Noblesville High School (NHS) Senior Abby Hanson is set to attend the University of Vermont as an English major in the fall. She has been writing for as long as she can remember and is currently an editor on her school newspaper, the Mill Stream, and an intern at the Noblesville Parks and Recreation Department.
“When I was little, it was short stories. Now it’s mainly poetry,” Hanson said. “I started writing poetry, like many kids do, in middle school. It was about as angsty and terrible as you’d expect, but I kept practicing, and under the guidance of the best English teachers a girl could ask for, I got better.”
At the regional level, several thousand entries were submitted to the Scholastic Writing Awards. And at the national level, more than 350,000 entries were submitted. This was Hanson’s third year entering the competition
This year, Hanson won the most gold keys out of any student in Indiana. Gold keys are the highest regional awards granted in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. When a student receives a gold key, it indicates that their piece will be judged at the national level.
“It’s funny to look back on how much I’ve changed since I was a sophomore with one gold key, completely confused by the submission process and totally uncertain of myself as a writer,” Hanson said. “I’ve grown so much since then.”
According to Hanson, the Scholastic Writing Awards have been an invaluable part of her creative journey, providing her with confidence and a community that she wouldn’t have otherwise.
This year, Hanson submitted a writing portfolio, something only seniors can do.
“My writing portfolio was the only one from Indiana to make it to national judging, and it was one of only 16 nationally to win a Silver with Distinction Portfolio Award,” Hanson said. “And because I won this award as well as a gold medal for one of my individual pieces, I was invited back to Carnegie Hall this year. I’m so unbelievably excited.”
NHS English Teacher Bill Kenley is one of Hanson’s teachers and has been at NHS for more than 20 years. He is also a published author with this High School Runner series.
According to Kenley, Abby, as a student, is very much self-directed.
“By that I don’t mean at all that she isn’t teachable. She’s a sponge. What I mean is that her curiosity and interest in her chosen subject – poetry – put her teacher in the position of an advisor more than what most would think of as a traditional English teacher,” Kenley said.
According to Kenley, Hanson writes as if she’s part of a larger tradition of poets and writers.
“While many young writers believe they’re being original with their work, they’re actually subconsciously and unknowingly repeating and mimicking previous writing,” Kenley said. “[Hanson] is aware to a pretty amazing extent of the traditions she’s becoming a part of. And she’s naturally very talented.”