Belmont High School seniors Caitlin Miller, Matthew Nemitz, and Rosemary Baratta were honored at the twenty-first annual Lillian F. Blacker Prizes for Excellence in Writing on Wednesday, May 16, in a ceremony in the library.
The Blacker Prizes, awarded annually by the Belmont High School English Department, are presented to students for their outstanding senior theses.
Each senior at Belmont High reads, researches, and writes a lengthy thesis paper investigating a literary topic. The thesis is a graduation requirement at the school.
Members of the English Department select the winners, who receive scholarships as prizes for their outstanding work.
At the awards ceremony, the winners read from their papers and discussed the evolution of their ideas.
• First Prize: Caitlin Miller “Making Sense Out of Nonsense: The Resolution of the Conflict Between Order and Disorder in Tom Stoppard’s Works.”
• Second Prize: Matthew Nemitz “’Truth Disappears with the Telling of It’: The Impossibility of Memory in Durrellian Narration.”
• Third Prize: Rosemary Baratta “To Row or to Float Back to Land: Human Reactions to the Wave-like Motion of Fate in the Works of the Brontës.”
Read the winning papers located on this website.
The three winners reflected on how much they learned from the process of writing the senior thesis, and their English educations in general.
“I know that I have certainly been changed by my English classes here, much for the better, and I know many of my peers would whole-heartedly agree,” said Miller.
Lindsey Rinder, director of English, presided at the event with the assistance of Belmont High School Principal Dr. Michael Harvey.
Elissa Levine, daughter of Lillian F. Blacker, presented prizes and certificates to the three outstanding student writers.
In addition to the presentations by the competition winners, a panel of seniors
discussed their topics and the senior thesis process. Jackie Ciommo, John Barber, David Crowell, and Jesse Chen told parents and students about their process, their discoveries, and their insights into their authors. Advice given to juniors included how to find authors they will enjoy, how to organize notes, and how to capture insights gained at odd moments during the day (one student advised jotting down ideas on a cell phone).
Students discussed how to create good conditions for writing at home and block out distractions.
Family and friends established these writing awards in memory of Lillian F.
Blacker, a longtime Belmont resident who was very active in community affairs, a former editor of the Belmont Citizen, and long-time director of the Harvard Medical News Office.
As part of the ceremony, Ruth Matz, Belmont resident and family friend, and Elyssa Levine gave brief reminiscences of Lillian F. Blacker.