“Coronavirus is like a tsunami that hits you unaware. It is like an impenetrable wave of fury, as the clear sky fades to stormy gray, and shouts of fear fill a surprised world. It is indifferent to everyone: a head of a nation, a trained medical worker, or a seventh-grader like me.”
Such profound thoughts from SJHS student Allison Wu; which earned her national accolades for her writing. For the piece, “Another Sky,” Allison received a National Silver Medal from the 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. In it, she accurately depicts how quickly the pandemic transformed life across the globe and for her own world. She writes, “This pandemic is the reason I am here, at home, occasionally saying “hi” to my friends through the lenses of a computer. During my first week home, I became proficient using four different online meeting tools that I had never heard of before. The first time I ever had a virtual lesson, all my classmates appeared in tiny boxes, highlighted by electric green every time they spoke. How could muted people with faces enveloped by a black square with their names beneath ever replace the real thing?”
Allison has a relatable story to tell, but it’s all her own. When I asked about her writing process for “Another Sky” she explained, “since March 2020, a lot of changes happened due to the pandemic. I have been in remote learning ever since. In the beginning, it was a little overwhelming. I found writing a great resort and wrote more than ever. I tried to record my journey through the time of a global pandemic. I experienced different types of feelings: sadness, boredom, uncertainty, and most importantly, hope.”
Allison powerfully describes similarities she finds in all the differences. She reflects on taking up gardening and picking weeds with her brother and compares it to “fighting the invisible enemy of the coronavirus.” From these unpredictable times, Allison chose not to feel defeated by the pandemic, but to grow from the experience. “Distancing sometimes made me feel closer,” she writes, “quarantine led me to learn new things I’m certain I might never have tried.”
“In this beautifully written piece, Allison shows us that writing is so much more than a means by which we show our knowledge on a test. Writing is a means by which we can discover and express our most authentic selves,” said Deputy Superintendent Kathleen Skeals.
Allison first earned a gold medal regionally before entering “Another Sky” into the national competition among nearly 320,000 original works of writing and art. The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards were founded nearly a century ago, with well known winners like: Andy Warhol, Tschabalala Self, and Stephen King. “I am sure we will hear more about her in the years to come. I am impressed and inspired by her work,” said Allison’s virtual ELA teacher, Christina Froehlich.