Students are on the write lines in national competitions

Wednesday 12 July 2017

Two sixth form students at The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL) are celebrating success in national creative and academic writing competitions.

In the Newnham Essay prize competition, Sanjana Gunasekaran Y12 won second prize in the history competition. Newnham College, Cambridge, runs the annual essay prize competition across a range of subject areas, to encourage ambitious female sixth form students to explore university level themes and develop their independent research and writing skills.

Given a choice of three topics for her 3,000 word essay, Sanjana selected “‘Inequality has been the dominant trend in modern history.’ Discuss.” She said: “It’s a broad topic and very different to any A-level question I would get. It was interesting to do and, needing a similar approach to the EPQ and A-level history coursework, has been really helpful for my sixth form work.”

Sanjana plans to apply to Oxbridge to study law, so she welcomed the chance to visit Cambridge for the prize winners ceremony at Newnham College, where the prizes were presented by the principal Dame Carol Black.

Meanwhile fellow Y12 student Ilana Pearce has impressed the judges in two separate writing competitions and in two different languages.

Ilana was the runner-up in the Wicked Young Writer Awards in the 15 to 17-year-old category. Run in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, this national awards scheme was set up by the hit musical Wicked to recognise excellence in writing and creativity in 5 to 25-year-olds.

Given a free choice of topic, in poetry or prose, Ilana was inspired to write a poem Why Don’t You Just Stop? on the theme of mental illness and combatting the associated stigma. She said: “My aim was to step into someone else’s shoes and try to make it real, not forced. It was difficult to word it well and get across the emotions without cliché.”

As a finalist Ilana was invited to the special awards ceremony at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, London. The event was attended by head judge Cressida Cowell and cast members from Wicked along with 120 finalists from across the country.

The accolade came just a few weeks after Ilana had achieved success in another writing competition – this time working in French. In the University of Oxford’s French Film Competition 2017, Ilana was commended in the Years 12 to 13 category for her script which reimagined the ending to the film Microbe et Gasoil.

Sanjana Gunasekaran is pictured with Newnham College principal Dame Carol Black.

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