Storytellers of Tomorrow

2022 Winners

First Place: “Seashells” by Miliana Walton, The Webb School (TN)
This illustrated short story exemplifies the interdisciplinary spirit both Ringling and the Creative Writing Program strive to achieve. The layered simplicity of a young woman’s trip to the beach and poignant conversations with some of the ocean’s most essential objects delves into the fulfillment and emptiness of brief spiritual connections.  

Second Place: “The Magician” by Fiona Lu, Hillsdale High School (CA)
From its memorable opening line to its fantastical conclusion, this short story masterfully combines magical realism with a gritty, pulp-like sensibility, reinforcing the very human need to take risks when exploring the mysteries of our world and beyond. 

Third Place: “Geidmann’s Quintessential, All-Complete Zoo” by Kylie Wang, Campolindo High School (CA)
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to go to an intergalactic zoo, this is the story to take you there. The rich, detailed descriptions lull the reader into a welcomed trance, making the surprise ending all the more powerful. 

Honorable Mentions:
(in alphabetical order)

  • “Eraser Marks” by Emma Alexander, Wantagh High School (NY)
  • “Project Memory” by Abigail Cushman, Westborough High School (MA)
  • “The Kraken” by Bailey Fouraker, Florida Virtual School (FL)
  • “Pindrops of Scarlet” by Caroline Grier, John Jay High School (NY)
  • “Holiday Barbie” by Tien Hoang, J.R. Tucker High School (VA)
  • “Sights of the Eye” by Abby Hwang, Notre Dame High School (NJ)
  • “The Library of Rejections” by Serafina Hwang, Northgate High School (CA)
  • “Angel Graves” by Skylar Maranto, Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology (VA)
  • “Self Defense” by Joey Qi, Lowell High School (CA)
  • “Misfire” by Ulyana Sharapova, Magic Castle School (Russia)
  • “The Hall of Mirrors” by Alexandra Volkova, Bergen County Academies (NJ)
  • “Untitled Document” by Daria Volkova, New Trier High School (IL)
  • “Quicksand” by Bill Yang, Germantown Friends School (PA)

First Place: “Save Face” by Madeline Chun, The Hockaday School (TX)
This chilling first-person tale plunges the protagonist into a pool of raw honesty, allowing the reader to wade side-by-side in the deep seas of complex parental relationships.  The author harnesses a rare boldness seen only in fine storytelling and surprises the reader with moments of gobsmacking detail. 

Second Place: “Writing Myanmar” by Matt Hsu, San Francisco University High School (CA)
Experimental in form, this lyrical and captivating collection of vignettes follows a young Burmese poet as he attempts to make sense of daily life in the world around him with a family who is oceans away.  

Third Place: “Lists, Brunettes, and Poptarts” by Jordan Shaevitz, Princeton High School (NJ)
Deftly weaving between second and third-person point of view, this story packs a punch in its simplicity.  The author is a minimalist in style and a powerhouse in emotion as they commission their main character to embark on a sincere yet frank quest for truth and origin. 

Honorable Mentions:
(in alphabetical order)

  • “Congratulations” by Ruby Arthur (NYC)
  • “What It Means to Be Living” by Shem Brown, The Kinkaid School (TX)
  • “Vines” by ChiaYu Chou, Shanghai SMIC Private School (China)
  • “Things She Told Me” by Anna Ferris, Fox Chapel Area High School (PA)
  • “For You Alone” by Tony Foote, Cheney High School (WA)
  • “Flight” by Sophia Hall, Holton Arms (MD)
  • “Why Birds Crash into Windows” by Natalie Hampton, Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (TX)
  • “Diet Mountain Dew” by Jenny Hu, Seven Hills School (OH)
  • “Every Room” by Miceala Morano, Haas Hall Academy at the Jones Center (AR)
  • “Mother” by Sakshi Umrotkar, Mission San Jose High School (CA)

First Place: “Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle in Quantum Mechanics” by Samantha Liu, Ridge High School (NJ)
Rhetorically rich and sophisticated in its structure, this account of the troubled relationship between two siblings brims with heart, humor, and melancholy.

Second Place: “Saturn Devouring his Child” by Jenny Hu, Seven Hills School (OH)
The author engages the senses in a way that is both beautiful and unsettling, and their deft use of allusion adds a brightness to the piece, keeping the tone serious without feeling heavy. 

Third Place: “lowercase moments” by Lucille Elliott, Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology (VA)
In language as unassuming as its title suggests, this short piece doesn’t flinch in its examination of the effects of grief on a family.

Honorable Mentions:
(in alphabetical order)

  • “stories from the street that raised me” by Emma Jade Cantrell, A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts (FL)
  • “Handiwork of a Lazy Priest” by Travis Cooper, Sequoia Choice Arizona Distance Learning (AZ)
  • “I Am From…” by Sade Copeland, Leon High School (FL)
  • “Cougar” by Avery Gendler, Interlochen Arts Academy (MI)
  • “The Buddha’s Belly” by Sophia Hall, Holton Arms (MD)
  • “The Last Indian” by Pranav Mukund, Greenhill School (TX)
  • “The Problem with Peace and Birds” by Brooke Nind, Westlake High School (CA)
  • “Daily Lives With Cognitive Biases” by Ayla Holland, Palmetto High School (FL)
  • “A Conversation with God” by Melissa Uchegbu, Alpharetta High School (GA)
  • “Middle School Feud with Time” by Sakshi Umrotkar, Mission San Jose High School (CA)


Creative Writing Program
Dr. Ryan G. Van Cleave
2700 North Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34234