The inaugural ‘Write to Life’ competition student winners have been praised by judges for the high quality and diverse range of entries that focused on racism, refugees, drug abuse and the value of families.
The competition for schools in the Archdiocese of Sydney offered students three sections – Primary, Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary in four categories, Film, Art, Junior Secondary Writing and Senior Secondary Writing.
The competition was the focal point of the Catholic Education Office’s first annual ‘Life Week’ from 7-11 September.
“The main reason for holding the Write to Life Competition was that we wanted to celebrate the value of human life, the dignity of family life and to affirm that our young people do carry a great value for life,” said the Catholic Education Office’s Michael Reid at the awards ceremony.
Junior Secondary Writing winner, Joseph Fabrello and Romeo Lim, Year 7 at Marist Catholic College Penshurst, submitted a co-authored poem after deciding that drug abuse was “a strong topic” to address on the theme of the value of life.
Students who entered the Secondary Writing competition wrote essays, poetry, and prose – both fiction and non-fiction based on the words of Pope Francis: “Things have a price and can be for sale, but people have a dignity that is priceless and worth far more than things.” (Rome, September 2013).
“We are trying to say that drugs demoralise human life and make you feel like your life isn’t worth living – but in true fact we need to value lives more,” said Joseph.
Rosa Do in Year 10 at Casimir Catholic College Marrickville wrote an essay on racism and won the Senior Secondary Writing section.
“I am Australian because I was born here, but some people have this perception that they think I’m from another country, so it kind of hits home to me,”
“I just wanted people to know that racism does hurt – and it’s an issue that can be associated with the church’s teachings and values because sometimes people forget that racism is equivalent to homelessness and poverty – it’s emotional hurt,” she said.
Three Year 8 Bethlehem College girls said their winning entry in the short film section was about refugees and took them about two months to make.
This category asked students to make a short film of up to seven minutes on “Life on Film” about a real person or a fictional story whose life represents an affirmation of human life. Students were given the words of Jesus in John’s Gospel, “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full”, as their inspiration point.
Maria Manos, Jessica Pierce and Cindy Robson chose Maya Angelou’s poem ‘Caged Bird’ as the theme of their film.
Angelou’s struggles against racism and disadvantage motivated them to think about the plight of refugees.
Changing hearts towards the homeless was Primary Writing winner, Jacinta Pham’s main goal in her essay. The Year 6 student at St Christopher’s Catholic Primary School Panania said she wanted to make people more aware of homelessness.
“It’s about giving them food and special supplies, caring for others, that’s basically it,” said Jacinta.
The Primary Art competition was based on the theme of the Pope’s Synod on the Family and called “The Gospel of Family Life”.
Winner, Coeli Galang, Year 4 at St Michaels Catholic Primary School Meadowbank said her painting of a tree showed that a tree is strong – “and that’s how a family should be in tough times”.
“Taking care of each other is important,” said Coeli.
Michael Reid said that through the example of our families, we learn to love each other, we learn to value each other and we learn to form relationships that affirm ourselves and other people.
There were diverse submissions of digital media, photographs, pastels and paintings.
“We were very impressed with the range and quality of work… the quality was far greater than expected –,” he said.
Winners received certificates and an iPad, except Film winners who won Go-Pro cameras.
Mr Reid said that the competition is in its first year and it’s hoped it will grow.