A student from Mark Rutherford School has become the first in its history to receive a Gold Award in an international essay writing competition run by the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS).
14-year-old Ben Coblenz, a Year 10 student at the school, was among ten pupils who received awards in the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay competition run by the RCS.
Seven Mark Rutherford students successfully secured a Bronze Award and a further two students achieved a Silver Award after writing on the topic of ‘Climate Action and the Commonwealth’.
Over 13,000 young people from across the Commonwealth entered the competition, which has a rich history of promoting literacy, expression and creativity by celebrating the excellence and imagination of young people.
The final judging decision was made by an expert panel of authors, journalists and poets, which included the Alex Rider author, Anthony Horowitz; written word poet Suli Breaks; journalist Matthew Parris; novelist Wendy Holden; award-winning young adult author Zalika Reid-Benta; and the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize winner and poet, Sia Figiel.
Gold Award-winner, Ben, said: “I was shocked to be one of those chosen for gold from so many good entries, but I am very happy and extremely proud at the same time.”
Speaking to the RCS on his judging experience, Anthony Horowitz said: “I was struck by the extraordinary variety, the high quality of the writing…
“There was a sense that these young writers, inspired by Greta Thunberg, are not only aware of the global challenges that they face but are more prepared to tackle them than my own generation.
“With everything that 2020 has thrown at us, it’s hard to be forward-looking and positive. The joy of these essays was that so many of them were.”
The international schools’ writing contest used the theme of ‘Climate Action and the Commonwealth’ to encourage students to consider how they can work to use cultural, technological and environmental connections for positive change across the Commonwealth.
Topics invited young people to consider the potential of the Commonwealth in strengthening the vast and varied links between citizens through inspiring poems, essays and narratives.