Religions and Spirituality

Local Students Win Top Awards in Writing Competition Boasting Sylvia Plath, Langston Hughes, Robert Frost and More as Past Winners/Judges

Left to right: Ms. Chana Krasnjanski, Zachary Kotzker, Ms. Debra Orens, Emily Gruber, Maya Benzaken, Elana Israeli, Julia Labovitz, Becky Weisberg, Lindsay Getraer, Ms. Diane Bohs and Rabbi Eliezer Rubin. Credits: Rachel Scheinberg
Left to right: Mrs. Debbie Finkelstein, Yogi Sragow, Nina Gerszberg, Ms. Ariella Landy, Ms. Ariel Levenson, Maya Minsky, Erin Feiglin and Ms. Stacey Zeif. Credits: Rachel Scheinberg

LIVINGSTON, NJ - Competing against thousands of middle school and high school students from across the Northeast, 12 students from the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy (JKHA) and Rae Kushner Yeshiva (RKYHS) High School were awarded top prizes in the Scholastic Writing Awards competition for their literary submissions. Of the 12 students awarded, eight are RKYHS students ranging from grades nine through 12 and four are in the seventh and eighth grade. While the work of all 12 students received impressive awards, the work of ninth grader Becky Weisberg received the highest Gold Key award for her Flash Fiction writing submission and her work will be entered into the nationwide competition, the results of which will be announced in March.

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards competition is the oldest and most esteemed student writing competition in the nation, recognizing the work of creative teens across the United States. Competing in the “Northeast Region-At-Large,” the Kushner students were up against top students from throughout Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. 

The contest accepts submissions in 28 categories of art and writing, and students have the chance to earn scholarships and have their works exhibited or published. The impressive list of previous literary awardees includes writers Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, and Joyce Carol Oates. The Scholastic Awards submissions are juried by top names in the visual and literary arts, some of whom are past award recipients. Notable past jurors include Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Paul Giamatti, Judy Blume, Lesley Stahl and David Sedaris.

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Mentored by the school’s English and Language Arts department faculty, the students were able to hone their skills, while receiving guidance along the way. The students submitted work in such categories as Flash Fiction, Personal Essay/Memoir, Science Fiction, Short Story and Poetry.  

“Our students’ awards are illustrative of their dedication, creativity and drive,” commented Ariel Levenson, Director of Humanities, JKHA Middle School. “All of our students who participated in the contest this year worked hard to edit and develop their works as they continue to hone their writing skills in and out of the classroom. We are tremendously proud of their accomplishments as we watch them soar to greater heights.”

“It is an honor and privilege to work with such dedicated and gifted writers,” added Diane Bohs, English Department Chair, RKYHS. “For their writing to be so highly recognized is a testament to their exceptional work and talent.” 

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