George School students received thirty-eight prizes for their writing in the 2022 Philadelphia Region Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards. Seven were Gold Key Awards, nine Silver Key Awards, and twenty-two Honorable Mentions. There were approximately 1,500 submissions in the Philadelphia area this year, and the Gold Key represents the top 5 percent of submissions, the Silver Key represents the top 10 percent, and Honorable Mentions are the top 15 percent.
The seven students who received a Gold Key Award are Anjali Amin ‘22, Sophia Bediako-Maier ‘22, Annika Crawford ’22, Silas Kennedy ’22, Nhi (Chloe) Nguyen ’22, Rhianna Searle ’23, and Catelin (Catie Jane) Ungaro ’22.
Department Head Melaina Young ‘93 says that today’s students have limited time and space for their creativity. “Our English Department faculty facilitates creative spaces through their classes and through sponsoring our student clubs, Curious George, our student newspaper club, and Argo, our literary magazine club,” she explained. “Good writers are not created overnight. It is a long process of writing, revisiting, and getting good feedback from caring peers and teachers along the way.”
Anjali Amin ‘22, who won one gold, two silvers, and one honorable mention, explained that studying at George School helped her develop her own distinct writing form, “At George School, I’ve learned to find my own style and voice, instead of trying to emulate what I was taught was ‘good writing,’ because there is no one right way to write,” she said. “My biggest challenge in terms of writing is finding the right idea. It’s a bit more difficult for me to write pieces I’m proud of when I’m not particularly inspired, and I often need to wait for the perfect idea to hit me. The most rewarding part of writing is being able to create a physical manifestation of my thoughts and feelings, and finding the perfect words to convey them.”
Liz Merkulova ‘22, who received three honorable mentions for her poetry and writing portfolio, said that her studies at George School allowed her to become more versatile in her writing. She uses writing as a tool, but as she puts it, poetic complexity is a double-edged sword, and she is still learning how to wield it, “Writing is a gateway to the human heart like all forms of art, but what is distinctive in writing is that it touches on every sense. A writer can create music without sound but instead lyrics, paintings without paint but instead imagery. Language, which is so inherent to us, can become one of the most powerful tools in the world.”
For Melaina, one of the most satisfying aspects of her job is watching the evolution of her students’ writing skills, “It is rewarding to watch students encourage each other, give constructive feedback to one another, and to see their investment in creative writing. Having students build up their confidence to share their writing publicly is a wonderful process to witness.”
The Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards are presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, a nonprofit organization. The Awards give students opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication, and scholarships. The Gold Key Award winners will be forwarded to a national pool, and if they are selected, will be invited to Radio City in New York City to receive their awards in June.