George School Students Receive Scholastic Awards

Students discuss their assignment with English teacher Melaina Young ’93. (Photo by Khalil Jannah ’18)

George School is delighted to announce that twenty-four students have received awards from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the nation’s longest running writing contest. Of the George School winners, five received the highest honor—the Gold Key and thirteen others received the second highest, the Silver Key.

“There are a lot of talented writers at George School,” said Melaina Young ’93, English faculty. “Only about 7 percent of regional submissions receive the Gold Key award, and five of those went to George School students this year.”

Each submission was reviewed by a panel of teachers, graduate students, writers, and literacy professionals from throughout the Philadelphia region. This year, the panel received nearly 1,050 submissions from schools throughout Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. The panel selected each winning piece based on three criteria: originality, technical skill, and emergence of personal vision or voice.

“At George School we are usually given a lot of freedom to express our own thoughts and ideas,” said Silver Key and Honorable Mention winner Kate Klaver ’18. “Writing helps me get my thoughts out, and we had a lot of encouragement to be ourselves and freedom to write what we wanted for the contest.”

While some of the students submitted work that they completed as class assignments, others chose to send original pieces created during their free time. “I actually won the Gold Key for a poem that I wrote on my own,” said Greg Levy ’18.

Several of the winning students credit their teacher, Melaina as the reason they participated. “Melaina was really pushing us to submit,” said Michelle Tyson ’18, “at first I brushed it aside, because I thought I wouldn’t win and it was just something extra to do. But, she kept saying we had a really good chance. I’m glad I eventually did because George School is a very competitive environment, so to have won something outside of here really boosted my ego.”

Greg added, “Melaina was very supportive of my submitting my own work, and even offered some feedback. I’m thankful that she pushed us to enter, because I never would have tried without her.”

Melaina said that she encouraged student participation so heavily, because she wanted the students to experience what it is like to be a writer, and not a student writing for a grade. “I wanted them to envision what it is like to write for a larger audience. The affirmation from the public, and the judges really inspires them. I also thought it would make reading and writing fun, and create a better sense of community where the students would be excited for their peers, and really celebrate each other,” she said.

“I’m really honored and humbled to have won,” said Kate, “I didn’t expect my Silver Key entry to win, but now I have a lot more confidence. I’m also glad that my classmates won and I think we all have a lot more confidence in ourselves as writers now.”

Gold Key winners will move on to the national contest where they will be reviewed by nationally and internationally renowned writers. National winners qualify for a $10,000 college scholarship and are invited to a celebration at Carnegie Hall where they will receive their awards and scholarship.

The five Gold Key winners are Lisa Corn ’17 for her short story titled Hector’s Chest, Caleigh Hoffmann ’18 for her critical essay How Women’s Portrayal in the Media Affects Their Everyday Lives, Greg Levy ’18 for a poetry submission titled Love and the Lack Thereof, Freddy Smith ’18 for a science fiction piece called The Final Breath, and Michelle Tyson ’18 for a poetry submission called Symptomatic Love, Prosciutto, Why Everyone Hates Child Prodigies.

For ninety-three years, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, presented by the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, have identified the early promise of some of our nation’s most accomplished visionaries and encouraged young artists and writers to pursue a variety of creative career paths and endeavors. Notable alumni for these awards include Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Sylvia Plath, Stephen King, Richard Linklater, Zac Posen, and Lena Dunham.

A complete list of winners can be viewed here.