Junior Samantha Shieh wins California Association for Teachers of English contest

Harini Shyamsundar

Student wins first in state in CATE creative writing contest with a story response to the prompt, “Pass it on.”

[dropcap1]E[/dropcap1]very year, Mythology and Folklore teacher Matt Brashears encourages his students to participate in the creative writing contest hosted by California Association of Teachers of English, which is reputed for both advancing and showcasing student writing skills. The contest is conducted largely by English teachers from California schools. After a student submits his or her piece based on a predetermined prompt, the English teacher chooses up to three students’ pieces to be submitted to the students‘ regional level, or council. Last year, two students from MVHS won the award within their council. This year, junior Samantha Shieh’s piece won in her council.

“Actually, [Shieh] not only won the award within her council — she also had the honor of receiving the award for the state,” Brashears said. “But in terms of the actual writing, I had very little involvement in her piece. It was all her.”

Brashears is proud of Shieh’s achievement and has high hopes for her future literary endeavors.

“[The award] is a great stepping stone,” Brashears said. “It’s certainly a great thing to have on a resumé, and I’m sure colleges will look kindly upon it. My hope is that winning this award will encourage [Shieh] to pursue writing and maybe even get published one day.”

[title type=”h5″]Q&A with junior Samantha Shieh:[/title]

El Estoque: How would you say the journey was as a whole?

Samantha Shieh: Well, I found out about [the contest] a little late, so I only had three weeks to write. It was three really crazy weeks of writing and revisions — I think I had three or four drafts. First, I changed the story a bit, then I changed the point-of-view and then there was the final revision. I have several writing buddies that I know from online, and they’re mainly the ones who helped me revise and gave me feedback.

EE: What was your story about?

SS: The story I wrote was about a man who was saved from dying, only to find that he was slowly being erased from the timeline … you know, people forgetting who he was and so on. Eventually, he was saved by a woman, and it’s like a “post” in which one person saves another, who will then save another and on and on.That’s also how I answered the prompt of “pass it on.”

EE: What role did Mr. Brashears play in this process?

SS: He announced the competition to the class and told us to talk to him if we were interested. He basically sparked my interest.

EE: How did you find out that you had won?

SS: They actually sent me a letter in the mail. I saw the letter and at first I thought it was a college thing. But then I noticed that the address was handwritten, and so I opened it, and it was pretty amazing.