Students exhibit creative talents in the Scholastic Writing Awards

Sixty-five+Upper+and+Middle+School+students+received+recognition+in+the+2020+Scholastic+Awards.

Claire Moore '22

Sixty-five Upper and Middle School students received recognition in the 2020 Scholastic Awards.

Sixty-five Sacred Heart Greenwich Upper and Middle School students received recognition in the 2020 Scholastic Writing Awards.  The annual writing and art competition gives students the opportunity to submit creative and imaginative pieces.  Sophomores Mimi Lee and Angélique Wheeler, junior Rachel Keefe, and senior Mae Harkins acquired Gold Keys for their writing pieces.  All the works that received Gold Key recognition are under consideration for a National Scholastic Award.   

Upper School students received awards and honors for a range of creative writing pieces.  Courtesy of Ms. Rachel Zurheide

In addition to the Gold Key recipients, freshman Madeleine Abramson, juniors Lianna Amoruso, Ceci Duncan, Yvestlana Lafontant, Hadley Noonan, and Sofia Pye, and senior Sydney Kim accepted Honorable Mention awards for their submissions.  Juniors, Caroline Guza, Katie O’Shea, and Lianna earned Silver Keys in the Poetry and Dramatic Script categories.

Since 1923, a panel of literary professionals evaluates over 1,000 submissions from high school students in the Hudson-to-Housatonic region.  Students from the New York and Connecticut area can submit to 29 writing categories, ranging from poetry to critical essays, according to artandwriting.org.  Students also have the opportunity to submit artwork including film, photography, paintings, and jewelry.

Mimi crafted a Gold Key-winning short story.  Her piece, “Giants in the Sky,” focuses on a boy named Jack who wakes up believing he is the protagonist of “Jack and the Beanstalk” after sustaining a head injury.

“My inspirations for this piece were the fairytale itself, and the recent adaptation, Into the Woods.  I wanted to put a modern twist on the classic story by placing a storybook character into the present, and exploring the effects of amnesia,” Mimi said.  “This story is special because it blends two worlds together, combining mythical elements with real-world problems.”

Katie chose to submit a play into the Dramatic Script category.  Her script, “All of it to Ashes,” tells the story of a boy who has the ability to see light in a world filled with darkness.

“Even though it is fiction, this script serves as a metaphor for the real world,” Katie said.  “People who are trying to spread light or goodness are often pushed to the side for speaking up.  One of the reasons I chose to submit this piece was because it has a deeper universal meaning that is pertinent today.”

Students in seventh through twelfth grade are able to submit to the Scholastic Awards, according to artandwriting.org.  A total of 52 Sacred Heart Middle School Students received 76 awards.  Mr. Marc Maier, Middle School English Teacher, encourages his students to enter their writing pieces. 

“I encourage students to submit to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards because it fits in with our overall philosophy in the middle school English department.  We want students to think of themselves as authors producing writing for publication,” Mr. Maier said.  “The Scholastic Awards offer one of the best opportunities for students to have their writing judged solely on the merits of the work itself.   It’s valuable for student authors to get feedback from as wide a variety of sources as possible so they  understand how the skills they are learning in the classroom lead to success in the world outside it.”

Madeleine’s poem, “I Used to Be a Bird,” uses a bird to symbolize freedom from stress and anxiety.  Her teachers, Dr. William Mottolese, Upper School English Teacher and Chair of English Department, and Miss Michaela Gorman, Upper School Drama Teacher and Director of Drama Productions, gave Madeleine the courage to submit her poem to the Scholastic Awards.

“Since Dr. Mottolese is a fellow poet, I felt comfortable sharing my work with him, and he helped me revise and feel confident in my poem.  Miss Gorman also fosters an environment of creativity and acceptance in the Theater Department, which has made a lasting impact,” Madeleine said.  “Also I appreciate the many creative writing opportunities the Sacred Heart community as a whole provides.” 

Mae submitted two poems and a personal essay, entitled “Mae of_____” to the Scholastic Awards, all of which earned Gold Keys.  Her essay focuses on the impact of the novel Anne of Green Gables on her life.   

Madeleine Abramson ’23, Mae Harkins ’20, and Mimi Lee ’22 submitted award-winning pieces to the Scholastic Awards.  Claire Moore ’22

“I first read this book when I was nine years old, and since then I’ve been rereading it every summer.  Over the years, the book’s meaning has changed for me” Mae said.  “When I was younger, I focused mostly on the plot, or certain funny lines and anecdotes, but now I concentrate on deeper themes and the trajectory of Anne’s life and how it lines up with my own.  I wanted to write this piece as less of an essay and more as a creative expression of self that shines a light on who I am.”

Research shows that creative writing is important for adolescents because it sparks the imagination, clarifies thinking, and allows self-reflection, according to The Washington Post.  Dr. Cristina Baptista, Upper School English Teacher, strives to provide students with as many creative writing opportunities as possible. 

“The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards offer validation for dreamers and artists of all media.  Art engages the mind and emotions in a way that becomes a healthy, satisfying outlet,” Dr. Baptista said. “Moreover, it is essential for students to feel that their creations have meaning, even if a piece never finds life beyond the competition.  By submitting, a student has already planted a seed of daring.  This daring to be vulnerable is an invaluable skill that translates to so many other areas of life.  Boldness and courage are essential for accomplishment and every work of art is an act of courage and empowerment.”

Featured Image by Claire Moore ’22