thinks his daughter has a bright future ahead.
"It's kind of a confirmation of what we've been telling her for years. She's been able to see it in fruition. It does wonders for her confidence," said Rodney.
Lori Wenzinger, the Leadership and Service Learning teacher at Irmo Middle, is excited her student's book was published.
"Being a student leader, we want them to use their gifts and talents to make the world a better place, to make a difference in their community," said Wenzinger. "I'm just incredibly proud of Cherish, very honored to be her teacher."
The author hopes when kids read her book they'll learn not to litter anymore and how bad it is for the environment.
A copy of Cherish's book will be donated to every elementary school in the Palmetto State.