Friday, May 15, 2009

Fayette County Student Honored for Excellence in Writing

A Fayette County middle school student is among a handful nationwide and one of just two in Georgia to receive a Certificate of Recognition from the 2009 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Promising Young Writers Program.

Rising Starr Middle eighth grader Sydney Seaman is among 163 eighth grade students nationwide to receive recognition out of 487 nominated this year. English teacher Suzanne Carey nominated Sydney based on her display of effective writing. Students were required to submit two pieces of work, one themed-based and the other a “best” writing or excerpt from a “best” piece.

This year’s theme was “Making Meaning of a Place.” Sydney chose to write about a special moment when she stood by her best friend who had been diagnosed with leukemia.

“She tells the story in such an incredible way that you feel her emotions as well as her friend’s,” says Carey.

Sydney’s essay graphically describes the day she saw her friend taken away from school by ambulance after being struck with a sudden, severe headache followed by a loss of vision. Later that evening she would learn about her friend’s disease.

“My perfect life has been shattered in one day. I was young and had not experienced something heartbreaking or life shattering at that point. By the end of the day, pieces of my life were scattered all over the floor and I needed to fix them. I needed to adapt,” Sydney wrote.

She talks about the adaptations that both she and her friend had to make during the course of fighting the leukemia. Instead of playing together, they told jokes and played “I Spy.” Sydney, who was only able to visit her friend in the hospital on Saturdays, spent her time trying to make her comfortable by reading and singing to her and getting juice when she was thirsty. She credits her friend for giving her a new sense of compassion and love for others.

“Emma was my best friend and my best teacher. She taught me to see the world in a new way. She taught me to adjust into the most unpleasant of situations. She developed my sense of love and compassion to an incredible extent. She is my pal, my comrade, my sidekick, and my buddy. She is my friend and she gave me the greatest gift. She gave me my most precious moment,” Sydney stated at the end of the essay.

The Promising Young Writers Program was established in 1985 to stimulate and recognize students’ writing talents and to emphasize the importance of writing skills among eighth grade students. Schools nominate students who have demonstrated evidence of effective writing. Papers are judged on content, purpose, audience, tone, word choice, organization, development and style.

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