Academic News

Scholastic Award Winners


A “remarkable” number of student writers and artists were recognized in the Massachusetts Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the nation’s longest-running competition to identify creative talent among students. Thirty-one students earned 43 writing honors and 19 students earned 34 art honors. Last week, Ms. Baker and Mr. Nobles announced the winners at assembly.

In writing, Anne Kwok 21 received numerous awards in poetry and fiction including three Gold Keys, one Silver Key, and one Honorable Mention. For her poem “Aubade For My Sister,” she also received an American Voices and Visions Medal, the highest regional Scholastic honor.

“It is one of the more abstract poems I’ve written,” said Anne, who currently takes the creative writing course and the poetry half course. “I’m experimenting with new forms of writing and exploring different poetry forms.”

Last fall, her work was also recognized by the Foyles Young Poets competition, when she was awarded Commended Poet. Anne said she’s always loved writing, but at Milton she has more opportunities to write poetry. She’s also enjoyed having visiting poets on campus, such as Gregory Pardlo, who spent time in her class. “I’d been struggling a lot with appropriating someone else’s voice and he told me it’s about finding the individual story and to focus on that.”

Erica Yip 20, who earned a Gold Key and Silver Key in poetry, also was a finalist in the 2020 Young Arts National Competition for a play script adapted from a piece of her fiction.

In the Scholastic Arts Awards, Grace Li 20 earned awards in photography including a Gold Key for her photograph “space and movement,” a Silver Key for “blue bedroom” (in photo) and four Honorable Mentions.

“One of the reasons I am drawn to photography is the ability to warp a viewer’s perception of reality through a medium that, historically, has been trusted to accurately capture it,” said Grace. “With Polaroid film specifically, I enjoy experimenting with different ways to manipulate the film and chemicals used to develop the image. By changing the temperature or interfering with the development of the film, I can create new realities.”

Scholastic works in conjunction with the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University and the Boston Globe to judge regional winners. Gold Key winners are welcome to participate in the regional awards celebration, which will be held on March 14 at Tufts. Gold Key work is currently being reviewed at the national level in New York City by panels of creative professionals for National Medal honors.

All Scholastic Writing Regional Gold Key Winners

Victoria Choo: personal narrative

Katie Conn: poetry

Anne Kwok: fiction

Anne Kwok: poetry

Anne Kwok: poetry

Nara Mohyeddin: poetry

Erika Yip: poetry


All Scholastic Writing Regional Silver Key Winners

India Claudy: fiction

India Claudy: poetry

Eliza Dunn: fiction

Ainsley Iwanicki: poetry

Anne Kwok: fiction

Shiloh Liu: personal narrative

Grace Perryman: poetry

Erika Yip: poetry

All Scholastic Writing Portfolio Winners

Katie Conn

Beck Kendig

Malia Chung

All Scholastic Writing Regional Honorable Mention Winners

Samantha Bateman: poetry

Alison Blake: personal narrative

Carolina Bragg: poetry

Alison Cao: poetry

Michelle Chen: personal narrative

Victoria Choo: fiction

Katie Conn: fiction

Fatou Diaw: poetry

Michael Dmitrienko: poetry

Josh Hwang: fiction

Josh Hwang: poetry

John Hwang: critical essay

Ainsley Iwanicki: fiction

Anne Kwok: poetry

Sophie Lachenauer: poetry

Grace Li: poetry

Bella Lora: poetry

Eleni Mazareas: poetry

Leydn McEvoy: poetry

Anthony Mora: poetry

Liv Pouliot: poetry

Tapti Sen: poetry

Lynn Yuan: poetry

Cece Zinny: poetry

All Scholastic Art Regional Gold Key Winners

Alexandra Barron: photography, Young Eagle Huntress

Alexandra Barron: photography, Daily Chores

Thea Chung: photography, Girls at the Park

Grace Li: photography, space and movement

William Livingston: ceramics & glass, Texas Longhorn

Daisy Marshall: sculpture, Runner’s High

Eloise Maybank: drawing & illustration, Portrait of Edward Fox


All Scholastic Art Regional Silver Key Winners

Alexandra Barron: photography, tossed away

Alexandra Barron: photography, A Fleeting Moment in Venice

Alexandra Barron: photography, Son of God

Jeanette Hitt: photography, Gleam

Jeanette Hitt: photography, Self-Portrait

Ainsley Iwanicki: ceramics & glass, Botanical #7

Ainsley Iwanicki: ceramics & glass, Wood Coil #3

Grace Li: photography, blue bedroom

Jennifer Lim: drawing & illustration, Subway Station Entrance

Yidan Yuan: comic art, Asphyxia


All Scholastic Art Regional Honorable Mention Winners

Nicole Cepeda: painting, Liberation

Thea Chung: photography, Pinks

Thea Chung: photography, Skin

Ethan Furdak: painting, Facets of Modern Materialism

Grace Li: photography, Views over Tibidabo

Grace Li: photography, gentle shadows

Grace Li: photography, streets of barcelona

Grace Li: photography, the outlook

Zach Neri: printmaking, Self Portrait Print

Jalen Nixon: photography, Inside from the Outside

Henry Perry-Friedman: photography, J&J Soft Serve

Jennifer Small: photography, Apples

Jiawei Sun: drawing & illustration, Perfect Strangers

Olivia Taveira: art portfolio, Digital Illustrations

Madeleine Weiler: photography, Orange Crowned Warbler

Yidan Yuan: mixed media, Cut Her Off

Yidan Yuan: drawing & illustration, City of Two Worlds

Successful Year for Robotics Team


The robotics team is on a roll this year, with three robots qualifying for the U.S. Open Robotics Championship in Iowa in April. Under the leadership of team captains Diego Domenig ’20, Avery Miller ’20, and Tony Tao ’20, the team participates in VEX Robotics, which challenges students to design and build robots that compete against others in a small arena where the robots complete certain tasks for points.

