NationalwinnersRed Bank Regional Creative Writing teacher Dr. Gretna Wilkinson  is pictured at center with RBR students Mya Nunnaly and Liv Winnicki. Mya and Liv were respectively winners of National Gold and Silver Medals in the annual Scholastic Art Awards, with Mya also winning a prestigious Gedenk Award, seeing her poem published in the competition’s 2015 National Catalog, and meeting both Chelsea Clinton and Whoopi Goldberg at the Carnegie Hall ceremony. 

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

One of the most popular Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) programs at Red Bank Regional High School is Creative Writing. Every year, Dr. Gretna Wilkinson’s students make her proud at the national Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and this year was no exception, with 32 RBR Creative Writing Majors winning three dozen gold and silver medals, as well as 16 Honorable Mentions at the regional level.

GrouponePictured above with their teacher, Dr. Gretna Wilkinson are the award-wining Red Bank Regional Creative Writing Majors who amassed three dozen Gold and Silver Medals, as well as 16 Honorable Mentions at the regional level, in the 2015 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. They are: Suubi Mondesir, Abigail Decker, Willow Martin, Emilie Weiner, Giana Apreza, Abigail Westgate, Mia Heidenthal, Gabrielle Amorelli, Anthony Hernandez- Jiminez, Renae Ames, Fiona Taddei, Brooke Willemstyn, Ariel Balaban, Hannah Haugenes, Siobhan Hansen, Christopher Lefever, Sam Zatorski, Justin Giegerich, Patrick Tessenholtz, Corbin Neilsen, Emily Lugos, Lacey Reigler, Jordan Fleming, Meghan Pawlak, Ellen McCarthy, Marissa Albano, Emily Levine, Kayla Williams, Madison Zeller, Mya Nunnally, Liv Winnicki and Lola Todman.

Three of those 32 students went on to win National medals, with Liv Winnicki of Belmar and Lola Todman of Red Bank winning Silver Medals, and Mya Nunnally of Red Bank winning a Gold Medal. National finalists represented less than 1 percent of more than 300,000 submissions received for the annual competition, which is sponsored by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers.

As a gold medal winner, Mya and her family were invited to the Scholastic reception at Carnegie Hall, where she personally met special celebrity presenters Chelsea Clinton and Whoopi Goldberg.

A small percentage or of the Gold Medalists were then considered for the prestigious Gedenk Award, a monetary scholarship through a partnership with the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers and The Gedenk Movement (founded by Grammy Award winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari). Six students received the Gedenk award, and Mya’s submission was signaled out as the top entrant.

Celebrated by the judges with The Gedenk Award for Tolerance with Honors, Mya’s poem A House of Leaves Moments Before the Wind is introduced as “a poem for Kevin Carter, the photojournalist who took a picture of — but did not save — a child near death in the Sudan, posed in front of a vulture waiting for her death. He won the Pulitzer Prize for the photo, and committed suicide on my birthday.” Mya’s poem can be read in its entirety here.

Following the Carnegie Hall Awards Ceremony, Mya and her family were invited to a special reception as a Gedenk winner, and personally met with Miri Ben Ari.

Mya was completely surprised by the fanfare and overwhelmed by the honor explaining, “I walked into Carnegie hall and found out that I was on the list of winners who were to sit up front and meet with the founders. The whole thing was so amazing! My parents were over the moon!”

Her biggest fan and teacher Dr. Wilkinson states, “Mya is a brilliant, multi-talented, gentle soul. Having her in my class these past three years has allowed me the rare chance to encounter the very pulse rate of creativity itself. It beats with a steady rhythm and a welcome attitude of ‘okayness.’ Indeed, Mya works with language and imagery like teeth work with food…churning away until what’s left is a wholesome blend of mind-blowing sustenance for the intellect. I expect her to soar into enviable heights.”