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Scholastic Art and Writing award winners Jodie Yan, Eliza McClelland, Emmaline Shepherd, and  Anne Kinghorn

Eliza McClelland loves writing bizarre little stories.

The Trees is no exception - the work is the Providence Day senior’s nod to strange and about trees, who can feel emotions taking over humanity.

Jodie Yan, Eliza McClelland, Emmaline Shepherd, and Anne Kinghorn

“Writing has become an escape mechanism for me, a place where I can go when [life] gets stressful or I'm upset,” she says. “I can just disappear into my words, and I love the feeling of words flowing from my fingertips as a story appears on the page in front of me. Creative writing brings me joy and excitement.”

This time around, Eliza’s writing also secured her an impressive award.

The Trees earned Eliza a Gold Key in the flash fiction category of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. It’s the nation’s longest-running, most prestigious recognition for creative teens.

She joins three other Providence Day students who earned Gold Keys: Senior Jodie Yan for flash fiction An Open Letter to HOAs; Junior Iris Cotoman for a personal essay and memoir “Iris”; and Junior Lisa Liu for the critical essay African American Vernacular English: Truth and Misconceptions.

Gold Key winners will move on to compete at the national level this summer.

“I'm so excited to have won the Gold Key,” says Eliza, who also won a Silver Key for her fast fiction piece Traffic Lights. “When I got the email that awards were out, I started screaming – my mom thought something bad had happened.

“I've been writing for years - since the fourth grade – and I love doing it, so to get that validation made me so proud.”

Providence Day English Teacher Patricia Whelan says having multiple students win Scholastic awards signals a renewed focus on writing.

“We hope the learning and opportunity Providence Day provides inspires students to put their talents in front of a larger audience and begin viewing themselves as writers,” Ms. Whelan says. “As for context, Stephen King won in 1965 for a short story, and Amanda Gorman won several Scholastic awards, including the Silver [Key] for novel writing in 2016. What more could an English department hope to be for our students than "inestimably encouraging?”

Ms. Whelan says Ethan Paulk, who graduated in 2021, ignited Providence Day’s Scholastic entries by winning the National Gold Medal in 2020 for his short story How to Make Authentic Southern Cornbread.

Jodie won the National Gold Medal in a critical essay last year with her War Literature exam essay Unkept Promises of Glory.

Award-winning work is based on originality, skill, and an emergence of personal voice or vision, according to the Scholastic website.

Jodie also won a Silver Key award with her personal essay and memoir Never Let Your Hands Settle. Junior Anne Kinghorn earned a Silver Key for her short story Dissipating Hope, and Junior Emmaline Shepherd received a Silver Key for her critical essay Who? Reflecting on Claudia Rankine’s ‘Citizen’.

Senior Sean Guo received an honorable mention for the critical essay Revivals and Revelations, along with Emmaline for the critical essay MEN' Struation. Elizabeth Pritchard also received an honorable mention for the short story One Man Symphony on Vermillion Street.

Pictured above (l-r): Jodie Yan (Gold and Silver Keys), Eliza McClelland (Gold and Silver Keys), Emmaline Shepherd (Silver Key), and Anne Kinghorn (Silver Key).