Students Ponder “Chivalry” for Cabrini Writing Awards

Dr. Jacqueline Doud presents the Cabrini Writing Award to Lucy Celoni.

Since this is the Graduation Issue, let’s put the spotlight on some students and the Cabrini Literary Guild’s annual Creative Writing Awards, held at the Oakmont Country Club in Glendale. I think the phrase I heard most when I arrived was that it was a “blessed afternoon,” and indeed it was. I got to meet the great people who are dedicated to the Cabrini Literary Guild’s mission, a noble cause which is to assist Catholic and charitable organizations. Among their activities, the Guild stimulates interest in Catholic literature, thought, action and philanthropy. They also help inspire students to explore their creative writing talents. That’s what brought us all together.

The Guild established the annual writing contest which is open to the Catholic High Schools in the Los Angeles Archdiocese. More than 100 entries from seven schools were submitted for the 2011 Cabrini Writing Awards, reports Carla Cotti, the director of the writing awards. Deserving praise for their participation were the following high schools: Bishop Conaty, Cathedral High, Holy Family, La Salle, Mayfield, St. Lucy’s Priory and Villanova.

Cotti says it’s “good to inspire the students to grow and do better,” and that is the purpose of the writing contest, which had a special theme this year. The students were given the prompter to write a paper in defense of a person who has broken the code of chivalrous behavior (as defined in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales). Along with Beverly Robinson and Ted Cotti, I had the wonderful experience to participate as a judge. And I was inspired by the blossoming teenage writers who ponder thoughts about chivalry. Some focused on how it applied to them, others on relatives, celebrities or even fictional characters.

I was impressed, not only by the creativity, but also the heart and soul that went into the entries. It was hard to pick the winners, because it’s like trying to choose which child you like best. You love them all for different reasons. The winners came to awards luncheon to receive congratulations, along with their teachers and parents who were also recognized.

The Cabrini Writing Awards 2011 recipients are: First Place, Lucy Celoni, from Holy Family High School; Second Place, Carmela Feliciano, Mayfield Senior School; Third Place, Amy Epperson, St. Lucy’s Priory; and Fourth Place, Maya Soni, Mayfield. Added this year were Dr. Alan Robinson’s Honorable Mention Awards. They went to Lucia Magos, Savannah Villa, Ashley Schammel, and Matthew Burdette.

After Joan Sandon, president of the Cabrini Literary Guild, welcomed everyone and lead the salute to the flag, Father Paul Hruby gave the opening prayer. Sister Regina was also on hand. Carla Cotti extended special thanks to the events committee, and the awards’ acclaimed presenter, Jacqueline Powers Doud, Ph.D., president of Mount St. Mary’s College. It would be hard for the student to find a better role model than Dr. Doud, who has a tremendous legacy of remarkable service at colleges and universities.

Dr. Doud spoke to the students about how writing is so near and dear to her heart. “Writing, more than any other skill, is needed for success in any field. It empowers. It clarifies our thoughts. And to write something engages your imagination.”

The top award was certainly the most imaginative entry. It was from Lucy Celoni of Glendale, whose paper was titled “The Curious Case of Severus Snape.” She kept to the theme of the contest, defending the character from the Harry Potter stories for breaking the code of chivalrous behavior. But she put it in the form of a cleverly written poem. The Cabrini Literary Guild should be proud of fostering such blessed creativity.