Seaway Scoop: Three writers advance to provincials

By Merab Ali

Three Seaway District High School students have advanced to the next level of a provincial writing contest run by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation. Dean Contois (Grade 10), Mackenzie Westervelt (Grade 11), and Lillian O’Connor (Grade 12) were among five students from the school who entered the annual writing contest.

The OSSTF Student Achievement Awards writing contest is open to all Grade 9-12 students in public secondary schools.This year’s theme was “This Hits Different – The Power of Language.” There are four categories for submissions within this theme. Students had to submit an original piece of poetry, prose, art, or digital media.

The students created pieces centred on their identity and the many connections they form through the world by language. Contois won the provincial contest last year. His entry this year, “Different Times,” connects his father’s Indigenous ancestry and how concepts such as home and sentiments such as travelling from one town to another for school carry distinctive meanings to them due to the different time periods and people that use to and currently surround them.

“Hidden Truth” by Westervelt is a reverse poem about what her true identity is versus how others perceive her.

“I am very excited to be moving on. It means a lot since I was struggling to get the hang of the reverse poem. Goes to show that hard work pays off!” exclaimed Westervelt.

O’Connor’s entry, “Ma langue et ma connexion,” is an essay about the different types of languages in her life such as spoken, written, sign and love and how they allow her to connect to people around her.

“I am so excited to be moving on. I was very surprised when I got the little paper telling me I moved on but was proud of myself,” O’Connor told The Scoop. “I love writing about everything. Whether it’s about what’s going on in my life or just a random thought that came to my head, so when I saw that I would be writing about such a broad topic, it allowed me to jump into that part of my personality.”

The three students now advance to the provincial level. Grade 11 student Jacquelyn Fitzpatrick-Tessier, who entered an original writing piece titled “Hi,” in the poetry and prose category; and Grade 12 student Josh Stewart, who entered an original piece of art, each received participation certificates and an Tim Horton’s gift card for their entries.

English teacher Pamela Linklater, who is the organizing teacher for the contest, said how proud she was of the students.

“Last year was the first year that Seaway had any entries go onto the provincial level,” she explained.

“The fact that this year we have three entries moving onto the provincial level is so astounding!”

Results from the provincial competition will be announced in the Spring. Eight winning entries from the provincial competition will each receive a $1,000 cash award and invitation to the OSSTF annual general meeting in Toronto to receive their award.

The Seaway Scoop is a weekly feature column published in partnership between The Leader and Seaway District High School during the school year. This year’s authors are Avery Adair, Merab Ali, and Addison Grant.

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