During the Senior School morning announcements on February 10, English Department Chair Ms. Anna Barry shared the exciting news that senior Sophia Fruehauf and sophomores Aysu Türkay and Anthony Wiles, who submitted their original work to multiple writing award categories, received distinction for their writing.
Sophia received an honorable mention in the humor category for her essay “Gambling at Jesus Camp,” and a Silver Key in the personal essay and memoir classification for “It Was Not Death.” Aysu Türkay received an honorable mention for her political cartoon, “Trump’s New Low,” and a Gold Key for her critical essay, “Make Room for Comics.” Anthony Wiles submitted seven pieces to three different categories – “If the Trees Could Talk,” a poem, won an honorable mention; his personal essay and memoir submission, “So, So, So Soulful Soul Food,” won a Silver Key; and his journalism entry, “The Invisible Mountaineers,” won a Gold Key. His four poems, “Chitlins’ and Hair Grease,” “For the Southern Sons Who Ventured North,” “Georgia Heat,” and “the Maid,” won Gold Keys.
The organization didn’t stop there – judges for the American Voices & Visions Medals awarded Anthony’s poems “Chitlins’ and Hair Grease” and “Georgia Heat” two out of the five regional nominations for writing. “Anthony is the first student in our school’s history to have two pieces selected for consideration of the American Visions & Voices Medals, a distinction given by a panel of experts for one student in each region of the country,” Ms. Barry said. She continued, “We congratulate Sophia, Aysu, and Anthony for their amazing accomplishments.”
Sophia’s Silver Key entry, “It Was Not Death,” inspired by the poetry of Emily Dickinson, is meant to be an interpretive piece giving each reader the chance to observe something different. “I chose pieces that were meaningful to me and were reflective of my better writing. Mrs. Russell, my advisor, also helped me to review my selections,” she said. “The lyric essay was slightly challenging as I had to tie together different fragments of stories and memories.”
Gold Key winner Aysu’s essay, “Make Room for Cartoons,” focuses on the legitimacy of comics as formal literature. “We must get rid of the stigma that they’re less than text-based works,” she said. The piece, originally written as a definition essay, had to be restructured for this competition. “The process of reworking this piece was pretty hard. I had to reform it into a critical essay in which I needed an argument and a counter argument to disprove. I had to find a lot of new evidence,” she explained. Aysu was surprised and happy to learn that she had won a Gold Key. She said, “Winning [this] really boosted my confidence in my writing, though I still have a long way to go.”
Anthony, who was honored for all seven pieces he submitted, focused on themes of race, class, history, and food. He pulled inspiration from the stories of his ancestors and people as a whole. His poem, “Chitlins’ and Hair Grease,” nominated for the American Voices Medal and that won a Gold Key, addresses issues around black hair and beauty standards, as well as African American food history. “Georgia Heat,” which also won a Gold Key and an American Voices nomination, is a reflection piece on a summer he spent in Georgia. Writing it gave him a way to comprehend and deal with many of the issues blacks faced in the south. He wasn’t planning to enter the competition, but did so based on the urging and support of his English teacher Mrs. Ann Russell and it paid off. He was elated when he first received the news. “It did not sink in until I was able to see the certificates and awards, and present my work at the regional awards ceremony,” he shared.
The regional Scholastic Writing Awards ceremony was held on Saturday, February 15, at the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium on the University of Pittsburgh’s campus. Each year, according to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the Alliance partners with more than 100 visual arts and literary arts organizations across the country to bring the Scholastic Awards to local communities. Teens in grades 7–12 apply in 29 categories of art and writing. In 2019, students submitted more than 340,000 works of art and writing to the Scholastic Awards.
As a regional Gold Key winner, Anthony’s and Aysu’s pieces have been submitted to the National Art and Writing Alliance for the national competition. National winners will be announced on March 13.
Congratulations, Sophia, Aysu, and Anthony, and thank you for sharing your work! Check out their award-winning pieces.