Student Spotlight: Maggie Hoppel

Student Spotlight: Maggie Hoppel

Writer / Matt Keating
Photography Provided

Maggie Hoppel, a senior at Noblesville High School, was recently named as a national Scholastic Gold Medal winner for her writing.Maggie Hoppel

She was recognized for writing a portfolio called “That Should Have Been the End of It.”

“The portfolio included six works – a poem, two science fiction stories, two humor pieces, and an opinions article I wrote for the Noblesville High School Mill Stream school newspaper,” Hoppel says. “An overall theme within the portfolio is that life’s unnecessary complications, while frustrating, are also meaningful in their complexity.”

Hoppel was honored to win the gold medal.

“This year is the 100th anniversary of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, which aim to celebrate young writers and support them on their journey to adulthood,” Hoppel says. “My mom stumbled across the awards online when I was in seventh grade, but I didn’t scrape up the courage to enter until William Kenley, my creative-writing teacher, encouraged our class to give it a shot last year.”

Hoppel remembers Kenley showing her class a video of Tina Fey speaking to some previous national winners at Carnegie Hall.

“Afterwards, on the way to lunch I said, ‘I’m going to go there. What does it take?’” Hoppel says. “Being a writer means a lot to me, so I’m willing to put in the work for any chance I have to get my stories out there.”

Hoppel says the Scholastic awards begin with a regional judging.

“For central Indiana, this is run by the Hoosier Writing Project,” Hoppel says. “Winners of this judging are awarded either an Honorable Mention, Silver Key or Gold Key. Then, the Gold Key winners advance to the national judging in New York City. There, most people don’t win anything. My first year, I received two Gold Key awards regionally, but my pieces weren’t successful at nationals. On the other hand, this year I received a Gold Medal as well as two Silver Medals at the national level, one for my second writing portfolio, ‘Animal Instincts,’ and one for my humor piece titled ‘The Four Horsemen of the COVID-19 Apocalypse.’”

There are lots of different categories students can submit pieces to for the Scholastic Awards.

“My friend Addie Cooley won a Gold Key regionally for her fashion piece, ‘Thoughts and Prayers,’ which is really beautiful,” Hoppel says. “The National Gold Medal Portfolio Award is the highest honor an entrant can receive because it demonstrates technical skill across many different genres. It’s exclusive to high school seniors, where the other categories are open to seventh grade and up, and it comes with the biggest scholarship offered by the awards.”

Maggie HoppelHoppel beat out over 300,000 students to be one of only eight Gold Medal winners in the United States. She will be honored with a reception at Carnegie Hall and a $12,500 scholarship.

“There are lots of national Gold Medalists across the different art and writing categories, and all are invited to Carnegie Hall, but only eight writing portfolios and eight art portfolios are chosen to receive the $12,500 scholarship,” Hoppel says. “I discovered that I won through a Zoom meeting with the awards program marketing and outreach team. Absolutely nothing could have prepared me for the excitement I felt that day. I remember leaving my student assisting block to call my family, and my hand was shaking and sweating so much it was hard to keep my phone pressed to my ear.”

Hoppel says being singled out from 300,000 people as a winner is a surreal experience.

“Out of all the talented teen writers across the United States and Canada, Scholastic looked at my voice, my snarky tone, and my poems that don’t rhyme and said, ‘Yup, that’s the one,’” she says. “That’s crazy. While it’s incredibly validating, it also carries the weight of a prestigious legacy that I’m responsible to uphold.”

Hoppel notes that Noblesville High School offers the only advanced creative writing class in the state.

“I owe my success to the support of my teachers and this amazing community,” she says. “Growing as a writer with the mentorship of my creative writing teacher, William Kenley, my journalism teacher, Joseph Akers, and my English teacher, Howard Jankowski, has been such a joy. My creative writing classmates, fellow Mill Stream staffers, and go-to writing buddies were a huge blessing as well. Krista Horbett, who also won several regional awards this year, critiqued almost every single one of my pieces before submission day. Most of all, I’m so lucky to have supportive parents who have encouraged me in pursuing my dream of writing full time since day one. They’ve always said that if I’m willing to work hard to create opportunities for myself, a career in the arts is as attainable as any other.”

Hoppel was also honored with a Silver Medal for another writing assignment.

“I also won a Silver Medal for my portfolio titled ‘Animal Instincts,’” Hoppel says. “My humor piece, ‘The Four Horsemen of the COVID-19 Apocalypse,’ which is one of the six pieces included in ‘That Should Have Been the End of It,’ also won a Silver Medal as a stand-alone piece. In total that makes one Gold Medal and two Silver Medals, which I am so grateful for.”

Hoppel’s writing will also appear in a national anthology this summer.

“The national awards puts together an anthology of all the Gold Medal winners called ‘The Best Teen Writing’ for each year,” Hoppel says. “They also publish the featured pieces on their website. You can expect these to come out this summer. Additionally, I was honored to appear in the regional anthology for central Indiana this year and last. The Hoosier Writing Project gave out copies to the writers and their families during the regional awards ceremony back in March. When my grandma got her copy of this anthology, she immediately cracked it open and began reading my work to our family out loud. It was wild to be able to say, ‘I wrote that. It was me.’”

Hoppel is also a member Mill Stream staff, and plans to attend college as a creative-writing major.

“Writing for the Mill Stream has been an awesome experience,” Hoppel says. “I love telling stories about the interesting things NHS students and teachers get involved in. Once, I held a biology teacher’s pet scorpion so my friend Morgan could snap a photo of it for our feature story. How many people can say they’ve done that? Journalism takes you on so many cool adventures.”Maggie Hoppel

This fall Hoppel will attend IUPUI as an English major with a creative-writing focus, and is considering a second major in journalism.

“Receiving the Scholastic scholarship will allow me to study abroad in the future, which has always been a must for my college experience,” Hoppel says. “There’s a big world out there to explore and write about, and I want to see it all.”

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