Jillian Hedges didn’t have to be popular or brainy to be chosen as the winner of the library’s “Wicked” essay contest-her essay was chosen because of its uniqueness.

For the contest, students from grades six through 12 were asked to submit an essay based on a song from the musical “Wicked,” in which Glinda says that it’s more important to be popular than to have brains or knowledge. Hedges’ essay concluded that worrying about being popular or brainy were both self-centered attitudes and that it was better to put others’ needs before your own.

“Jillian’s was so different from the other entries,” Lindsey Kraft of Youth Services at the Forest Park Public Library said.

Kraft said she shared the essay with other librarians during the selection process and Hedges’ work really stood out.

Now that Hedges’ essay has been chosen as the winner from the Forest Park library, it will go to the next level of competition to be judged alongside other semi-finalists from within the Metropolitan Library System. There will be up to four grand prize winners. Because she is a semi-finalist, Hedges will receive a “Wicked” gift and a diploma from Shiz University (the university the characters attend in the musical). The grand prize winner will receive four tickets to see the Chicago production of “Wicked” and the chance to read the essay at Daley Plaza on Oct. 29.

“I haven’t really thought about whether I’d be nervous reading my essay aloud,” Hedges said.

Hedges, who is home-schooled, is a frequent visitor to the library.

“I’m there two to three times a week,” the sixth-grade student said. “I like to hang out and I like the activities.”

Kraft said she was very pleased with the response to the contest, and that all of the entries came from library regulars. Also submitting essays were Alicia Graf, Patty Graf, Kayla Holcomb, Courtny Thomas and Nicole Thomas.

Already a fan of the musical, Hedges said it was fun to write the essay. She likes to write and has been working on a couple of books about the adventures children have. Hedges said she hopes to be chosen to get a chance to “see the Wizard” in “Wicked.”