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AHS student wins national writing contest

AHS senior Ainsley Feeney wins national writing contest
Posted on 01/13/2021
If there’s one thing Arlington High School Theatre Director Cynthia Wieland has learned about her student Ainsley Feeney, it’s that you can’t typecast her writing style. In Introduction to Theatre, students are required to write a daily short story or play using a random prompt, and with Ainsley, you never really know what you’re going to get.

“Ainsley’s writing is always varied,” Wieland said. “Sometimes it’s serious and dramatic and has thematic undertones that are sobering and intense. But other times it couldn’t be more opposite by being light, comedic and sarcastic. I’m always excited to see what she comes up with.”

Ainsley describes her writing process in one of two ways: either she’s very methodical and visualizes every tiny detail or she free styles it, laying to paper the first thing that comes to mind. Interestingly, it’s that free-styled approach that recently won her a national writing contest.

Last semester, The English-Speaking Union sponsored a national contest that had entrants write short stories using different prompts that drew on themes from the 1818 novel Frankenstein. Ainsley submitted four.

“The prompt that won was actually the one that I didn’t really think stood a chance of winning,” Ainsley laughed. “I had to write a gothic short story, so I just wrote something that was so silly and made me laugh. I was like, ‘I’ll just submit it to see what happens.’”

Ainsley’s winning piece – a story about ghost seeking retribution from a tormented man – drew praise from The English-Speaking Union for its surprising narrative twist.

“We were delighted with your humor and sense of timing, but we were especially impressed that someone so young would recognize the opportunity for comedy in tragedy,” the organization said. “You are a truly talented writer and we fully expect to see your name on the New York Times Best Seller list someday if writing is your chosen field.”

In addition to being published on the organization’s website, Ainsley also received $100, which she plans to put towards college. “Frankenstein is one of my favorite novels,” Ainsley said, “and my story drew from the same irony-filled themes you’d read in the novel. It’s good to sometimes make light out of serious situations, and for my take on this classic to win, I’m just incredibly grateful.”

Ainsley, who will graduate this May, plans to major in political science and later become a human rights lawyer. You can read her winning piece by clicking here.