We're into the second reads -- files that were flagged in their first read, by region, as being at least an honorable mention, and perhaps a scholar. We were given a group of eight and told to choose two. It's not an easy task -- there are no files that are clearly unqualified, and all of them have something to recommend them. You have to be a more critical reader with this group, and I find myself going a lot more slowly.
The upside is that you're never turning any of these down -- just awarding them the $350 honorable mention prize instead of the $5,000 scholarship.
Jane and Mia have a very challenging logistical task in assigning second read piles to reading teams -- not only do they have to make sure that there are no conflicts of interest (from either reader's home institution or from their home state) but it also has to be states we haven't read before so that it is a true second read. There are lots of spreadsheets being created.
Because of those conflicts, Sue and I were just given a second second-read pile to decide on. Eight more files and we're done! I'm not sure we'll finish tonight -- we may be back at it early in the morning to make final decisions. That'll be 90+ files we'll have read. Jane says we win the prize.