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Students honored at state literary meet
Gabrielle Diaz

Georgia Literary Meet winners

Flowery Branch High School (Class AAAAA)

First place: Genevieve Leopold, Megan Prichard and Madison Faile, Girls Trio
Fifth place: Layne MacPherson, Logan Shook, Jacob Bryant and Ethan Pilcher, Boys Quartet

Chestatee High School (Class AAAA)

First place: James Thomas, Boys Dramatic Interpretation
Second place: Parker Ramey, Boys Essay
Fourth place: Madison Mayfield, Girls Extemporaneous Speaking

West Hall High School (Class AAA)

Second place: Savannah Smith, Girls Dramatic Interpretation
Fourth place: Anthony Abrise, Boys Essay

Gainesville High School (Class AAAAA)

First place: Gabrielle Diaz, Girls Essay

Lakeview Academy (Class A — private schools)

First place: Eli Bennett, Boys Dramatic Interpretation
Kelly Holt Harrison, Girls Dramatic Interpretation
Second place: Eli Bennett, Christian Reinhardt, Shan Suen and Benjamin Walton, Boys Quartet

Source: Georgia High School Association

Seven students have earned top honors at the Georgia Literary Meet.

Held March 15, the Georgia High School Association event judges students in theater, writing and musical events, including dramatic interpretation, written essay and extemporaneous singing. Participants are invited to compete at the state level after successfully competing at the regional level.

Flowery Branch High School

Megan Prichard, Madison Faile and Genevieve Leopold have been singing together since middle school. At the state literary meet, a dream for all three was achieved as they took the top spot in Class AAAAA.

“We had all expected it to be really hard competition and be going up against a lot of really good people,” Prichard said about the previous regional competition. “When we got there, everyone was really good, but we knew that we performed our best.”

The three seniors were elated to win the regional competition, and instantly began preparing for state.

“This was kind of a big deal for us because of us being together for so long,” Faile said. “We all love it so much. We’re all really competitive and we’re really close, so it was a big deal for us to go.”

“The competition was pretty tough,” Leopold said. “We were happy with our performance, but you can never know what the judges were thinking.”

The trio is the second group from the school to win the spot.

“Coaching these students was very rewarding,” coach Stacie Mavis said. “While I admire their talent, I admire most their level of determination and drive for personal excellence.

“I am incredibly proud of how well they used their time, juggling work, school and extracurricular activities,” she added. “They are amazing role models for their peers.”

Chestatee High School

James Thomas was nervous going into the competition, knowing other students competing in the years before him had always placed highly.

“Last year, I was the alternate for Dramatic Interpretation,” he said. “And this was our fourth year sending someone to state and winning, so there was a lot of pressure.”

Thomas, a senior, placed first in Class AAAA Boys Dramatic Interpretation. He plans to attend the University of North Georgia and pursue a career in theater.

“I was really surprised,” he said. “When you go to the region level, the people you compete against, they were all very friendly. And when you go to state, I was expecting like cutthroat (competition). But they were all still really friendly, and they were all really, really good.

“I was completely speechless,” Thomas said about winning.

Gainesville High School

Gabrielle Diaz placed first in the Class AAAAA Girls Essay component of the literary meet, taking the title in her first trip to the competition.

She wrote 600 words in two hours, choosing from three literary topics and three current events topics to write the essay.

“My essay, the question was ‘What is the most significant challenge facing President Obama in 2014?’” Diaz said. “I said that in 2014, President Obama faces the challenge of maintaining a positive public image while still facing all of the problems that he’s going to, and making decisions based upon his own moral agenda.”

The Gainesville High senior is deciding between multiple colleges, including Yale and Columbia universities, to attend next year.

“I was very excited,” Diaz said after winning. “I was very happy, especially because it was the first time I did it and I wasn’t really sure what the state level was like. I was just going to go in there and write the best essay I could, and I was very surprised.”

Lakeview Academy

Senior Kelly Holt Harrison was ill for her part in the competition.

“Do you ever get those frogs in your throat, where it’s just really itchy and you have to cough?” she asked. “I had to cough the entire time I was doing it. So that put extra nerves on top of the whole thing.”

Cough or not, Harrison went on the win the top spot in Girls Dramatic Interpretation.

“It’s like having a long line just memorized,” she said. “It’s for eight minutes, so if you forget one word or you forget a movement, then you’re just messed up. You forget where you are.”

She’s no stranger to the stage, though. This was her third time in the top position.

She was joined by her fellow senior Eli Bennett, who also placed first in Class A (private schools) Boys Dramatic Interpretation, for the second year in a row.

He hopes to go on to work in the theater, but he also wants to teach.

“I want to be able to make an impact on students, like my teachers have made an impact on me,” Bennett said. “I want to be able to make a difference like that.”

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