Students recognized in Chinese essay-writing contest

Kaitlin Musante

Eight students in various Chinese classes received awards in an essay contest run by the Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools.

The contest was divided into three categories of submission: the regular category, the heritage category and the immersion program and all of those who applied from the school won a prize in their designated category.

Students wrote about a person in their life who influenced them.

The essays were scored based on their strength in comprehensibility, ideas and content, word choice and discourse, syntax and accuracy, and presentation and characters.

Applicants could win a “Gold Apple,” “Silver Apple,”or Honorable Mention. Diego Ayala ’18 won a “Gold Apple” in the regular advanced category, Sarah Moon ’19 and Tierni Kaufman ’19 won a “Silver Apple” in the regular advanced category and Strauss Cooperstein ’18 and Asher Vogel ’19 won Honorable Mentions in the regular advanced category. Sarah Wilen ’19, Francis de Beixedon ’19 and Charlie Meenaghan ’19 won Honorable Mentions in the Heritage Advanced category.

“I would say I felt accomplished because I worked very hard to write my essay, and that hard work then came to something,” Vogel said. “I just feel like we write so many essays for class anyway that just get graded and handed back. I just wanted to write one that could be read by more people.”

The Chinese program offered students the opportunity to participate in the contest for the first time this year in order to encourage them to demonstrate their proficiency in Chinese after multiple years of learning the language, Chinese teacher Kun Li said.

“I am proud of my students’ performance in this competition,” Li wrote in an email. “I started this because I want my students to have a sense of achievement after learning Chinese for three years at Harvard-Westlake. It is a good opportunity to demonstrate their proficiency level on a bigger stage outside school.”

Participating in the essay contest not only helped with Chinese essay-writing skills that are beneficial for school, but also provided an opportunity for students to reflect upon the people in their lives, Kaufman said.

“It was nice to prove to myself that I can write pretty fluently in Chinese, and it helped me to learn how to use all the different sentence structures in a cohesive essay,” Kaufman said. “I wrote about my dad and how he’s influenced me, but I wrote in Chinese, which is my mom’s background, so it was interesting to combine both of my heritages together.”