Coed assembly recognizes Writing Festival winners


Jemima Scott

Paula Toner, RSCJ, announces the 2018 Writing Festival All-School Winners. Senior Francesca Petruzzelli won for Convent, and junior Eli Mundy won for Stuart Hall.

Claire Kosewic, Editor-in-Chief

WEB EXCLUSIVE The Convent & Stuart Hall High School community gathered in Syufy Theatre this morning to celebrate the winners of the annual Writing Festival, formerly known as the Kate Chopin Essay contest.

The Writing Contest, which takes place in early January, poses a prompt for students to respond to with a short personal essay — this year’s prompt, “when everything changed,” asked students to write a true or fictional account of a moment of crucial change in their lives or the lives of their characters.

“I was originally kind of confused by the prompt,” Katie Thomis, who received third place in the Senior class, said, “but I came to understand that it was asking us to write a moment of sudden change, which for me was a loss of a friendship.”

The time limit of the contest — one class period — forces writers to acknowledge each thought that comes to their minds as relevant and important, according to Thomis.

“I felt like I was really sharing my story, and that short time limit forced me to get the most important parts out,” Thomis said. “If you have a longer time period you can avoid thoughts in a way that you can’t in this contest.”

Faculty judged the essays in a two-step process, with English teachers reading each student’s essay, and chose the top 10 pieces from each class to give to non-English teachers for further selection and ranking of a top four.

A first, second, and third place was chosen for each grade. The first place essay from each grade was read by guest judge Paula Toner, RSCJ, who chose the all-school winner from among them.

“There’s a quality that cannot be put into words that makes you want to keep reading,” second round judge Heather Wells said, “and makes certain essays stand out.”

One of the chief aims of the contest is to encourage students to develop their voices as creative writers, according to English teacher Riki Garcia Rebel.

“We’re so academically focused in our English classes here, especially writing well in the expository sense, crafting an essay, supporting a thesis, documenting your sources,” Garcia Rebel said. “But with this contest, we’re making a statement that creative expression is necessary and encouraged here.”

The all-school winner is senior Francesca Petruzzelli, and the grade level winners are freshmen Audrey Pinard (1st), Sofia Houts (2nd), Marisa Donovan (3rd); sophomores Zoe Hinks (1st), Rachel Marie Santamaria (2nd), Miley Sherman (3rd); juniors Worth Taylor (1st), Izzy Gutierrez (2nd), Jessica Louie (3rd); seniors Claire Kosewic (1st), Marguerite Williamson (2nd), Katie Thomis (3rd).

Reporter Arianna Nassiri contributed to this story.