A Scholastic success


Courtesy of Creative Commons

Nicole Poitras, A&E Editor

For many kids, writing assignments are just that: assignments. But the extraordinary talents of a group of sophomores turned their writing into so much more.


The works of Patrick Bloniasz, Katie Cerato, Gabrielle Frugard, Jocelyn Lysik, and Keely Scott have earned recognition from the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards through the National Writing Project.


Founded in 1923, the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards gives recognition to students across the country in grades 7-12 who display exceptional writing and artistic ability, accepting submissions in 29 different categories of art and writing. Works submitted are critiqued anonymously by a panel of judges renowned as professionals in their fields. The top scoring pieces are given either the Gold Key or the Silver Key Awards, and the artists are honored at a public ceremony in their respective states. Recipients also have their works displayed in the yearly publication Middle/High School Voices. Last year over 68,000 students were recognized in their regions, and 2,000 of those works received National Medals. Past recipients of the coveted Awards include Andy Warhol, Lena Dunham, and Ken Burns, among many others.


Patrick Bloniasz’s memoir, titled Nightingale, is about his first operation in seventh grade after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. His piece received a Gold Key award.


“The piece I wrote was for the class, but [HBHS English teacher Marie Salamone] asked me to submit it to the competition because she said I had a pretty good chance of scoring high, so I gave it a go,” Bloniasz said. “[My operation] stood out the most in my mind out of all of my recent memories. It’s something that I could really dig deep into and create a lot of meaning from what I experienced. I thought it was as good an experience as any to write about.”


Katie Cerato submitted a poem titled On the Anatomy of Feeling, about a personal struggle she experienced at the beginning of this year. She also received a Gold Key.


The recipients of the Silver Key awards are Gabrielle Frugard (Not Alone), Jocelyn Lysik (When the Lights Went Out), and Keely Scott (Looking for the White Rabbit), all of whom submitted memoirs.


“I wrote about a car accident that I was in six months ago,” Frugard said. “The accident happened around the time it was assigned, so it was something that I was thinking about a lot at that time, and I just needed to write something about it in order to understand what happened more.”


The Awards are not emphasized in many English classes at Hollis Brookline. However, thanks to the encouragement of Marie Salamone, her students got the opportunity.


“I brought this up to our English department in the beginning of the year, and I think that we are going to talk a lot more about it next year, and about the different publications that students can publish in. I think we’re going to do more as a department,” Salamone said on the lack of encouragement across the classes.


“I’ve spent the last five years working with the National Writing Project, and this year my goal was to at least get some students interested in submitting their work. I talked to all of my classes, but my first period [College Composition] class was the one that was really more interested in it than the others. It wasn’t something that I said they had to do; I didn’t give them any extra points for it. It was a suggestion to them from what I had read and what I had known about the program. I was hoping for some of the students from this school to get into the publication because I know that there are some very good writing skills here,” Salamone said.


The five winners will be honored at a state-wide ceremony at Plymouth State University on May 4, 2016.  Those pieces receiving the Gold Key will move on to judgement at the national level, and if they are chosen, Bloniasz and Cerato will be honored again later at a national ceremony. All of the award-winning pieces will be published in this year’s edition of Middle/High School Voices, a copy of which will be available for viewing in the HBHS Library once the state ceremony is held.


“It makes me so happy!” Salamone said. “I knew the skill level in that class was extraordinary, and they worked hard at bringing their pieces to publication, which also shows their commitment to writing. I’m very proud of what they’ve done.”


As for the other hopeful writers and artists in the school, both Salamone and the five winners want more people to know about the competition so that they can enter themselves and have the experience.


“It gives positive reinforcement to want to continue writing,” Cerato said of the competition. “It’s really cool to see how well you can do and how much better you are than you think.”