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A Golden Moment for a Young Writer

Rye Neck student-IMG 3477Rye Neck senior Almila Arda has pulled a trifecta in the world of Scholastic Arts and Writing, which has been recognizing and celebrating the creative talents of the nation’s youth since 1923. She was awarded a Gold Key, the top prize, for a personal essay, as well as honorable mentions in both the poetry and short story categories.

 

By Janice Llanes Fabry

 

Rye Neck student-IMG 3477Rye Neck senior Almila Arda has pulled a trifecta in the world of Scholastic Arts and Writing, which has been recognizing and celebrating the creative talents of the nation’s youth since 1923. She was awarded a Gold Key, the top prize, for a personal essay, as well as honorable mentions in both the poetry and short story categories.

 

In her decades-long tenure as an educator, High School English Department Chair Melinda Merkel has never seen a student receive three of these acknowledgments in one year, not to mention that Arda received an honorable mention last year as well.

 

Merkel, who taught Arda when she was a junior, described her as “a hard worker and a great thinker. She was quiet in class and brilliant on the page.”

 

The student’s natural writing aptitude became evident when she was a freshman enrolled in the Independent Learner Program. Her memoir about the impact her Turkish culture has on women caught the eye of Enrichment Coordinator/Counseling and Guidance Co-Director Valerie Feit.

 

The senior, who visits her great-grandmother in her homeland every summer, recalled, “I started questioning how traditions affect women in Turkey and in all of the Middle East. I tried to understand my great- grandmother’s world, and I’m still working on finding the root cause of inequality.”

 

Her heritage spilled over into the essay she submitted to Scholastic through Writopia Lab of Westchester and Fairfield. Feit, who said that Arda’s essay was “nuanced, colorful, and intricate,” remarked, “When you get to the gold level, you’re talking about kids who are really writers and who are engaged deeply in the process. It has to come from inside.”

 

Indeed, in Arda’s short story about her aunt bargaining at a Turkish bazaar, she managed to weave comparisons between life in New York and Turkey. Her poem tackled the drama that arises when a child picks up where a parent leaves off.

 

Arda and her fellow honorees were celebrated at a regional awards ceremony March 6 at Manhattanville College.

 


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