Exceptional Students Honored At Perksy Awards
by Rachael Allen on Friday, June 7th, 2013
Last Monday, Cox Library pushed aside its desks, set up tables, and brought out silver platters filled with chocolate covered strawberries and cannolis for the 34th annual Persky Awards, a ceremony recognizing excellence in publications at Milton. Featuring Tess Wheelwright ’00 as a guest speaker, the awards brought together faculty, award recipients, and the former and rising heads of Milton’s publications.
Looking at pieces published in Magus Mabus, The Milton Measure, The Milton Paper, Helix and the Yearbook, the Persky awards are judged mostly by writers and artists outside of Milton Academy. Poet Jesse Graves judged for creative writing, editor of Commonwealth Magazine Bruce Mohl for journalism, novelist and science writer Gregory Mone for science writing, and Milton Academy teacher Mr. Chase for art.
Mr. Bland presented each of the recipients, honored for his or her exceptional writing talent, with a book prize specific to their category, ranging from David McCullough to Junot Diaz’s This is How You Lose Her and The Paris Review. For the creative writing category, Best Fiction went to Emmie Atwood (II) and Best Poem went to Rachael Allen (II). For the journalism category, Best Editorial went to The Milton Paper Editorial Board, Best Commentary went to Sahana Rao-Chakravorti (II), Best News Story went to Dianne Kim (III) and Emma City (I), Best News Feature went to Neil Chandra (II), Best Sports Story went to Mike McGee (I), Best Arts Story went to Olivia Atwood (I), and Best Science Essay went to Abigail Higgins (I). For the art category, Best Work of Art went to Kirby Feagan (I). Alex King (I) and Sophie Tsanotelis (I) received the Yearbook Awards for Outstanding Commitment and Dedication.
Like M Club, the Bisbee Tea, and a host of other ceremonies at Milton, the Persky awards are a great way to honor students at Milton for pursuing a topic that relies not on grades but on personal enjoyment and pride. Emmie Atwood’s winning piece “The Warrant” told the story of a boy visiting his uncle and of the defining experience of their trip into the woods. She was inspired after seeing a video about invasive black rats in biology, and felt “totally engrossed and totally disturbed by this image. I started just playing with the sounds of some of the scientific words used in the film, like ‘black’ and ‘rat’ and ‘uterus’ and ‘pup.’” From there, her own imagination and experiences took hold of the story.
Sahana Rao-Chakravorti felt a similar personal connection with her best commentary. “The State of Indian Women,” was “a response to the rape of a young girl that had occurred in India. I was inspired because I too am a young Indian girl, and I was so shocked by her story, and it hit quite close to home.”
Writer Tess Wheelwright addressed these young writers and artists, speaking to the humanity of treating one’s characters with sympathy, the balance of solitude and connection through writing, and the way a story helps sort out thoughts and feelings. Ms. Wheelwright’s senior project at Milton was simply to spend time in a cabin in the woods and write. Her life has come, in a way, full circle: Ms. Wheelwright is again pursuing a solitary writing experience, now out in Oregon for a six-month writing residency. Kind to her parents—her mother, Mrs. Wheelwright, is a 3rd grade teacher at Milton—and very open with the students, Ms. Wheelwright seemed like someone many Milton writers would aspire to be: experienced, honest, knowledgeable, and natural, advising students about the independence and experience of writing.Overall, the Persky awards were a great recognition of Milton writers and artists, offering them a glimpse at what an award night would perhaps look like in future writing careers. At times, Milton writers, particularly ones on a newspaper staff, too often feel their work receives just a moment of spotlight, but the Persky awards help those writers remember the importance of their work.
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