VALHALLA, N.Y. – The National Council of Teachers of English has recognized a Valhalla High School junior for her “Superior Performance in Writing.” The award is the organization’s highest honor.
Kyra Hickey was one of 533 high school juniors from across the country to apply for the Achievement Awards in Writing Program and one of 260 to receive recognition.
Hickey, who received support from all of her English teachers, said she was proud to have earned the honor.
“It’s really validating,” she said. “I’ve always really liked to write. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of time to devote to that outside of school at the moment. However, it was really nice to win.”
Hickey’s application consisted of two writing samples, one original piece written expressly for the competition and another she selected as her favorite piece.
She worked with teacher Cayne Letizia while refining her stories over a five-day period.
Her original piece illustrated how people often choose to engage in activities out of obligation rather than enjoyment. It was written to meet the competition’s required theme, “Nurturing our passions and meeting our obligations.”
The teen’s selected piece was a memoir written about the first time she heard her mother swear.
“The two pieces played well off of each other,” said Letizia. “They were both really good. It’s wonderful that she had so much support from her teachers.”
Once her application was completed, Hickey’s work was reviewed by a nationwide panel of judges who focused on content, purpose, audience, tone, word choice, style and development.
“This is a cool honor,” Hickey said. “My success really speaks to all of the incredible teachers that I’ve had here in Valhalla. They pushed me and I did good work.”