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Junior Writing Competition

Suzanne Robins —

Some clever young writers entered some amazing poetry, creative and formal writings this year.

Winners were as follows.


1st - Alice Bickerstaff "The beach", 

2nd - Sara Balogh "Come Winter", 

3rd - Sophie Bradfield "Fresh Meat", 

Highly Commended - Darcy Monteath "White",  and Megan Macdiarmid "The Return of the Tide"

Formal Writing: 

1st - Athena Nguyen on Social Media, 

2nd - Cindy Chou on The Merchant of Venice; Tragedy or Comedy?

3rd - Liam Scaife on Social Media, 

Highly Commended - Jayden Jesudhass on Social Media

Creative Prose: 

1st - Darcy Monteath "Overcoming Grief",  

2nd - Melicen Barber "Irresponsible Beach Children", 

3rd Equal - Amalya Hohmann-Marriott "Marbles" and Megan Macdiarmid "The Perfect Shot", 

Highly Commended - Nico Alvarez "The Warm Evenings"

Read on for the complete poems, formal and creative writings:


The Beach by Alice Bickerstaff

The beach

blanketed with fog

is still


the almost silence

is broken


The muffled crash

of waves


the caw of seagulls

Wheeling through veils

of mist

Soft dew

wreaths the


Drifts in

And out

between figures


and indistinct


from an instant

camera not

yet fully



and shadowy

until the sun

Breaks through

the grey damp

spearing the sand


bright early

morning light

rays of light


on a

sparkling ocean

and blue sky

glimpses of fresh

cut gems

Peeking through

a shroud


fading fog

Come Winter By Sara Balogh

Hours later the first snow fell

Covering birch and pines with armour

And the icy water set stiff on the fields

And cracked as the night grew darker.

My homeland frozen, heavy and still

Mountains covered, dusty and pale

The clouds in the sky, as thin as old silk

Fading the sun, over the hills.

The stars were staring, eyes open wide

Like thousands of beads, worn by the sky.

The ripped blanket, now ironed and clean

invited winter “come in, come in.”

Fresh Meat, by Sophie Bradfield

All I was doing was walking

First year of intermediate

In my uniform, kilt and sweater

My polo collar peeking out

White ankle socks pulled high

Leather shoes shining

I was going to meet my father after school

My father

After school

What grown man, no matter how far they are

into the thick of testosterone and university stress


That and 11 year old girl will do his car window bidding?

Leering at a red light stop


“Lift your skirt cutie!”

What, so you can see my boney knees

Blotchy from the autumn chill

A prepubescent girl, barely in a training bra

And I am already a sexual object

To call out at


I cried when I got in the car

I cried as I told my father

I cried as we drove home

This was only something in TV shows

To older women in short skirts

But now I memorise your number plate

And the pattern of your shirt

And I walk with purpose and a deliberate scowl

While you walk with a wandering eye and loose lips

The Return of the Tide, by Megan Macdiarmid

Remember when the sand crinkled between our toes

When the water blurred the line between land and sea

And chased us up the beach – so different from the thundering waves

These cheerful mischievous splashes

Making the denim of your cutoffs dark

And the smile return to the corners of your eyes

Remember when we sat, panting and laughing

Salt around our eyes and sand in our hair

You wearing that ridiculous hat you wore

Remember the one? With the flowers?

Chasing that same hat along the beach when the breeze stole it

Just because of the look on your face as it flew

And returning, triumphant,

To place it on your head

And see the smile return to the corners of your eyes

Remember when we stopped for ice-cream on the drive home

Smirking at each other’s milky moustaches

Sharing licks with the dog when you thought I wasn’t looking

And me knowing, and loving every moment

And as we contemplated the flakes of our ‘99s

That smile returned to the corners of your eyes

I haven’t got long left, my darling

The last ocean I saw was the IV line

So please, if you’re here with me now, my daughter

Show me that smile one last time

Formal Writing

Social media causes teenagers to worry too much. - Athena Nguyen


Sometimes I wonder if this is truly the generation I’m living in. I’m stuck, stuck in the time when the amount of likes you receive distinguishes your worth, stuck in the generation where it’s fine to tell someone to kill themselves, where appearance is more important than the qualities that can’t be seen with naked eyes, where drugs are no longer the incurable addiction. No, it’s not okay, yet people could never understand, how social media has such a negative impact on teens, how it concerns us too much.

