Designing the future

Representative April Weaver, PHS Senior Ashley Leach and Senator Cam Ward share a congratulatory moment before Leach accepts one of only six Alabama High School Literary Arts Awards Scholarships presented statewide. (Contributed)

Representative April Weaver, PHS Senior Ashley Leach and Senator Cam Ward share a congratulatory moment before Leach accepts one of only six Alabama High School Literary Arts Awards Scholarships presented statewide. (Contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“I didn’t want to sponsor a contest. I knew how much work a contest would be. Anita Garner insisted we recognize Alabama’s student authors. She is the reason we have a contest,” said Jeanie Thompson, executive director of Alabama’s Writers’ Forum, at last week’s High School Literary Arts Awards Ceremony.

Garner, chair of the High School Literary Arts Awards, Thompson and her assistant, Nancy Hutcheson, along with several other Writer’s Forum members, fueled the awards ceremony with press releases, emails and phone calls to inform state legislators of their constituents’ success. Writers’ Forum and their student awards spotlight the significance of the arts to Alabamians.

At Pelham High School, we’re blessed to have an administration that supports the arts. PHS offers classes including Sculpture, Advanced Photography, AP Art, a full array of instrumental and choral music electives, theatre electives and writing electives including Creative Writing I, II and III, Literary Magazine and Competition Writing for seniors hoping to win scholarships and publication.

At magnet arts schools, students spend half of their school days in their arts. At PHS, students may choose to do the same. The High School Literary Arts Awards’ winners list reveals the power of strong arts electives. PHS student winners are listed with students from magnet arts schools, along with private schools boasting strong arts programs.

A recent email from PHS alumnae and 2007 literary magazine editor Amber Koski was inspiring. After earning her bachelor of arts in creative writing at the University of Tampa, Koski is completing her master’s degree in London. Award recognition gave Koski confidence. Koski reminded my students that hard work leads to success.

As design editor of our first-place-in-state 2012 magazine, PHS senior Everardo Villalvazo’s work was spotlighted when we won the state title for Exceptional Graphic Design in February. Villalvazo has the assurance he needs. He has been accepted to the University of Montevallo as a graphic design major. Now he awaits news on the scholarship he needs.

The Alabama Writers’ Forum’s High School Literary Arts Awards infuse high school students with the confidence to continue Alabama’s literary tradition of excellence.