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Sophomore Sofia Eliasi Wins 2023 NCTE Achievement Award in Writing

xxx The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Achievement Awards in Writing is a school-based writing program established in 1957 that encourages students to write and recognizes some of the best student writers in the nation. Up until this year, only juniors have been permitted to participate.

Schools across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, Canada, and American schools abroad were eligible to nominate students for the program. A total of 360 students were nominated. From there, 114 were selected to receive a “First Class” designation, 131 received the “Superior” designation, 71 received the “Excellent” designation, and 31 received the “Merit” designation. Each student submitted two pieces of writing. Two to three independent judges scored each submission on expression of ideas, language use, and unique perspective and voice.

Among the students accepting awards this year is Hastings High School’s very own Sofia Eliasi, who, after a nomination from her English teacher Cindy Greenburgh, received a “Superior” rating from the judges.

“This is a great achievement, especially for a sophomore,” said Greenberg. “2023 is the first year that sophomores have been invited to enter the contest along with juniors. Sofia should be very proud!”

We recently sat down with Eliasi to learn more about her thesis, what inspires her to write, and what this recognition means to her.

Can you share more about your thesis and why you chose it?

The prompt for the writing contest was “Education First”, which I jumped towards with zeal. Education has been a critical aspect of my life. It has nurtured my love for learning and my creativity. So, there were many points regarding pedagogy that I wished to reference in my essay.

Generally, my paper Dreaming in Color was an abstract of my thoughts about learning. More specifically, it illustrated my personal learning journey as well as my reflections on the education system. 

What inspires you to write?

In my eyes, writing is simply painting with words. The artistic aspect of writing is what draws me to it. Language is universal and so widely utilized that some forget its beauty. I like to write when I can’t communicate a concept through speech; when an idea is so detailed and refined that it can only be articulated with careful deliberation and written word. Manifesting it on paper frees it from the tangled confines of my thoughts.

What does this recognition mean to you?

I was in disbelief when I received the news and still processing it. I am deeply grateful for the support I’ve received from Ms. Greenberg, my family, and my friends. Without them, I may not have achieved this award.

Knowing that my essay offered the judges a new perspective is almost more noteworthy than the recognition itself, and I think that should be every writer’s mission: to make readers think.

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is the nation’s most comprehensive literacy organization, supporting more than 25,000 teachers across the pre-K to college spectrum. Through the expertise of its members, NCTE has served at the forefront of every major improvement in the teaching and learning of English and language arts since 1911.