As well as turning out some of the Borders’ finest young actors and musicians, Earlston High School can now boast some serious writing talent.
The school’s creative writers group has notched up notable successes this year, including recent S6 pupil Stuart Munro, who travelled to Glasgow last month, where at a glittering event at the city’s Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, he was commended in the prestigious Scottish Schools’ Young Writer of the Year competition.
It means Stuart was deemed to be one of the top 16 young writers in Scotland and had to fight off stiff competition from more than 200 other entrants to secure a place on the shortlist at the inaugural awards ceremony.
Stuart told The Southern he regarded it as an honour to be recognised for the quality of his writing: “I think the quality of the writing in the competition really proves that young people are brilliant writers and don’t just write in text language!
“My advice to other writers is – don’t limit yourself. Write about what you really want to write about.”
And English teacher Laura McDougal added: “I was delighted that Stuart received the recognition he deserved.
“His bold non-fiction article, ‘Books, not Blockbusters’, was articulate and stylish and will now be published in the Scottish Review – one of the country’s most eminent literary publications – a very fitting award for an eminent young writer.”
A select group from Earlston High School’s creative writing group also took part in the inaugural Young Walter Scott Prize workshop at the famous author’s Abbotsford home last month and found themselves featured on television news coverage of the 2015 Brewin Dolphin Borders Book Festival in Melrose.
Some pupils then attended the book festival on the Saturday of the popular event and enjoyed a taste of the literary big time when they were invited to read excerpts from their work to an appreciative audience.
Another of the English department’s stars was recent sixth-former Archie Kidd, who scooped the school’s annual literacy award.
The Southern Reporter was proud to sponsor this particular award for the first time and a delighted Archie told us: “I was really surprised to win the Literacy Award – surprised but really pleased.
“I’ve always enjoyed reading and can see its importance, both for school and simply for enjoyment.
“I would advise anyone, young or old, to read anything at all. I’m equally happy reading Joseph Conrad and Captain Underpants!”
Archie now has a place at Moray House teacher training school and will continue to fly the flag for the improvement of literacy skills once he completes his own training as a new secondary school teacher.
Commenting on Archie’s award, Ms McDougal told The Southern this week: “Archie won the prize as an outstanding ambassador for literacy and someone who excelled in promoting and supporting others to improve their own literacy skills across the school through his work as a Leader of Literacy.
“It is important to celebrate literacy across the whole school and Archie really was an outstanding ambassador and incredibly successful.”