Writing for Real: Two Students Win National Awards


Original image from Wikimedia Commons by Antonio Litterio

Zoe Brown, Features Editor

“If you want to encourage students to be writers, they need to be writing for a real audience,” said Julie Heller, 6-12 Coordinator for English. “They need to be publishing their work.”

One way to do so is by entering writing contests. In April, two students, Katie Cion ’14 and Katie Zhou ’14, won the National Council of Teachers of English Achievement Awards in Writing.

The English department agreed on three juniors to enter into the national contest against 753 students from other schools. Out of all the participants nationwide, only 155 were declared winners.

To enter the competition, the students had to submit one piece of their best written work from the school year and then complete a prompt. The prompt asked students to choose four people whom they would put on their own personal Mount Rushmore to represent their ideals and why they would choose those people.

Choosing the three students who would represent Staples in the competition was difficult because this prompt was so unusual.

“It had to be someone who could take something that they didn’t want to write about, something they would never think to write about, and do something interesting with it,” English teacher Julia McNamee said.

Cion, although she would rather have written on a different topic, says English is her favorite subject.

“Sometimes, I don’t even know what I’m thinking until I put it in writing,” Cion said.

Zhou agreed that English is one of her favorite subjects and stressed that practicing writing has helped improve her skills.

“With more experience, as a writer, you come to discover what kind of styles and voices work for you,” Zhou said.

Excited by Cion and Zhou winning this contest, Heller believes that Staples provides students with the opportunity to develop as thoughtful writers. She believes it speaks volumes for the quality of English education that students receive here.

“I think it gives kids who are really sophisticated writers an opportunity to shine at a national level,” Heller said.