Oak Lawn Community High School senior Tae Smoczynski received an Honorable Mention in the 2022 New York Times 100 Word Personal Narrative Contest. An assignment requirement in Creative Writing, Tae submitted their essay “Not the News I was Expecting” and learned that it received an Honorable Mention out of 12,448 submissions from around the world. Teen writers were asked to share an intriguing true story from their life in 100 words. Stories were ordinary and extraordinary, big and small. When asked about how they felt about the recognition, Tae said, “The Creative Writing classroom environment inspires and encourages writers to be creative and embrace their ideas. This vibe made it easier to write about something so deep and traumatic to me. To be met by encouragement by my peers and friends to pursue my craft is such a comforting feeling, and I have Mrs. Jepsen to thank for nurturing this environment.”
Jeff Vazzana, English Department Chair, adds, “OLCHS is incredibly proud of Tae and their remarkable accomplishment. This is a testament to not only Tae’s hard work and dedication, but also to the exceptional teaching and guidance provided by Mrs. Jepsen. Mrs. Jespen has been a teacher at Oak Lawn Community High School for 17 years and in that time has consistently demonstrated a passion for all of her classes, but especially creative writing. She has a passion and commitment to help her students succeed. Her dedication to her students’ craft has not gone unnoticed, and we are thrilled to see her efforts recognized through Tae’s achievement. We extend a heartfelt congratulations to Tae and Mrs. Jepsen on this wonderful accomplishment!”
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