CCA’s Creative Writing Club announces Aleta Barthell as winner of Jonathan Maberry Inspiring Teens Award

Aleta Barthell

Canyon Crest Academy’s Creative Writing Club recently announced that this year’s Jonathan Maberry Inspiring Teens Award will be given to Aleta Barthell, long-time dramaturg and teacher for Playwrights Project, founder of Kids Act, and a regular speaker at the CCA Writers’ Conference. The 8th Annual CCA Writers’ Conference will be held from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23, at Canyon Crest Academy, (Proscenium and Media Center).

The club created the Jonathan Maberry Inspiring Teens Award in 2016 to honor Maberry for all he does to inspire writers. The award is given annually to a writing professional who is dedicated to inspiring San Diego teens to:

pursue their artistic endeavors with heart, enthusiasm and integrity;

give back to their community; and

 actively improve their art.

Jonathan Maberry will present Barthell with the award at the 8th Annual CCA Writers’ Conference on Saturday, Feb. 23. High school students from all over San Diego County and neighboring areas are welcome to this event, the only free writing conference for high school students in the U.S.

Besides presenting workshops at the CCA Conference, Barthell is a script evaluator, teaching artist, director, dramaturg and mentor with Playwrights Project, an organization whose mission is to advance literacy, creativity, and communication by empowering individuals to voice their stories through playwriting programs and theatre productions, in schools, senior centers, with disadvantaged youth and in prisons. She also created Kids Act, an organization that encourages students to manifest their talents and abilities through the joy of creative expression.

In partnership with Samantha Ginn and New Village Arts Theatre, Kids Act also co-produces a program that provides an opportunity for special needs teens and young adults to perform.

“I am honored to receive the Jonathan Mayberry Inspiring Teens Award,” says Barthell. “I count myself most fortunate to work with young writers, I am always amazed at how forthright and heartfelt their writing is—it is their writing that continually inspires me.”

Barthell was a finalist for the 2016 Humanitas/CTG Playwriting Prize for her play Window of Shame. Her play, Night Witches: Flight Into Fantasy, was part of the 2019 “Final Draft New Play Festival” at New Village Arts Theatre. She is currently developing a television series about the 12th century queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, for which she received a grant to study source material in Paris through the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The CCA Creative Writing Club works year-round to raise funds to keep the event free and is delighted that Hamilton Education will once again be a major sponsor and that Jersey Mike’s Subs will be the lunch sponsor for the over 230 students expected to attend.

Christopher Hamilton, founder of Hamilton Education and long-time sponsor of the conference says, “I’ve supported the CCA Writer’s Conference for years – from its earliest moments – because it encourages young, would-be-writers to view writing less as something ‘natural’ that simply flows out of us (with apologies to the Romantics) and more as something learned and practiced – a craft. Supporting it helps ensure it can remain free – free of cost, and free of any constraints on the original vision of a place to let aspiring writers benefit from conversations with experienced writers. There’s nothing like it anywhere else in the state, the country, or the world.”

Cathy Brown, area director for Jersey Mike’s Subs in San Diego County and franchise owner of seven locations says, “I am a 30-year resident of Carmel Valley and raised my three kids here. Since I am now doing business in this community, it is very important for me to support organizations within our schools. We are very happy to support these writers, as we know that they will touch many lives!”

Students should check out the conference website at for more information and to register.

The CCA Creative Writing Club is still looking for individual and corporate sponsors. Individuals can sponsor a student for as little as $25, or become a Gold Sponsor for more. Sponsors can email for more information on how to contribute.

Businesses can also purchase ad space in the conference program. Email for more information.

The Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore will sell speakers’ books at a 20 percent discount for student attendees.

The conference will take place in the Proscenium Theater and Media Center, Canyon Crest Academy, 5951 Village Center Loop Road, San Diego, CA 92130. Registration is required. The event is for high school students only, and is free. Address: Village Center Loop Road, San Diego, 92130. --News release