Pinewood Students Rack Up Scholastic Awards


REGIONAL RECOGNITION Samantha Hsiung, Sophia Yao, Rachel Aronson, Emma Hwang, Kathleen Xie, and Sophia Cheng all won awards in this year’s Scholastic Arts and Writing Competition.

Esha Joshi, Features Writer

A succinct and poignant ode to the experience of grief. A heartbreakingly honest stream of consciousness seamlessly weaving together science and love. A colorful, evocative painting that provokes thought about the LGBTQIA+ experience. 

The Scholastic Art and Writing Competition is an opportunity for students across the country to share their work in 30 categories and receive recognition. 

This year, six Pinewood students received recognition for their work. 

Senior Samantha Hsiung won five awards: two Gold Keys and one Silver Key for poetry and an Honorable Mention in the Flash Fiction category. She received an Honorable Mention for her Writing Portfolio “Feels Like Burning.” Hsiung experimented with the motifs of fire and burning in her pieces, and many of them also touched on Chinese history.

Her Flash Fiction piece is her favorite out of all those she submitted. Hsiung’s fascination with Chinese history led her to write about “Tank Man,” a nickname for the Chinese man who stood in front of tanks after the 1989 Tiananmen Square Protests. The piece was very experimental; Hsiung used caesuras, a literary technique involving line breaks and white spaces in writing.

“I’m so grateful for all the English teachers at Pinewood who have motivated me to write and submit my work,” Hsiung said. 

 Junior Sophia Cheng won four awards this year: two Silver Keys and an Honorable Mention in the Journalism category, and another Silver Key in the Personal Essay category. She’s proudest of her essay, a personal piece about her identity as a Chinese American girl. 

“I worked with an old writing teacher on it for several months,” Cheng said. “It was pretty cool to watch my essay grow and evolve into something I was truly proud of.”

Eighth grader Rachel Aronson received an Honorable Mention for her short story “Number One-Ninety-Eight.” The piece follows Greta, an escaped chicken who dies in the wild because she didn’t develop the skills to survive while in captivity. 

Junior Emma Hwang also received an Honorable Mention from Scholastic for her personal essay about her scoliosis journey, something she hasn’t written about in the past. 

“I think it’s an accurate representation of this challenge of my life and does my experience justice,” Hwang said.

Junior Sophia Yao received the same award for a personal essay about her sister. 

“I feel pretty shocked about placing, since I had just submitted some things I’d written for AP Lang and literature,” Yao said. 

In the same category, sophomore Kathleen Xie received a Silver Key for her personal essay “Creativity is Not a Neat Little Checkbox.” Her inspiration for the piece, which is about the way life can hamper creativity by feeling like a list to check off, came from her looking through old pictures and videos of herself. 

“While reminiscing upon videos of the creative games and crafts I invented as a kid, I wondered if that creativity grew with me,” Xie said. “That’s what I explored in this piece.”

Hsiung’s two Gold Key submissions have the potential to win medals in a national round of judging.