Teacher and writer Ari Zeiger getting students pumped for a Weekend Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans.

Teacher and writer Ari Zeiger getting students pumped for a Weekend Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans.

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards’ national office in New York City is dedicated to growing and supporting our Affiliate Partners across the country. Our Affiliate Partners are doing great work in their communities, and we love hearing about their outreach efforts, their students, and their programs. This month, we shine the spotlight on the Scholastic Writing Awards of Southeast Louisiana, which manages the Southeast Louisiana Writing Region of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Here’s what the Scholastic Writing Awards of Southeast Louisiana had to say about Awards activity in their region:

National Student Poet Madeleine LeCesne with President Obama.

National Student Poet Madeleine LeCesne with President Obama. Madeleine became a National Student Poet through her particpation in the Scholastic Writing Awards of Southeast Louisiana regional program.

The Scholastic Writing Awards of Southeast Louisiana, in partnership with the Greater New Orleans Writing Project (GNOWP), has administered our regional awards program for ten years. We are very proud of our young writers’ accomplishments and recognition in that decade: a National Student Poet, a Best-in-Grade recipient, and numerous National Medalists. Above all, we are proud to encourage young writers to produce and submit their best work, fulfilling the Alliance’s mission of identifying, nurturing, and celebrating young talent, and of promoting artistic expression free of the constraints of censorship.

We’re also proud of what our alumni have gone on to do. Several are in or have completed M.F.A. programs in creative writing, and some are publishing, including M’Bilia Meekers, who published a poem in The New Yorker in September of 2016. One thing that’s been very inspiring for us to see is how our Award recipients’ accomplishments are recognized when they apply to colleges. Schools understand the prestige of the Awards and the extraordinary work that these young people have done, and in some cases, that has made a difference in whether a student was accepted and the level of financial aid they were offered.

Regional Scholastic Awards recipients at our 2017 Awards Ceremony at the University of New Orleans.

Regional Scholastic Awards recipients at our 2017 Awards Ceremony at the University of New Orleans.

However, our affiliate does face some challenges. First, we are a staff of three, one of whom is a graduate assistant, newly appointed each year, while the other two, co-directors Brad Richard and Ken Rayes (Ken is also the director of GNOWP), teach full-time, in addition to other commitments. This year’s G.A., Michelle Hoover, has done an extraordinary job with everything from outreach to data management, from organizing our Scholastic supply closet to scrutinizing submission forms. The fact that we are still stretched thin, however, leads to our other perennial challenges: outreach and fundraising. With this year’s greatly improved outreach, we received 426 submissions, about 40 more than we’ve averaged in the past. Although we were lucky to start out ten years ago with generous donations from a local philanthropic, the Clayton-Royer Family Fund, we need to do a serious campaign for scholarships and other awards. We give modest cash awards to senior portfolio Award recipients and American Voices nominees, and wish we could give them something much more substantial.

Lisa Jackson, Gabrielle Gomez, Morgan Ruoss, Beatrice Zhang, and Alexandra Gulden at our 2017 Awards Ceremony.

Lisa Jackson, Gabrielle Gomez, Morgan Ruoss, Beatrice Zhang, and Alexandra Gulden at our 2017 Awards Ceremony.

Our photos are mostly from weekend workshops we’ve run for several years. These take place on the campus of the University of New Orleans, where we have a great relationship with the faculty and students of their M.F.A. program in creative writing, who regularly volunteer as judges. We are, of course, very fortunate to be in a region with a rich literary heritage and a robust and diverse literary scene, and we’ve had some truly exceptional judges and keynote speakers over the years. We’re also lucky to be connected to so many dedicated, enthusiastic teachers who encourage their students to write the extraordinary work they submit.

Learn more about the Scholastic Writing Awards of Southeast Louisiana at our Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter, where Michelle Hoover has been sending out daily writing prompts!

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are proud to work with organizations like the Scholastic Writing Awards of Southeast Louisiana to help talented students receive recognition for their creative efforts. By partnering together, the Scholastic Writing Awards of Southeast Louisiana and the Scholastic Awards give our youth the support they need to become lasting members of their art and writing communities.

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