Two Williston Students Head To Prestigious Writers Conference

Sophia Schaefer ’18 and Harrison Winrow ’18 have been accepted to the prestigious New England Young Writers Conference at the Bread Loaf campus of Middlebury College. The program accepts a maximum of two students from high schools across the country and takes place May 18-21.

Williston’s English Department Head Sarah Sawyer said the program is “excellent—and selective.” Williston students have gone every year since 2010.

It’s Sophia’s second time attending the conference; she was there last year. “I loved it. I am so excited and happy to be going back,” she said. “You are surrounded by people who love to read and write. It was a liberating experience for me. The conference is like an oasis where I can just focus on writing and reading.”

Sophia recently won a Scholastic Art and Writing Award (a Regional Silver Key in Humor) for her work “Booger Loser.”

She enjoys writers who reflect the coming-of-age experience: Tobias Wolfe, David Leviathan, and Sherman Alexie. She is currently reading short stories by fellow humorist David Sedaris.

When she takes up the pen, she writes creative nonfiction. “I like writing about my own experiences, but adding extra details to make it more interesting,” she said. “I also like writing poetry.”

Harrison Winrow ’18, seen here performing in The Comedy of Errors, will attend the conference for the first time this May.

It will be Harrison Winrow’s first visit to the conference. “I am very excited to work with some passionate students and professionals,” he said.

Harrison enjoys Billy Collins and Sherman Alexie “to stir me up,” and added that Dave Eggers is his favorite author.

When Harrison writes, he drifts toward poetry. “I just love the oft-rhythmic, lingering, romantic language, and the application as a visual art in structure, the raw emotion or cryptic narrative, and the strength–the implied strength from the words unwritten.”

“I love the freedom of writing,” he continued. “Just as I like the freedom of speaking: gusto, bravado, intonation, a reflection of self. This is also why my AP English 11 grade is as shameful as it is,” he quipped, “too much gusto, not enough analysis.”