$10,000 in prize money shared by young writers
Morgan Walsh from Assumption College School, left, received her third place trophy from MPP Dave Levac at the inaugural Laurier Stedman Prize gala on Friday as author Emily Urquhart, one of the prize jury members, looked on. Laurier University/Photo
Brantford Collegiate Institute’s Abby Traina was the winner of the top award in the first Laurier Stedman Prize, a creative writing competition open only to area high school students.
Traina was one of six students to share in $10,000 of award money in the contest, which celebrated its inaugural winners on Friday at the Brantford Golf and Country Club.
“Abby loves creative writing,” said BCI teacher Stephanie Taylor, who is the head of the English department and received the award on behalf of Traina, who was vacationing with family.
“Each school could only put forward four stories and we had about a dozen to choose from. Both myself and another teacher ranked her story as No. 1 and, when they announced the winners Friday night, they said everyone on the jury submitted Abby’s story as No. 1 as well.
“That was amazing.”
Traina received the top prize of $3,000, while two second prize-winners got $2,000 and three third-place winners received $1,000 each.
Traina’s winning entry is called The Lechton Wanderer and will be available to read on Laurier’s website at wlu.ca/LaurierStedmanPrize.
Second place winners were Leica Kelly of Simcoe Composite School with a piece called Prospect Hill and Taylor Violet Ross of Waterford District High School with The Butterfly.
Third place was shared among Dakota Cipriano, also from BCI, with It Is What It Is; Zoe Oliveira of St. John’s College with This Side of Forever; and Morgan Walsh of Assumption College with Melancholy Medic.
Runners up included Taelor Doughty, Hagersville Secondary School, Darienne Martin, McKinnon Park Secondary School, Olivia McCulloch, Pauline Johnson Collegiate, and Sandra Cheung, North Park Collegiate.
The new competition is named for, and thanks to an endowment from, the late Mary Stedman, and may be the largest prize of its kind aimed at students in secondary schools.
Stedman, who died in 2014, was both a champion of the Laurier Brantford campus and an executive member of the Canadian Booksellers Association.
Entries for the contest came from almost every secondary school in the Grand Erie and Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District school boards, along with entries from Six Nations Polytechnic’s STEAM Academy, the W. Ross Macdonald School and Victoria Academy.
The 1,500-word entries were submitted anonymously and went through a series of sub-juries before the top 10 stories went to the prize jury to be ranked.
Award-winning authors Deborah Ellis and Emily Urquhart were on the jury, along with Kathryn Carter, Laurier’s associate vice-president, Heidi Northwood, dean of Liberal Arts, and Brant MPP Dave Levac.
Ellis’s international bestselling book, The Breadwinner, is currently nominated for an Academy Award.
Although Ellis wasn’t able to attend Friday’s celebration, she sent her greetings to the young writers who entered the competition, commending them for their courage in putting pen to paper and exposing their thoughts to the world.
“You all have that courage, and you all have a love for storytelling, something that has been with our human species from the very beginning.
“I hope you all keep writing. Canada will be richer for the literature you produce.”
Brian Rosborough, Laurier’s senior executive officer at the Brantford campus, said the new Laurier Stedman Prize will continue for many years.
“We’re so grateful to Mary Stedman for her foresight and generosity,” Rosborough said at the event. “Tonight was truly an historic occasion and it’s incredibly gratifying to play a role in recognizing the rich talent among this generation of up-and-coming authors.”