Freshman Ryan Shue, who drives one of the robots, says, “It’s great to work with people who have the same interests as you. And it’s a fun way to apply that interest in and knowledge of engineering.”

Every day after school, team members meet in their space down in the basement of the Art and Media Center. “They’re here all the time, until 6 p.m. on weekdays and later on Fridays,” said Chris Hales, computer science department chair. “They are so dedicated. They put in the time so they can improve and succeed.”

Before nationals, the team will compete in the Southern New England VRC High School Regional Championship in mid-March. This competition is important because it’s a chance for the robots to qualify for the VEX Robotics World Championship, which will be in Kentucky in late April.

Ryan and Tony both said one of their favorite competitions this year was the Night at the Museum, held at the National Air and Space Museum in Virginia. Sixty of the best high school teams from around the world competed in a room holding the space shuttle Discovery.

Poet Robert Pinsky on Translating Dante’s Inferno

pinsky-300x172Three-term U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky discussed his translation of Dante’s Inferno with students taking Founding Voices: Literature from the Ancient World through the Renaissance.

In a free-flowing conversation, an affable Mr. Pinksy answered students’ questions about his translation, which they are reading in class. He explained how his full translation came about after he was invited to translate one of the Inferno cantos for an anthology. He also helped another poet with his assigned canto and realized how much he enjoyed the work.

“I’m very interested in difficulty—a worthy difficulty—not trivial or canned. I realized with this, I had a difficulty that I really loved,” said Mr. Pinsky.

The full translation took a year of work and then another year showing his work to colleagues and Italian friends. “You can’t translate Italian sounds into English; you have to find an equivalent. So if a word sounds great in Italian, you have to find a word that sounds great in English,” said Mr. Pinsky.

When asked by a student if he ever had to compromise, Mr. Pinksy laughed and said he had two answers: “Absolutely never. And every second.”

He also discussed the challenge of translating poetry lines from a language that uses many more syllables than English. In order for the two translations to run side-by-side in the book, they “padded” the English translation with white space.

He read aloud Canto 32 and then exclaimed, “Clearly, Dante knows how to tell a story, and it’s an outrageous story!” He talked about the act of reading, “Ideally, you want to read with your mouth and ears, feel it and get to know it. It’s like listening to a song that you like for the first time. You are not really paying attention to the words, but just listening and enjoying the music. Then on the second or third listen, you might pay more attention to the words.”

Pinsky is a professor of English and creative writing in the graduate writing program at Boston University. His anthology The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. His work has earned him the PEN/Voelcker Award, the William Carlos Williams Prize, the Lenore Marshall Prize, Italy’s Premio Capri, the Korean Manhae Award, and the Harold Washington Award from the City of Chicago, among other accolades.

Speech Students Qualify for NSDA National Tournament

20-02_speech-teamDuring the first weekend of February, Milton’s speech and debate team joined 20 other member schools to compete in the New England National Speech and Debate Association District Qualifying Tournament. Top students from the tournament will represent the region at the NSDA National Tournament in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in June. All six of Milton’s finalists, listed below, qualified for nationals:

Dramatic Interpretation 
Ben Simpson
Miranda Paiz

Humorous Interpretation

Jack Burton


Jana Amin

International Extemp

Tyler Tjang

Original Oratory

Nyla Sams

Milton’s team also earned 2nd Place in Speech Sweepstakes based on the students’ performances, and Neha Modak qualified as 2nd alternate in U.S. Extemp, earning 5th place in her division.

Wonderful and Worthy—Students are Already There, Talbot Speaker Says

Adia-Gooden-web-192x300“How would you engage in your life if you knew you were wonderful just as you are?” Dr. Adia Gooden asked Milton students. “I want you to think about what you would have the courage to do if you knew you were worthy.”

Dr. Gooden, a licensed clinical psychologist, visited campus as this year’s Talbot Speaker. She is the director of community programs and outcome measurement at the Family Institute at Northwestern University. She spoke with students about the issues of imposter syndrome and low self-worth, things that make even the highest achievers feel as if they are unworthy in their day-to-day lives.

Imposter syndrome makes a person feel as if they don’t belong in a place, even when they have been specifically chosen to be there. For students at a selective school like Milton, or for adults in their workplaces, that feeling can manifest itself in different ways: People may “make themselves small” and fly under the radar for fear that others will discover they don’t belong; they may procrastinate on tasks they feel unqualified to complete; or they may put unsustainable pressure on themselves to be perfect.

Low self-worth can affect anyone, Dr. Gooden said, and she believes it is the root of many mental illnesses. People are constantly exposed to messages—internal and external—that tell them they’re not adequate for various reasons, and those in marginalized communities are especially vulnerable, she explained.

Struggle and discomfort are normal, even helpful, parts of growth. A person’s value is not in their possessions or achievements, but in their individuality, she reminded students. She offered four strategies for students to feel worthy and a sense of belonging: Practice self-acceptance; practice self-compassion, especially after mistakes, and allow yourself to feel your real emotions; connect to supportive people; and identify your unique strengths and what you can contribute to your community.

Social media, despite its usefulness in connecting people, exacerbates both imposter syndrome and low self-worth, according to Dr. Gooden. “It’s become easier and easier to spend hours comparing ourselves to one another,” she said. Disabling app notifications can help social media users check their feeds only when they want to, and not because they feel compelled to.

The Samuel S. Talbot ’65 Memorial Fund for Counseling and Community Issues, established in 1993, enhances the School’s efforts in teaching community members about affective behavioral issues.

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