Photo Credit: South Bend Tribune/SANTIAGO FLORES

January’s Writing of the Month comes from Ava Tomasula y Garcia of South Bend, Indiana. Ava won a Gold Medal for Short Story in 2011. She can’t imagine not writing because she is fascinated and inspired by the ways that people communicate. Her winning piece, Terra Obscura, was featured in The Best Teen Writing of 2011, a student-edited anthology of┬áprize-winning pieces from The Scholastic Writing Awards that expresses the thoughts and aspirations of our nation’s youth. Ava recently appeared in South Bend Tribune‘s, where she talked about her work. Check out her short story after the jump!

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Jennifer Chung. Ornaments. Grade 12, Age 17. 2011 Gold Medal, Painting.

December’s Writing of the Month comes from Viviana Hanley of Attleboro, Massachusetts. Viviana is a 2011 Writing Portfolio Silver Medalist.

I awake easily, sliding out of sleep as simply as shrugging off a comfortable sweater. The date is December 25, 1999, and, being a small child of six, sleep never truly claimed me last night. Too much anticipation along with too many Christmas Eve cookies prevented any real rest. Despite the lack of sleep I bound out of bed, alert and excited even though the time is just past seven in the morning.

The air is sharp and flavorful, sprinkled with the fresh smell of pine. It mingles with the crisp winter air to create a familiar aroma. If Christmas has a smell it is surely that of pine and sugar cookies and warm ginger-scented candles. My bare feet touch down on the cool floor, sending shivers up my legs. I pause a moment, drinking in the silence that cloaks the house, giving it an unmistakable hint of the unknown, as though it contains a great secret.

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Stephanie Hayner. Exhausted. Grade 12, Age 17. 2011 Silver Medal, Photography Portfolio.

November’s Writing of the Month comes from Anne Malin Ringwalt, Age 15, from Wisconsin. Anne is a 2011 Gold Medalist for Poetry.

My southern accent used to be:

wild honey boiling on a stove
an old woman standing in a barrel of raspberries
stomping jam to juice
babies rolling around in the mud
their parents speaking in the distance with names
like Rilke and Eliot on their lips
a crown of lilacs.
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Megan Leal Causton, Grade 12, Age 17, Portfolio Gold Medal, Painting

October’s Halloween inspired Writing of the Month comes from Grace Li of Manvel, TX. Grace is a 2011 Gold Medalist for Science Fiction/Fantasy.

My sister was the first genetically engineered baby.

My parents designed almost every characteristic of her, from her stormy blue eyes to her pale blonde hair. She was a model student. How could she not be, when she was given every gene for intelligence, athleticism, and beauty?

I was the second.

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Mark Yoshizumi. Grade 12, Age 17. Art Portfolio Silver Medal.

“Tying the Past to the Future: the Turban” comes from ninth grader and Gold Medalist Sahej Suri, of the Bronx, NY.

I have always been proud to be a Sikh, though when I was very young, I did not exactly understand its implications; I only knew that being a Sikh was a good thing. In the innocence of youth, I had little conception of how the manifestations of my religion would set me apart from my peers. As a small boy, I began to realize I was different through a very apparent outward sign of Sikhism: my hair.
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"10,000,000," Daniel Tommasino. Grade 11, Age 17. Silver Medal, Photography.

“The Other Side” comes from Gold Medalist Alexandra Sukin, ninth grader from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Bustling streets
Car horns blaring with drivers ensnared in the morning rush
Packed elevators brimming with hope and nerves
We used to live four blocks away.
We could see it from our picture window.
See the cement grave he so rightly
Never expected.
We moved a month after the funeral
And have spent our days together
Trying to forget
What should not be forgotten.
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