Students place in writing contest

By Connie Nolen / Community columnist

“So … Mrs. Nolen…is there an email from Scholastic Art and Writing Awards?”

“Funny you should ask,” I said, propelling my Creative Writing second and third year students into a stunned silence as I approached the computer to begin pulling up the winners. Normally, I telephone winners at home, send emails or—I’ve also shown up with winning news while students were working in the concession stand, attending play practice, or at their homes. In my experience, students have always been thrilled to discover they’ve won a writing contest or scholarship wherever they’ve received the news.

My second and third year writers were stunned to see me casually walking to the computer to project the Scholastic Art and Writing winners’ list because, while I am excited to share winning news, I’m also sensitive to students who may not win. Everyone cannot win or place in every contest. Second and third year writers, whether they’re in Advanced Creative Writing classes or whether they’ve moved on to Literary Magazine Staff are most likely to win contests—and they are the most invested in writing competitions.

Having participated in these writing contests before and watching upperclassmen win these contests creates winning ways in my first-year students. They see the work ethic of the upperclassmen and they understand the determination and drive needed to be the best. They also understand not only the college money they may win, but how winning a writing contest leads to more scholarships from college honoring those writing victories.

Winning or placing in writing contests reveals that students have the writing capacity to be successful. College students analyze, evaluate and share complex ideas—activities that require practiced, reflective writers able to create intrigue and hold readers’ attention.

This year, every competing writing student beyond first year has found success. All second and third year writers placed in Scholastic Art and Writing, and all of them have won or placed in other statewide and national contests. We have a strong team of hard-working, determined writers at PHS whose victories call for celebration—and make me very proud.