EASTCONN Where Learning Comes to Life

media Menu

18 ACT Writing Students Honored in Regional Contest; 5 Move on to Nationals

Willimantic – Eighteen students at EASTCONN’s Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT) magnet high school have won 26 awards for their writing and poetry from the 2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, a prestigious national program that has supported teenagers’ artistic development since 1923. ACT received the second highest number of awards in the state of Connecticut, behind Rockville High School in Vernon.

“The number of students recognized for their work is evidence of their dedication to their art and the quality of instruction they receive at ACT,” said ACT Principal Sarah Mallory.

Five of ACT’s 18 student winners earned 7 Gold Key Awards, Scholastic’s highest honor, in the first round of regional writing competitions among Northeastern states. ACT’s Gold Key winners are junior India Arriola, Hampton, for her poetry; senior Shannon Gorman, Plainfield, for her writing portfolio; freshman Frankie McGinley, Ashford, for his poetry; junior Mae Santillo, Lebanon, for her poetry; and senior Vivi Sun, Norwich, winner of 3 Gold Key awards for her poetry, a humor piece  and portfolio. Their works will now compete with regional Scholastic Gold Key winners from across the United States. Winners of the national Gold Key Awards will be announced later this spring.

"The Scholastic contest is a big opportunity because it helps provide motivation and a surge in writing,” said ACT Creative Writing teacher John Wetmore. “I am happy that our students received awards, but I am most proud of the process the writers went through to revise and polish their pieces so that they could submit their best work.” All of ACT’s Scholastic winners take Wetmore’s Creative Writing classes.

Other ACT students whose work was honored by Scholastic with Silver Keys and Honorable Mentions include: junior William Beaudry, Willimantic, poetry; junior Alex Castro, Hebron, poetry; freshman Rachel Charron, Plainfield, poetry and short story; senior Juliet Duchesne, Willimantic, poetry and flash fiction; junior Grace Ellis, Norwich, poetry; sophomore Aracelis Gomez, Norwich, personal essay; junior DJ Hettinger, Willimantic, short story; sophomore Jordan Pelletier, Amston, poetry; senior Sammi Rain, Rogers, poetry; freshman Nayeli Ramos, Willimantic, poetry; sophomore Carson Rice, Moosup, poetry and short story; freshman Sonya Surface, Willimantic, poetry; and senior Michael Williams, Andover, poetry.

EASTCONN’s ACT arts magnet high school enrolls students in grades 9-12 from northeastern Connecticut. Located in EASTCONN’s historic Capitol Theater in downtown Willimantic, ACT offers small classes and a rigorous, standards-based curriculum with an emphasis on the arts and developing students’ artistic talents.

To learn more about ACT or its Creative Writing program, contact ACT Principal Sarah Mallory at 860-465-5636 or visit www.eastconn.org/act. ACT is a magnet high school administered by EASTCONN, a public, non-profit, Regional Educational Service Center that has been serving the education needs of northeastern Connecticut schools and communities since 1980.


The 93-year-old Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is the longest-running, most prestigious recognition program for creative teens in the U.S., and the largest source of scholarships for young artists and writers. Begun as a small writing contest with six winning applicants in 1923, the contest today draws entries nearly 320,000 works of art and writing in 29 categories from students in grades 7-12 across the U.S. Top winners have access to more than $3.5 million in scholarships. Winners also earn an opportunity to exhibit and/or publish their work. The Awards are presented on behalf of Scholastic by the non-profit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers (www.artandwriting.org).