Sophia Schaefer ’18 and Harrison Winrow ’18 have been accepted to the prestigious New England Young Writers Conference at the Bread Loaf campus of Middlebury College. The program accepts a maximum of two students from high schools across the country and takes place May 18-21.
Williston’s English Department Head Sarah Sawyer said the program is “excellent—and selective.” Williston students have gone every year since 2010.
It’s Sophia’s second time attending the conference; she was there last year. “I loved it. I am so excited and happy to be going back,” she said. “You are surrounded by people who love to read and write. It was a liberating experience for me. The conference is like an oasis where I can just focus on writing and reading.”
Sophia recently won a Scholastic Art and Writing Award (a Regional Silver Key in Humor) for her work “Booger Loser.”
She enjoys writers who reflect the coming-of-age experience: Tobias Wolfe, David Leviathan, and Sherman Alexie. She is currently reading short stories by fellow humorist David Sedaris.
When she takes up the pen, she writes creative nonfiction. “I like writing about my own experiences, but adding extra details to make it more interesting,” she said. “I also like writing poetry.”
It will be Harrison Winrow’s first visit to the conference. “I am very excited to work with some passionate students and professionals,” he said.
Harrison enjoys Billy Collins and Sherman Alexie “to stir me up,” and added that Dave Eggers is his favorite author.
When Harrison writes, he drifts toward poetry. “I just love the oft-rhythmic, lingering, romantic language, and the application as a visual art in structure, the raw emotion or cryptic narrative, and the strength–the implied strength from the words unwritten.”
“I love the freedom of writing,” he continued. “Just as I like the freedom of speaking: gusto, bravado, intonation, a reflection of self. This is also why my AP English 11 grade is as shameful as it is,” he quipped, “too much gusto, not enough analysis.”
At Williston, we strive to help all students develop as thinkers, athletes, artists, and people, but we are especially proud of how we help female students grow into strong, thoughtful, young women, ready to take on college and the world with confidence. In our supportive, yet challenging environment, girls are surrounded by other amazing female students, as well as excellent female teachers, coaches, and dorm parents, who create an environment where young women feel as though they can do anything. Here are three seniors in their final months at Williston, well prepared for what their futures hold.
Anna Wilinsky, a six-year day student proctor from Florence, Massachusetts, appreciates that Williston has consistently opened avenues for her to try something new and to be supported by faculty. Whether it was starting the computer programing club with her friend Molly (the majority of club members are girls), her role as editor of the literary magazine Janus, serving as an Areté and Writing Center tutor, or opting to build a ceramics portfolio in Arts Intensive this fall, she has tried something new each year with the support of her advisor and teachers.
“There is no place you can find where you will be so holistically and consistently supported than Williston,” she said. Recently Anna was inducted into Williston’s Cum Laude Society, which honors scholastic achievement in secondary scholars, and was accepted to Dartmouth College. She originally visited Dartmouth at the suggestion of her advisor, Susan Michalski, a Dartmouth graduate. “My advisor has been incredibly influential throughout my time at Williston,” Anna said. “Ms. Michalski’s encouragement and reassurance has helped me to break out of my shell and thrive. She knew Dartmouth would be a good fit for me, and as soon as I stepped on campus, I knew she was right. Her own experiences at Dartmouth shaped her life, and I am so excited to be able to share these experiences with her.”
Alexis Ryan came to Williston from Mesa, Arizona, and has been on the go since she arrived here three years ago. She is serving as a proctor, a member of the discipline committee, and is taking four AP courses. She takes on new challenges every day of the week. Additionally, she has been a varsity athlete on the field hockey, ice hockey, and track teams for her entire career here. While she’s been part of a NEPSAC Championship team and has earned two Individual Championships in track, her passion is on the ice during the winter. This year she is one of two seniors on the hockey team and the team won its Holiday Tournament at Winchendon.
Alexis’s play and leadership has been instrumental to the success of the team. She has made a home on the east coast and feels the sacrifices she made to leave her family at such a young age has given her more rigorous academic challenge and greater athletic opportunities. She feels ready and prepared for all that is ahead for her on the ice and in the classroom at Middlebury College, where she plans to go this fall. She has more to accomplish this winter and spring as she hopes to lead her hockey team to another playoff berth and is eager to break the school shot put record in the spring. She broke the record for the discus last spring and has her eye on the NEPSAC record as well.
Natalie Aquadro is leading the student body as student council president and is a captain of three sports teams: cross-country, swimming, and track. She describes two of the highlights of her athletic career at Williston as having a nearly undefeated cross-country season end at 12-1 her junior year, and winning the New England Championships in swimming and diving two years in a row. Natalie is a day student from Northampton, Massachusetts, and has been at Williston since seventh grade. She had pictured playing soccer and lacrosse all six years at Williston, only to be captivated by the energy of the running program. Once in the Upper School, Natalie discovered her passion for working with her classmates and joined the student council. She served as a class representative for three years before stepping into her role this year as student council president. In addition to Natalie’s athletics and student council work, she is an Admissions Intern, an Areté tutor, and has worked on Williston’s social media team, iWilliston. Natalie is still making up her mind about where to attend college.
Congratulations to these three smart, strong, and creative young women!