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PTA Literature Reflections Winners

PTA+Literature+Winners+%28left%2C+top+to+bottom%29%3A+1st+place+Yumei+Lin%2C+2nd+place+James+Zhang%2C+3rd+place+Tiffany+Luo%2C+Creative+Writing+teacher+Ms.+Zaidi
PTA Literature Winners (left, top to bottom): 1st place Yumei Lin, 2nd place James Zhang, 3rd place Tiffany Luo, Creative Writing teacher Ms. Zaidi

PTA Literature Winners (left, top to bottom): 1st place Yumei Lin, 2nd place James Zhang, 3rd place Tiffany Luo, Creative Writing teacher Ms. Zaidi

Ellie Lee, Shumin Chen, Caitlin Wang

Ellie Lee, Shumin Chen, Caitlin Wang

PTA Literature Winners (left, top to bottom): 1st place Yumei Lin, 2nd place James Zhang, 3rd place Tiffany Luo, Creative Writing teacher Ms. Zaidi

Jeremy Du, Staff Writer

“Within Reach” can be understood differently by many people. It was the common theme of this year’s Reflections Contest, an annual contest hosted across the country by the National PTA. The Reflections Arts Recognition Program, “a national arts recognition and achievement program for students,” has had “over 10 million” participants, according to the AHS PTA website, recently held its 2017-2018 National PTA Reflections Student Arts Awards. In this program, students can submit “original works of art in the categories of dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography, and visual arts,” according to the National PTA website. To participate in this national awards program, students enter through their school’s PTA, and if they place well, may be able to advance all the way up to the national level.

Recently, 14 AHS Reflections Winners were announced in various categories, and interestingly, all three winners in the Literature category, 1st place winner senior Yumei Lin with her poem titled “Within Reach”, 2nd place winner senior James Zhang with his text titled “Carpe Nodi”, and 3rd place winner senior Tiffany Luo with her poem “Lord”,  hailed from Ms. Nicole Zaidi’s online Creative Writing class!

Ms. Zaidi described that she felt “like a proud mama” when she found out that the three Literature winners were all her students. She loves how the Reflections program “fosters the arts” because to her, sometimes people focus so much on academic and athletic awards that “the arts get [left] behind.” She also added that she “loves that the Reflections program puts that niche that sometimes schools forget back on the forefront.” Her online Creative Writing class is, as its name says, mostly online. Students come into class once a week on Mondays, where Ms. Zaidi will lecture and teach them a new lesson. On all other days of the week, students do not have to enter class but instead will refer to the online Agenda on Google Classroom and complete online assignments such as short stories, replying to their peers on discussion boards, and more. Since the class is only held during Period 1, students in this class do not physically attend their first period class, making the class extremely appealing for students, especially seniors, who can use their later start to the school day to sleep in, catch up on homework, or complete their Creative Writing work in whatever environment they want. The Reflections assignment was the first assignment everybody in the class was required to do and was important as it got students involved in publishing and entering contests, and dealing with copyright laws and originality statements.

First place winner Yumei wrote a poem titled “Within Reach”, which was a “conversation between two people written in a prose style talking about how they were in a relationship…they’re thinking about each other simultaneously and they’re having a conversation…about how they’ve kind of lost connection but they’re kind of close.” When asked about how she came up with her winning idea, she described that “I read a lot of fanfiction so I was inspired by a James Bond fan fiction I was reading” and was “pretty surprised honestly” when she won because she said that she “just kind of wrote something that just kind of popped into my head.”

Second place winner James, when asked about how he came up with his idea, said that it was “probably out of frustration…my writing has something to do with myself…I was also inspired by Carpe Diem poetry, which I read in sophomore year.” He feels that the meaning of his piece “depends on the person that’s reading it, it’s up to their interpretation, but for me, it’s like around the idea of like don’t hesitate, life has limited chances and limited opportunities.”

Third place winner Tiffany explained that she was “thinking of words that would rhyme…once I found words that fit a theme I just sort of tied it all into the poem I wrote…and it’s sort of short but I feel like it was nice.” When asked about her feelings towards the poem she wrote, titled “Lord”, she said that she felt “proud of this.” According to her, it’s about “eerie moments in life and how you’re always thinking about regrets and stuff but in the end everything bad has to go up and there is sort of a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Ms. Zaidi, the teacher of the three winners, said that from her experience, “kids are really surprised when they win” and that “they think they aren’t good enough.” She wants to encourage kids to be proud of their work and not think it’s awful because “we all grow as young writers,” according to her. Congratulations to all three AHS PTA Reflections Literature Winners!

Photos by ELLIE LEE, SHUMIN CHEN, CAITLIN WANG

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PTA Literature Reflections Winners