Students Succeed at Co-Curricular Competitions

Taking their talents beyond the classroom, CJ English students have been getting noticed this spring at two nationally renowned competitions; the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest and the Scholastic Writing Awards.

After winning the schoolwide competition in February, senior Lynsay Strahorn finished runner up in this year’s state Poetry Out Loud contest on Saturday, March 12. She performed three poems (How We Made a New Art by Eavan Boland, Epilogue by Robert Lowell, and The Meaning of the Shovel by Martin Espada) for the crowd at Ohio Dominican University while competing against students from 40 other Ohio high schools—the largest field in the contest’s history.

Strahorn has competed at state for three years, previously taking first and third. For her second place finish she was awarded $100, an original piece of art, poetry books, and won $200 worth of poetry books for CJ’s library.

“She exemplified the CJ spirit to the best of her ability, handled herself with total class before, during and especially after the competition, and made all of us incredibly proud of who she is and what she accomplished,” said Jim Brooks, CJ English teacher and Poetry Out Loud moderator.

After graduation, Stahorn will play soccer and study honors psychology at Cleveland State University where she will receive an athletic grant in addition to an academic scholarship to cover all tuition expenses.

Four CJ students received regional Gold Key Awards for their entries in the 2011 Scholastic Writing Awards presented by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers.

Two freshmen, one junior and one senior were recognized for their submissions in three categories: Miranda Fryman, ’14, and Rachel Rogers, ’14, for their personal essays What Happened to Forever and The Hidden Bond; Chris Menart, ’12, for his short story titled The Passion of Christ from the Gospel of Christopher Menart; and Elizabeth Cromartie for her poems Tower of Babel, Kairos and I Come From.

“This is the most prestigious writing competition in the country,” said Brooks, who also teaches three of the award-winning students in his Creative Writing and Honors English 9 courses. He has been encouraging CJ students to enter the competition for around the last 20 years.

“Anyone who places at any level has accomplished something great. Tens of thousands of students enter each year,” he added. More than 165,000 submissions were entered this year according to the program’s Web site. From those entries, only 50,000 students were recognized regionally and just 1,300 received national awards.

Earlier this year, fellow classmates Margaret Cleary, ’11, and Rachel Ruttle, ’11, were also honored for their submissions in the painting, drawing and photography categories of the competition’s counterpart, the Scholastic Art Awards. The pair earned a combined seven regional Honorable Mention and Silver Key Awards.

Senior Elizabeth Cromartie has been selected to receive a national Silver Medal for her work submitted in the Scholastic Writing Awards. She is among only a handful of students in the school’s 160-year history to ever win a national award in the prestigious contest, which has been recognizing writers since 1923.

“I feel like I know I have talent and it is really nice that others are recognizing I have talent,” she said. "It just doesn't feel real yet."

Cromartie will receive her Silver Medal award and cash prize during the National Ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Tuesday, May 31. After graduation she plans to study English in college, but is currently undecided on a school.