April 5, 2013
Homer senior pens prestige
Her short story wins silver medal in national writing competition
HOMER — High school senior Braeden Sharer can now add “award-winning author” to her college applications.
Sharer received a silver medal for her story, “A Changing Neighborhood,” through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, a national competition.
At the competition’s state level, the senior received a Gold Key, the highest regional award, conferred on about 7 percent to 10 percent of all regional submissions.
Of 230,000 works of art and writing submitted this year, only 1 percent received national awards, Jae Harris, Sharer’s Advance Placement English teacher, wrote in an email.
Writers that have been honored with Scholastic Awards since they were founded 90 years ago include Truman Capote, Sylvia Plath and Joyce Carol Oates.
“It is a huge honor,” Harris said.
Sharer found out she received the national award March 15, she said.
Sharer wrote her story for the competition as a class assignment for Harris, and the five-page tale went through four or five drafts before it was submitted in December.
The story centers around an elderly man, a static character who remains the same while his tight-knit neighborhood disintegrates into a gang wasteland around him, Sharer said.
“It’s kind of depressing, I guess, because in the end the point is there’s no hope for the neighborhood,” she said.
Sharer got the idea for the story after an October visit to her grandmother’s neighborhood in eastern Pennsylvania, witnessing a lot of older people sitting outside their homes and watching what was going on outdoors. She wrote the story’s first draft during the car ride home.
Sharer was surprised that her story received the awards.
“But I knew it was a good story the minute I read it,” Harris said.
“Her writing has really taken off,” Harris said of Sharer, adding that she works hard at everything she does, but rarely takes credit for it.
“I like to write and have fun developing stories and writing essays,” Sharer said.
But while Sharer once thought that “it would be so cool” to pursue writing as a career, she no longer is considering it because of worries about a lack of job opportunities.
Sharer plans to attend college as an undecided major and is considering attending SUNY Geneseo or Binghamton University.
National award winners’ works will be honored at a ceremony at Carnegie Hall on May 31, but Sharer will attend the senior trip to Hershey Park instead because she was unable to reserve tickets in time.
“Last year Meryl Streep was there,” Sharer said.
Fourteen out of the 15 students in Harris’ advance placement class were recognized at the competition’s state level this year, Harris said.
“That has never happened before,” she said. Last year three students were recognized and in the 2010-11 school year four were honored.
In the five years the school has participated in the Scholastic competition, two students have been recognized nationally: Sharer and Matt Swenson, a 2011 Homer graduate.
In 1923, the awards were created by Maurice R. Robinson, founder of the children’s books publisher Scholastic, according to the award’s website. In 1994, the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers was founded to present the awards.
To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe