Creative Writing student winners in RCLA contest

Vanessa Laudon, Reporter

The Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder/Wild writing contest was created in Silver Spring, Maryland. This competition asks intergenerational groups to write about their experiences with nature. 


The Rachel Carson Landmark Alliance website states, “contestants were required to have a group of 2 or more people, the team must be an intergenerational team, your team must choose one of these two themes, Sense of Wonder or Sense of Wonder/Sense of the Wild, your team must decide on its writing category Poem or Essay, an original photograph taken by the team can be added in either category, your entry form must be completed and your team must have the names and ages of all of your team members on your entry form, a team member may be in the U.S. or be from outside of the U.S., a teacher may be a team member, an individual may be a member of more than one team.” Additional information can be found on their website:


The RCLA writing contest awarded winners in the Sense of Wonder/Wild categories and also in an additional category: Role of Nature in Family Relationships.


Elizabeth Jorgensen, AHS English teacher, says she asks her students to submit pieces to the RCLA writing contest because it helps them share their experiences and practice their writing skills. She also says she likes how the students have to work in groups.


Kenna Koller, a senior said, “It feels amazing that hard work gets recognized! I feel like this year was the year I found my passion for writing, thanks to Ms. Jorgensen. I couldn’t have done it without her or my friend Kaia Lofy, who also worked on this piece with me.”


The poem that won first place for the Sense of Wonder category was “The Circle of Light” by Kenna Koller, a senior, Kaia Lofty, a junior and Jorgensen. 


One of the judges said the following about “The Circle of Light” poem: “This entry is a visual poem, using line arrangement and white space to allow the sun to perform its setting and rising on the page.” 


The two poems that won second place for the Sense of Wonder category were “The Songs of Nature” by Sidney Grace Heberlein a sophomore, age 16, Sara Lynn

Heberlein and Jorgensen and “High Above Chicago” by Max Steffen, a junior and Jorgensen. 


The judge said the following about the “High Above Chicago” poem: “This poem shows us the diverse sources of wonder, capturing a rare sighting of nature-a single tree- in an urban setting.”


Heberlein a sophomore, said, “I am just so extremely happy that so many people enjoyed my poem!” It is truly an honor to have my poem on a winner’s list.”


“I am so proud of my students,” Jorgensen says. “They wrote such beautiful things and I’m so glad they were recognized in this national writing competition. I particularly enjoyed working alongside my students. I also enjoyed seeing them collaborate with parents, grandparents and siblings. The accolades were all very well deserved.”