Scholastic Writing Contest – Writer Spotlight (Part 3)

Each year, Write from the Heart students enter a contest: The Scholastic Writing Contest. This isn’t your average contest, though; the stakes are high In fact, there are over 300,000 entries from across the U.S. every year. And, of those entries, only the top 10% receive some kind of recognition. Our students consistently place among these amazing writers, joining the ranks of previous Scholastic winners, like Joyce Carol Oates, Sylvia Plath, and Truman Capote.

This year was no exception! In fact, Write from the Heart had more winners in the 2017 contest than ever before! 18 of our students received a total of 21 awards among them.

Scholastic Art and Writing Contest Logo

Scholastic Gold Key Winners

Winning an equivalent to 1st place, Scholastic Gold Key recipients represent the top 1% of all contest entries.

Shelby Vandegrift (Literature II)

Category: Poetry

It’s a Dress –Not a YesIf it were not for the Asteroid | Public School | Alzheimer’s

Shelby showcases her unique wit and strong spirit through her poetry, earning her one of the coveted Scholastic Gold Keys. Her writing challenges people to consider so many “norms” in our world, as well as to consider why those norms are in place. Just take a look at her poem, “Public School,” in which Shelby provides a unique insight into the “mind” of a school building.

In the morning light, when they pour into me

They deposit their burdens into my walls

And do their bidding down my halls.


Under my fluorescent lamp, their eyes are dulled

Each class becomes an isle for the blind

In my society they will divide.


Inside my white-walls, destruction is encouraged

They wisely suggest that “Immoral interaction,”

Should at least be taken with “precaution!”


I watch them in the silence of their confusion

Until impatience taps its foot on the ground

The sound of nothing becomes profound.


I observe their suffering as I do the swinging door:

I cannot pity them for their helpless motion,

As a marble floor, I have no emotion.


Inside my white-walls, destruction is encouraged

They wisely suggest that “if you can’t pay attention,”

“you need to be on medication!”


As a harbor for sinking ships, I welcome their masts

It is my duty to square them off

Into sharp and jagged-edged blocks.


I watch their elementary direction, quickly go astray

As “adolescence” becomes the extension,

For mistakes seldom mentioned.


Inside my white-walls, destruction is encouraged

They wisely suggest that “self-destruction,”

Is a form of “self-expression!”


At the end of the day, when they pour out of me

They take up their massive burdens

And return home with tripled disturbance.

Emily O’Neill (Independent Study)

Category: Flash Fiction


Emily’s flash fiction gives readers goosebumps as they’re thrown into a moment of intensity and fear-driven action. In a moment, the story’s main characters must abandon the safety of their beds and into the chaos of a street. People, everywhere, are trying to flee. Shelby spectacularly weaves small bits of historical accuracy and language into her writing, which make it all the more real for the reader. Here is but a brief glimpse into that world.

A shrill scream split the cold night air, and Siobhan awoke with a start. She felt a small hand take hers and a warm little body snuggle closer.

“What was that?” her sister Kiera whispered.

Before Siobhan could answer, Máthair burst into the room, a candle in her trembling hand.

“Vikings!” she cried.

Siobhan felt an icy chill run up her spine. The feared Raiders that she had heard of from neighboring regions had finally come to their village.

By now, the sounds of yelling and roaring flames filled the streets. Daidí grabbed his sword, lit a torch, and hurried outside to join in the fight, but there was not much hope of his survival. The Vikings were ruthless killers; they would withhold their weapons from no one.

Just then, they heard a deafening crack, and the roof began to cave in above them, sending a shower of sparks all throughout the house.

“Run!” Máthair screamed, pushing the girls out into the madness of the streets.

Run they did, in no particular direction. There was nowhere they could go where they would be safe. As they darted along, ducking behind whatever could keep them out of sight, Siobhan spotted a stone wall with a small gulley beneath it. Grabbing Kiera’s hand, they hurried toward the hiding spot and ducked in.

“Where’s Máthair?” Kiera asked as they caught their breath. Their mother was nowhere to be seen.

She’s been caught, Siobhan realized. She would be killed or taken captive to be a slave of Viking warriors. They would never see her again. Siobhan looked at her little sister and opened her mouth, but couldn’t bear to speak the words that would break Kiera’s heart.

“Where is she, Siobhan?” As she gazed into her older sister’s anguished eyes, Kiera suddenly realized the truth. Máthair was as good as dead. “No!” she shrieked.

“Shush, Kiera!” Siobhan whispered, looking anxiously out of their shelter, but it was too late. A tall young Raider was passing nearby and had heard little Kiera’s cry. He turned and strode toward the stone wall, gripping the hilt of his sword.

Terrified, Siobhan shoved Kiera back further into the gulley, but there was no way to conceal themselves now. In moments, they saw the Viking’s face appear in the opening. His strong, broad hands gripped Siobhan’s wrist and drew her out. “No, please!” Siobhan pleaded. “Don’t hurt us! Please.”

“I must,” the Viking replied, beginning to draw out his weapon.