Eight students have been recognized for their written work and artwork at the 2019 South Central Pennsylvania Scholastic Arts and Writing Competition.
The works by these students were submitted on Dec. 18 among over 2,500 other entries from 70 school districts.
Those who received an Honorable Mention for their work are: senior Camryn Brakmann for “A Sailor’s Affliction” in the Short Story category, senior Rachael Scott for “Slow Motion” in the Poetry category, senior Ally Waltemyer for “A Song for York’s Heroes” and “Working with the Community” in the Journalism category, and sophomore Sam Timlin for “Selfrog” in the Digital Art category.
Those who received a Silver Key for their work are: sophomore Reagan Gorham for Something Ugly in the Novel Writing category, sophomore Alexandra Marusko for “Mass Shootings and Me” in the Personal Essay/Memoir category, senior Elizabeth Stevenson for “A Woman of WWII” in the Short Story category, and junior Ian Achterberg for “Lamp” in the Photography category.
As well as a Silver Key, Gorham also received a Gold Key for “The Sea of Long-Legged Wolves” in the Short Story category and will advance to the national competition.
This is the third consecutive year that a student from Susquehannock has advanced to the national level of this contest.
Gorham has participated in this competition since seventh grade, but this was her first year earning a Gold Key for her work. She is proud of herself for earning this award.
“That’s pretty crazy for me, like knowing that my story is going to be compared to other people’s works from around the country, and there’s like, a lot of kids in this country,” said Gorham. “It was in short story, too, and that’s a huge category, which means for some reason, they liked what I wrote and that’s crazy for me. I’m really proud of myself.”
“The Sea of Long-Legged Wolves” was written by Gorham when she was in eighth grade, but she went back and edited it with the insight of other people; the piece itself, though, is hard for her to describe.
“I would describe it as surreal fiction. It doesn’t really fit into a specific genre,” said Gorham. “I wouldn’t describe it as fantasy because it doesn’t have really strong world-building elements that you find in most mainstream fantasy… It’s a weird story, but it’s got a lot of symbolism and imagery and a strong theme that I liked about it.”
Another award winner from Susquehannock is senior Elizabeth Stevenson.
This was Stevenson’s third year participating, and she received a higher award this year than she has previously.
Her piece, “A Woman of WWII,” was based on someone that she knows and her story.
“I help around a 99 year old blind man some days after school, and [his wife] told me that her husband was a prisoner of war in World War II, so I wrote it on their story, but from her point of view,” said Stevenson.
Because Stevenson’s piece was about a person that she knows and their experience, she was challenged by making sure everything in her piece was not offensive or inaccurate.
“It takes a long time just to do research and make sure that everything in it is factual and not made up… Since it was about somebody I knew, I didn’t want to offend her in any way, so it kind of felt like I was walking a line the entire piece,” said Stevenson.
Creative Writing Club advisor and English teacher Tim Groth started encouraging students to submit their works in this competition.
“We were just kind of looking for opportunities to get students exposed to the world of writing competitions and publication things, and the Scholastic competition was something that had been utilized by our gifted program for several years, so it just seemed like a natural fit for it to be a part of Creative Writing Workshop… Once we started the Creative Writing Club and we had that running for a few years, it just seemed logical to have members of the club submit works in the contest as well,” said Groth.
Groth hopes that by participating, students will gain the confidence to share their works with the world.
“I think one of the biggest issues with the Creative Writing Workshop and with just creative writing in general is… it’s a very personal style of writing,” said Groth. “It can be very daunting to take your creative works and put it out into the world for everyone to see; it’s one thing to have your friends or teacher or family member read something that you’ve written, but to give it to a complete stranger and have them evaluate it is challenging. I think the confidence that comes from entering this contest is probably one of the most important things that I hope students take away from it.”
The students who received awards are invited to a recognition ceremony on March 9 at the State Museum in Harrisburg.