Schools Prize (Wadadli Pen, 2018)

Why a Schools’ Prize?

To incentivize participation, of course.

But also to recognize and reward the efforts of not only the participating students but the teachers who go the extra mile to help them get the entries in.

From experience, we know that going the extra mile can include everything from prompting and pushing students to write, to typing and scanning and submitting entries on their behalf, and, now that we require entry forms, making sure that those are in too (sometimes filling them out yourself). It’s a cliché but true that teachers are already overextended (and underpaid), so for them to expend any energy at all in to what must seem to many an extraneous exercise is a mile beyond the extra. Except we know that the teachers who do go the extra mile do not see Wadadli Pen as an extraneous exercise – they understand that education and youth development is about much more than standardized tests; they understand the importance of challenging their students to be creative and expressive, to use their voice and articulate their ideas, to imagine. They know it matters irrespective of whether that young one is a future writer or not, and that it can impact their performance across disciplines – it’s not for nothing that we’ve seen a number of Wadadli Pen finalists go on not just to be writers or work in media, but to perform well academically and be confident of voice whatever their chosen career field (this letter from a past participant epitomizes that). That’s right, it’s our belief that even those who have taken a different path have benefited from the practice of writing (which is an art and craft, yes, but also a form of communication, and the ability to communicate your ideas and perspective is confidence-building).

And so we applaud St. Andrew’s School and especially educator Marissa Walter for claiming the schools’ prize in the 2018 Wadadli Pen Challenge, St. Andrew's a prize that has gone in the past to Buckley’s Primary (2005), and then when we started getting regular sponsorship for the schools’ prize Antigua Wesleyan Junior Academy (2012), Antigua Girls High School (2013), St. John’s Catholic Primary (2013), T N Kirnon (2014), Christ the King High School (2016), and Island Academy (2017). Obviously, we hope that a winning school will continue to be a strong performer which isn’t always the case for a mix of reasons (see earlier note about teachers being over-extended and underpaid). So, though we know the odds, we encourage St. Andrews’ students to continue writing and continue submitting…and above all continue imagining, dreaming, creating, communicating, and expressing themselves.

Congratulations to St. Andrews.


Walter, pictured back left, with other finalists and Wadadli Pen partners at the 2018 Challenge awards ceremony.


PRIZES WON: Books – With Grace (2), Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure (1), The Wonderful World of Yohan (1), Antigua My Antigua (1), and Other books and prizes including a storytelling hour with Uncle Glen from donors Floree Whyte and Moondancer Books, Joanne C. Hillhouse, Barbara Arrindell, and The Best of Books

ABOUT WADADLI PEN 2018: The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize launched in 2004 with a writing Challenge that continues 14 years later. The project was launched by Joanne C. Hillhouse with D. Gisele Isaac and the Young Explorer publication. Today, its core team is Hillhouse with past finalists Devra Thomas and Margaret Irish, and writers and long time patrons and partners Floree Whyte and Barbara Arrindell. The name of each winner is emblazoned on the Alstyne Allen Memorial plaque, named for one of the project’s earliest volunteers (and sister-friend of founder, Joanne C. Hillhouse) who died in 2015. The Challenge is Wadadli Pen’s pilot project, in keeping with its mandate to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda. The Challenge has encouraged young writers in Antigua and Barbuda (35 years and younger) to write on any topic, within a Caribbean aesthetic. It doesn’t often prescribe other limitations, but this year it did request specifically historical fiction/poetry. Normally, prizes are broken down by age categories but this year it’s winner take all with only one winner and a handful of honourable mentions (Andre Warner, Rosie Pickering, Andrecia Lewis, Chloe Martin, and Ava Ralph). Congratulations to them all. Thanks to the patrons and to partners – Floree Whyte, Barbara Arrindell, Devra Thomas, and Margaret Irish. To find out how you can continue to support the work of Wadadli Pen contact

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Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, Literary Gallery, Wadadli Pen 2018, Wadadli Pen News

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