Students excel in first whole school Scholars’ competition

If you were asked to write a poem, where would you start? Probably not by looking up the word ‘poem’ in the dictionary, but that’s exactly what budding bards at Harrogate Grammar School were challenged to do.

Scholars’ Coordinator, Dr Compton, challenged HGS students from Year 7 to Year 13 to write a ‘found poem’ using only text from a page of the Oxford Schools Dictionary – P for ‘poem’, naturally. Students could choose to cut up and reassemble the page, black out words, or write their poem out but, crucially, they could not add anything that was not ‘found’ on the original page.

There were over 50 exceptional entries, many of which were visual works of art as well as great poems. The competition was judged by Dr Nasser Hussain, published poet and Lecturer in Creative Writing at Leeds Beckett University. Dr Hussain was impressed by the quality of the students work. He said: ‘Judging this competition was a difficult task, and for all the right reasons. The students at Harrogate Grammar are sharp-eyed, literate, and creative practitioners, and have clearly learned and applied some advanced techniques. The future of avant-garde writing is in good hands. I’m honoured to have had the chance to read their work, and congratulations to all of the participants.’

Students’ year groups were removed from the entries, so all poets were judged to the same high standard. 10 students; Imogen Clawson, Mariella Ploix, Holly Brayshay, Sophie Watts, Oscar Dunn, Lucy Kilner, Harriet Longley, Hannah Rowe, Caitlin Daly and Amelie Davies from year 7 to 13, were shortlisted and each received a coveted ‘Scholars’ badge. Our overall winner, Hannah Rowe (year 11), also received a small prize to inspire her future writing career.

Dr Compton said: “As strange as it may sound, restrictions make us more creative. The more we challenge ourselves, and the more we enjoy and seek out challenge, the stronger and faster our cognitive function becomes. Essentially, intellectual struggle makes us smarter. That’s why we will be giving our students more opportunities to take part in challenges like this one as part of a whole school Scholars’ Programme.”

This competition is the first in a series of Scholars’ Challenges at Harrogate Grammar School designed to test students’ creative thinking.

Front row, left to right: Dr Compton, Hannah Rowe, Mariella Ploix, Holly Brayshay, Lucy Kilner, Sophie Watts
Back row, left to right: Amelie Davies, Caitlin Daly, Oscar Dunn, Dr Hussain, Harriet Longley, Mrs Smith

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