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Literary Arts Success at St. Mary’s

It has been an active early spring in the literary arts at St. Mary’s. After a stellar showing by St. Mary’s students in the regional Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, three students earned national honors for their work, Sofia Britten and Josie Smith earned gold medals. Britten for her poetry and Smith for her dramatic script. In addition, Anna Lipari earned a silver medal for her poetry. These national medals are awarded to fewer than 1% of all submitted works throughout the country; in Oregon, just thirteen students.

The Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life, on the University of Portland campus, holds an annual essay contest for juniors attending a Catholic high school in a seven-state western area. Just five prizes are awarded. This year Grace Graham won first-place for her graceful essay and Anastasia Klinger won honorable mention for her heartfelt piece. Congratulations to both!

Further recognition goes to Clea Thomas for winning an Oregon Poetry Association prize for her entry and Grace Bragdon for winning second place in a national poetry contest sponsored by Gannon University. Well done! Several other contests will be announcing winners soon; it would not be surprising to see more student success.

Finally, a huge shout out to Belise Nishemwe, the Oregon State Champion in this year’s Poetry Out Loud competition. This is a poetry recitation contest sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Nishemwe, a sophomore, was a newcomer to the regional and state level of competition, and impressed even Kim Stafford, Oregon’s current Poet Laureate. She has been featured in articles in The Oregonian, The Portland Tribune, The Catholic Sentinel (upcoming), as well as spots on the major local television stations. Even more impressive is that Belise came to this country as a refugee at age five, speaking not a word of English. Her family was sponsored by Catholic Relief Services after spending years in a camp in Tanzania, escaping the violence in Rwanda.

We are proud of all our students dedicated to the literary arts, these winners and all the brave writers who continue to find and proclaim their voice.