Two middle school students – one in BVSD, the other in Longmont – write an award-winning piece

A Longmont middle school student teamed up with a Boulder Valley School District middle school student and produced an award-winning play that will be performed next month.

Sarah Zhou from Summit Middle School and Elyse Prestopnik from Flagstaff Academy Charter School co-wrote and won a piece called “The New Kids” for a nationwide writing competition. The piece will be performed on June 25th at the House of Cellista, 734 Gay St., Longmont. All residents are welcome to the exhibition and no fee is charged. House of Cellista will have a tip glass available for those who wish to donate, and proceeds will go to the performing artists.

Flagstaff Academy’s sixth grader Elyse Prestopnik, 12, stands for a portrait in front of her school on Tuesday. Prestopnik and Summit Middle School sixth grader Sarah Zhou wrote an award-winning piece together. (Matthew Jonas / employee photographer)

“It’s just amazing and amazing that we won, I never expected that, but I think our passion for collaboration and writing helped us win,” said Prestopnik.

Zhou said, “I think it was our friendship and ability to separate ideas that helped us make such a good game.”

Prestopnik’s teacher Terri Reh introduced her during a creative writing class at the Denver Center for performing arts director David Saphier. Saphier, who is also a writer and artist, taught a playwright workshop for Flagstaff Academy students and invited middle school students to submit a play in one act to an annual competition at the Center for the Performing Arts.

This is the first time the DCPA AT&T Playwrighting competition has been open to middle school students. Out of hundreds of submissions from across Colorado, Lifelong Best Friends were one of three middle school students to win the competition.

Flagstaff Academy spokeswoman Lisa Trank-Greene said, “What these young ladies did was pretty amazing because they had been best friends since preschool and were still able to rely on very meaningful ones even during the coronavirus pandemic Way to connect. “

Despite being in different schools, the duo said they knew they wanted to work on this project together and would love to work together on future projects.

“It was a good test of friendship and creativity,” said Prestopnik. “Sarah made fun of Elmer with her ideas and made me laugh a lot.”

Zhou added, “But it was also a way to deepen our friendship because we learned more about ourselves and each other during the process.”

“The New Kids” is about a sister, Evelyn, and a brother, Elmer, who were enrolled in a new middle school and who are navigating a new beginning at a new school together and making new friends.

“I never had to start a new school, so it was difficult for me to identify myself at times, but I made friends with people who moved to my school,” explained Prestopnik.

“We thought it would be challenging and fun to write about something that neither of us had ever experienced before because we didn’t have any siblings or the new kids were in school,” said Zhou.

The hardest part of the process was coordinating times of collaboration with full middle school timetables, after-school activities, and pandemic restrictions.

“It was not linear or clear at times because I had to go to this or that one day and Sarah was free, but the next day we had opposing schedules so it was sometimes frustrating not to always be able to find one Establish connection when we had to or wanted to, ”said Prestopnik.

“Yes, it was a lot of writer’s block for me, but also planning,” added Zhou. “However, through electronics and e-mail we managed to get everything together better than we imagined.”

The girls had some advice for aspiring writers: “Don’t limit yourself because you don’t know what you are capable of until you actually start,” said Prestopnik.

Zhou added, “Push yourself beyond your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to do something you are unfamiliar with.”

Regarding her future, Prestopnik said, “Right now I think I want to be a writer, but I’m only 12 years old, so I have time to find out.”

Zhou said, “I don’t know what I want to be yet. Today it’s an astronaut, and tomorrow it could be a dancer, but I also think I have time to find out, but I wouldn’t mind writing any more. “

The best thing about the piece, according to both girls, was working on a meaningful project together.

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