Brandi Swingley, a senior at Capital High School, was mourning the death of her great-grandfather and had writer’s block when a friend suggested looking inside herself for inspiration, in places she’d usually avoid.
Swingley was one of four local high school students who recently won the Harrison Writing Award from the Helena Education Foundation. The other recipients are Helena High School junior Erinleigh Caughron, Capital sophomore Renee Elsen and Helena High senior Alexis Graman.
The Harrison Award is a targeted donation to HEF in memory of Ethel Harrison by her daughter, Lee Harrison, who selected the award’s purpose in order to focus the community’s attention on the importance of good writing skills.
Local author Clay Scott was among the committee members to select the winning writing from fiction and non-fiction categories.
He said often committee members agree on the best entries, even though there are superb pieces that are neck-and-neck until the end.
“Every year there are some difficult choices,” Scott said. “This year we were really blown away by the range of the entries and the depth. (Students) showed a nuance and maturity you wouldn’t find in a high school writing class.”
Read the award winning pieces: