Among thousands of students from all over the world, Rumson Country Day School eighth grader Chloe Melconian was selected as a finalist for the New York Times personal narrative contest with her entry “The Last Piece.” This fall, the New York Times invited teenagers, ages 13-19, to write memoirs about meaningful moments in their lives. The catch? Students were challenged to do so in just 100 words. Entries to the international contest totaled 12,448 and judges selected only 82 finalists.
“I love to write,” said thirteen-year-old Chloe. “It makes me feel better. Obviously, there are some limits, but you could write about almost anything and that is like an outlet for me.”
Chloe entered the contest to complete a narrative assignment by her teacher in her Language Arts Honors class at RCDS.
“My goal is to prepare my students to be confident communicators,” said RCDS Language Arts Teacher Carolyn Mulholland. I want them to be able to use their vocabulary, grammar, and writing skills in a mature manner. I want my students to have complete self confidence in their communication skills so they are more than comfortable navigating the high school English classroom."
Mrs. Mulholland gives her students daily writing prompts because she believes the more a student writes, the better writer they become. The activities range from creative, narrative, and expository writing with public speaking exercises being intertwined throughout. By this time in the school year, she says, her students are undaunted by the challenges.
“She’s an amazing teacher,” said Chloe of Mrs. Mulholland. “Usually writing something in only 100 words, especially a heartfelt topic that's going to be graded, would be really hard and I would imagine being really stressful. But she [Mrs. Mulholland] spaced it out and broke it down so that the process was fun.”
RCDS educators are known for tailoring their approach to each student's strengths, needs, and potential. By doing so they instill a love of learning and confidence in their students – a foundation that Chloe has benefited from.
“I'm so proud of her,” said Mrs. Mulholland. “Through the power of words, Chloe combined everything that RCDS stands for – compassion, kindness, intelligence, humility. Her writing represents her beautiful soul.”
Chloe plans to pursue her passion for writing in high school by joining clubs or school newspapers that are available to students. In the meantime, she continues to grow under the guidance of her teachers at RCDS and enjoys putting pen to paper in her free time.
You can read Chloe’s submission to the New York Times 100-Word Personal Narrative Contest below.
The Last Piece
by Chloe Melconian
Texting him was my way of not letting go, of holding onto those carefree little kids we once were. As I pressed send my heart dropped, realizing the last piece I had of him was gone. The green bubble on the phone screen blurred while tears filled my eyes. My hands shaking, questions running through my head. His number was no longer in service. My texts were going nowhere and I knew it. The world went quiet, and nothing else mattered anymore. He was gone. My cousin, my best friend, Haig. Finally, cancer free.
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