The Writer’s Guide to Striking Gold

The Writer’s Guide to Striking Gold

Carolyn Khoury, Staff Writer

Berkeley Carroll students ranging from 7th through 12th grade have been encouraged to participate in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. This is a national competition in which pieces of art and writing from students all over the country are sent into the Scholastic headquarters here in New York City. It is very competitive and only a select number of applicants receive awards. This year over 100,000 applicants submitted their work, but only the top 1% of them were deemed the creme de la creme of the country and awarded silver or gold medals. These select writers pour their talent and passion for writing into their work, creating heartfelt and well-written pieces that impress the esteemed panel of judges.The Berkeley Carroll community was honored to have two of our very own seniors part of this select group for their exceptional writing. Cal Goodin received a Silver Medal for his personal essay titled Sure, I Guess, his first ever submission to the competition. Similarly, Sabrina Quintanilla also won a Silver Medal for her personal essay, The Common Application, as well as a few Honorable Mentions for other pieces she submitted this year. She has previously won Silver Keys and Honorable Mentions for her work in ceramics and other writing pieces.

There is no doubt that both are in their comfort zones when faced with a blank page and a pencil, or if we are in the 21st century, a blank page in Google Docs or Microsoft Word.  In a Q&A with Sabrina and Cal over email, they both described writing as an outlet for self-expression. Sabrina wrote: “Writing helps me explore my thoughts and feelings so that I can learn about myself, and it helps me record moments that are important to my growth and identity.” Wow, that’s some deep stuff; no wonder she won an award! Writers always seem to put a piece of themselves into their writing, whether the focus of the piece is about them or not. They put their style, voice, and ideas into whatever they compose. It requires a lot of strength to be able to put yourself out there and submit something so personal to be judged and evaluated.

Part of what makes writing such a personal activity is that every writer has their own unique style. Cal describes his writing style as “casual, humorous, and weirdly confessional,” and later explained, “I just kind of vomit all my thoughts on the page, and spend the majority of the time going back to clean it up. Drafting is super important to me—I’m very much in the ‘you’ve gotta make a mess before you can clean it up’ school of thought.” In other words, to all the aspiring writers out there, the first draft is never a masterpiece. Don’t beat yourself up about it.

Even though the writing process requires a substantial amount of work with all the creative thinking, drafting, and time put into writing it, it is clearly no chore for Cal and Sabrina. They both really enjoy writing. The way in which they entered the world of creative writing might be the reason why. Sabrina said she began writing when she accidentally signed up for a creative writing class in seventh grade. She tells me, “The people in that class became my best friends and we had a really good time making up the weirdest stories.”  She must’ve been destined to become a writer. This goes to show that you need to expose yourself to different experiences. You may grow to love it, just like how Sabrina grew to love writing.

We are so fortunate to have writers like Sabrina, Cal, and other students in our community who value the art of writing and how important it is. Berkeley Carroll is able to encourage students to put themselves out there. And, who knows? Maybe you’ll be one of next year’s award winners for the Scholastic Writing Awards. You won’t know if you never try, so pick up a pencil (or your iPad) and start writing!