“It gives us valuable knowledge”,“It brings us together”,“It makes us smile”, but if social media was all about happiness, I wouldn’t so strongly agree that social media causes teennagers to worry too much. In fact, the more I scroll down, the more mean comments are left in the comments section, while all the “you are awesome” and “this is beautiful” are floating sadly in the sea of hatred. It’s unimaginable e how spiteful spiteful people could be. I mean, how could you say “This world is full of emotionally weak people”, how could you say “Just take control of your thoughts”, how could you? People like this are the reasons why today’s teens are feeling more anxious than ever, and in fact, more than 1 in 20 US teenagers have to deal with depression and anxiety. While teens are expected to be making daisy chains under the wan sunlight, or hanging out with friends on the cloudy days, or texting friends and giggling as they read the hilarious messages, teens nowadays are growing up without even truly experiencing it, as we are grow up seeing the cruel truth of society. The truth that life isn’t all about happiness, the truth that people constantly judge you by what they see through the screen, the truth that no matter how hard you try, there would always be a person looking for your flaws. Social media and anxiety have such a strong connection that sometimes I wish I could stop using it. As it’s clearly shown on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat,etc.. people are “obsessed” with proving the world that they have a life, from going for a walk to having dinner in a fancy restaurant, every posts you see can easily make you jealous, because that’s the perfect life, the life that you see in your dreams. Teens tend to do what’s trendy, and the result is we slowly become obsessed with checking social media everyday, checking if someone had tagged us in a post, checking if we lost any follower, checking if our pictures had any comment. And once our “worst nightmares” appear, it would start as overthinking and end with “anxiety”. And as a person who literally overthink every day because of social media, you can never be sure of where your thoughts will lead you.

Yes, I acknowledge that social media is an amazing way to connect to people, whether they are your families or your long-lost friends, but just in case you don’t know or can’t remember what’s so special about high school, let me remind you a little bit. Drama. You read it right, and as a “rule”, drama always starts with rumors, and guess what would help some pathetic students to spread some rumors? Social media. People text this and text that, and in the end, all the words would be twisted. Promises will be broken, best friends will be gone, basically, anything could happen when there is a rumor. And when it’s no longer a concern, it will become an obsession, the thoughts that kill you, the words that stab you in the heart. You know that feeling when you’re finally comfortable enough to open up to the person that you thought will be by your side to the rest of your life, and turns out you’ve been used the whole time? It happens to any of us teenagers when we try to normally text our friends. All just because of that small rumor, people exposing other, ex-bestie hinting who lied, strangers starting drama, etc. And like i said before, the mind is a powerful thing, the thing that would take control without you even noticing it.

Obsession. I’m not going to lie, from my best knowledge, we teens are terribly obsessed with social media. In fact, we couldn’t bare not posting our stories, tweeting our problems, for 5 minutes. Honestly, teenagers, including me, experience the present as an anticipated memory, and it’s not good. Teens are becoming more and more anti-social each day, spending all the time we have on our phones or computers, then regret it, but will do it again without any hesitation tomorrow. Slowly, a circle will be formed, and keep in mind, there is no beginning and no end in a circle. Seriously, we don’t even realise that we’re spending too much online, we don’t realise that we’re pushing our own families away, we’re losing our chances to have a bright future, we don’t even realise that we’re addicted to social media. The thing is, you don’t know what you’re going to see on social media, and for immature teens, it could be a huge problems. I’ve seen people making jokes of mental illness, people being racists, sexists to others, people influencing kids, teenagers with bad intentions. There is a meaningful quote i know “In youth you learn, in age you understand” and it’s just so beautiful. Teens like me, we always think what we’re doing is right, we think that our parents don’t allow us to use our phone 24/7 because they hate us, but no one knows that they’re protecting us from the bad, protecting us from the negativity, protecting us from the awful obsession.

To be honest, just like any other teen out there, I haven’t found an effective way to reduce all the time I waste on social media, or even found a way to use it without fearing that I will be judged by the “cool” kids, without having to deal with all the messages that I know would cause drama whether I choose to reply or not. I’m scared. And stuck, too. Even though I can’t fully get out, at least I’m trying my best to focus on positive things , focus on my family, my dreams, my future. But if you ask me that question again, I’m sorry but I would still say: “Yes, it’s true. Social media causes teenagers to worry too much.”

Social media causes teenagers to worry too much - Jayden Jesudhass

The human race, has changed so much in these past few decades. From music genres, to fashion, and even interior design, it seems as if we are progressing towards a better future. However, there is one very controversial aspect. That is, social media.

Some Say, social media is very good for this generation, some say otherwise. In my opinion, teenagers are missing out on important characteristics that is a part of their mental wellbeing. An example of this, is social interaction. Studies show, since the year 1987, when electronic media was not that popular, social interaction for teenagers was an average of 8 hours per day, with only 2 hours a day using electronic media. But then, in the year 2007, the statistics have drastically changed resulting in 9 hours per day of media usage, and only 2 hours per day of social interaction.

Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair (PhD in Pediatric Clinical Psychology) writes:

“As a species, we are so attuned to reading social cues. By teenagers being introduced to social media, they are missing out on very important social features.”

How does this relate to teenagers worrying too much? By teenagers using too much social media, they can develope problems. Some of these problems include, depression and anxiety, false paranoia, cyber bullying, and many more. This then can lead to teenagers being distracted from daily tasks and responsibilities, which can cause a lot of worrying.

But since there are ‘con’s’, there are also pro’s’. Some benefits of social media include, spreading helpful information, being used as an inspirational platform, and one more that I can personally relate to, reaching family that lives outside of New Zealand. My Grandma lives in Vietnam, and I can use Facebook Messenger to connect with her.

So is social media causing teenagers to worry too much? In my opinion yes, in some aspects and circumstances, but if used in a respectful manner social media can be a helpful and inspirational too