Creative Writing Club Announces Winners of Writing Under Quarantine Contest

Danielle Dentremont, Online Managing Editor

On May 11, the Walpole High Creative Writing Club announced its winners for the Writing Under Quarantine Contest. In first place was freshman Sahithi Gollakota with a submission titled “Far From Home,” seventh-grader Riley Woods claimed second place with “The Abyss” and junior James Kane won third place for “Dent.” 

“I feel that people really need some sort of outlet during this quarantine,” senior club president Lindsay Navick said. “With everyone socially distancing, I think that there are a lot of emotions that people are trying to process, and writing among other activities can certainly be therapeutic. It’s also an activity that anyone can partake in and is an individual activity that can be shared to connect with others, which is critical during this time.”

With previous experience in advising a creative writing club in Norwood, assistant principal Sean Powers introduced the idea to club members who were eager to adopt the idea. Advisor Peter Salmans and club members brainstormed prompts that explored the struggles of quarantine through a more lighthearted lens. For instance, one prompt challenged participants to rewrite a fairytale in which all of the characters are entrapped in a quarantine with no end in sight. However, in the spirit of creative writing, participants were not limited to the prompts presented to them. 

“I feel like I am able to really be myself [while writing],” Kane said. “It’s not a good idea to follow conventions and use standard tones and language, develop your own style so you feel more like a writer and less like someone being told to write. The great thing about writing is that it is very freeing.”

Salmans and club board members served as the judges of the contest, which meant reading—rather than writing—original student work for a change. The judging panel plans to return for a second round in the near future in which different prompts will be offered. 

“Each judge read through the pieces and was asked to rank the top three. Most judges cited formatting, clarity, style and overall engagement of the piece in their decision,” Navick said.

Gollakota’s winning entry consisted of journal entries set during the Salem Witch Trials. The engaging details of this piece as well as the clever integration of the title into the story impressed judges. At a climactic part of the story, Gollakota wrote, “It felt like liquid fire heating me up from inside. I gasped as the dark behind my eyes turned a blinding light, and then all the shouts disappeared.”

“The characters and story were well-expressed in a clear and concise manner and the diary format made the story more engaging,” junior, club editor and contest judge Lisa Jair said. “I was personally wowed by all the small details and think that she did a great job depicting the scene that her characters were placed in. It was overall very well written, and I enjoyed reading it a lot.”

A second round of the contest is approaching as the club is currently generating a new collection of prompts. With the first round of the Writing Under Quarantine Contest finishing as a success, the Creative Writing Club hopes to see even more students express their imaginations through original writing pieces in the second round.

“Writing during times like these can be an emotional outlet for many and can provide a way for people to express their feelings,” Jair said. “I think that it is important to encourage reading and writing, as they can help exercise our brains, be a great source of entertainment and help emotionally in difficult times like these.”