Thirty-two Jefferson students were recognized by the regional Scholastic Writing Awards at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in Washington, D.C., on March 10. In total, they won 47 awards.
Started in 1923, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards competition offers students aged 13 to 18 a chance to submit an unlimited number of their creative works for judging at the regional and national levels. Regional winners are awarded honorable mentions, silver keys, and gold keys, while national winners receive honorable mentions, silver medals, and gold medals. In addition, there are other special achievement awards, often involving not just a key or medal but a monetary compensation as well.
“This is my first time [entering], but I definitely consider myself a writer now that I’ve entered,” senior Julia Zhou said.
Zhou submitted nine poems, a short story, a personal essay, and a portfolio. Each of her 12 submissions earned at least an honorable mention at the regional level, and one of her poems won a gold medal nationally.
“It’s really nice to have all this assurance because when you’re writing, it’s so subjective,” Zhou said. “Like, sometimes I write something and I don’t feel really good about it, but then I look back and [think], ‘Oh, this is a pretty good piece of writing.’”
Participants can choose from ten different categories of writing, with an eleventh portfolio option available to graduating seniors. These categories range from creative nonfiction in critical essays and journalism pieces, to short story and novel writing, which supply an outlet for works of fiction. While each category has a word count restriction, but there are no content requirements past making sure each piece is in its appropriate category.
“I did historical fiction for the short story [category],” freshman Kyra Li said. “I guess I wrote about it because I had this point where I was into historical fiction and, like, I’d done Scholastic Awards before and my previous [short story] was also historical fiction.”
Unlike some participants who write several pieces, Li submitted a single piece of historical fiction. However, she was still successful, winning a silver key.
“I think last time I also got a silver key, so it’s nice because at TJ, I have less time to write,” Li said. “Honestly, I’m kind of surprised.”
The national results of the 2019 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards were announced on their website on March 13. In addition to her regional awards, Zhou won a national gold medal for one of her poetry submissions. She, along with sophomores Saigautam Bonam and Meera Gupta and junior Crystal Shi, will be honored at the Scholastic National Ceremony in June. Their works and all other national award-winning pieces will be available to view at https://www.artandwriting.org/ on or after April 15. Submissions for the 2020 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards will open on Sept. 12, 2019.
“I would recommend this to other TJ kids,” Zhou said. “I think especially for TJ kids, a lot of what we learn in school is centered around science and logic. Scholastic is an opportunity to explore the humanities side of things.”