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Writing for Real: Two Students Win National Awards

Original image from Wikimedia Commons by Antonio Litterio

“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.

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Zoe Brown, Editor-in-Chief
When it comes down to it, managing schoolwork can be tough to handle. Think about being someone who can manage double the work. Zoe Brown ‘16 does just that. Brown performs a stunning job juggling her status as a good student, Editor-in-Chief of Inklings and her position as the co-president of TAG (Teen Awareness Group). But as Brown painfully put it, she never goes to bed before 12 and often her associations embezzle half her free time. Being impressive like Zoe comes with long hours of time and commitment. Not everything fell into place for Brown from the start. Brown was forced to move to Westport in eighth grade after her father found a new job in Greenwich. This was especially agonizing for her after growing up in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania for 14 years. The transition was tough going into the new school system. “It was terrible. I hated it. I was in this place where I was denying to myself that I would have to live here for the rest of my childhood and so I didn't branch out and make an effort to find a place,” she said. Luckily, Brown’s love for writing set her up for three great years on Inklings, where she made many of her friends she still has today. Also this past summer Brown visited Columbia and Boston University, helping her with everything from feature design to investigative reporting. After high school, Zoe hopes to study journalism and communications. But for now, she is set with the interesting people she meets on the job. Brown had a fun time interviewing an actor at an event held at Oscars Deli, saying how “he was very enthusiastic about the interview which made it fun.”

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