Reflective essay wins Naomi young writer prize

Naomi Provan pictured this week in the school library.

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A 5th year pupil at Arran High School has been highly commended in the Scottish Schools’ Young Writer of the Year competition.

Naomi Provan is one of eight students who has been highly commended in the prestigious Scotland wide awards won by 17-year-old Changshi Tang, a pupil of the High School of Dundee.

The competition was organised by the Scottish Review in association with the Young Programme charity. It was open to pupils in Scottish schools who were between the ages of 15 and 18.

It was a condition of entry that the work should be that of the author alone, unedited by a teacher, or anyone else, and that it should be a work of non-fiction. Pupils were asked to imagine that they were writing a feature or column for an intelligent magazine or serious newspaper. The articles were required to be between 900 and 1,100 words in length.

Naomi, who wrote a reflective essay about the death of her beloved grandmother, said she was pleased her essay had been so well received.

There was a large entry representative of schools in most parts of Scotland. As last year, the majority of work submitted was by girls – they accounted for 71 per cent  of entries.

A short-list of 11 papers were sent out to a panel of 31 judges, with no identification of author, age or school included. Members of the panel were asked to vote for their winner and two runners-up, and also append comments on their selection.

The eight highly commended entries, including Naomi, and eight commended writers will receive a certificate of recognition.

There was much praise for the short-listed articles. Actor Bill Paterson wrote: ‘All the entries in the short-list, without exception, gave a deep insight into the issues of identity and belonging, and to the pressures felt by young people today.

‘For those of us many decades away from our mid-teens, they lit up the complex world that young people are negotiating these days. Yet, despite touching on quite troubling issues such as racism and mental health, they nearly all had optimism and hope. We can all at least feel optimistic about the quality of writing that today’s young people can produce.’

Critic and writer Gillean Somerville-Arjat added: ‘This was no task for the faint of heart. There were five essays emerging from personal experience and six that were more discursive. All were extremely well-written and interesting. “A” passes in scholastic terms.’


Naomi Provan pictured this week in the school library. 01_B09writer01