Seniors recognized for essay submissions

Committee recognizes student personal essay submissions out of thousands of applicants

Finalists announcement published on local news site (photo courtesy of

Olivia Grefenstette, Opinions Editor

This past February, three LT students–Jeanne Mardegan ‘23, Sofia Garcia ‘23, and Claire Reedy ‘23–were named Depaul Blue Book finalists for the personal essays they had submitted in 2022. Thousands of students submit pieces under three genres: fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Students in their junior year go through the submission process and the Depaul committee reviews and announces finalists the following year.

LT English teacher Nicole Lombardi has helped NC students from her creative writing and AP Language and Composition classes craft, edit, and submit pieces for the past three years. She starts by assigning small creative writing prompts and concludes with a personal essay in the third quarter of junior year for students. She will then help students revise their pieces over the summer and get them ready for submission, if they so choose.

This past summer, she helped six students edit their pieces over the span of two weeks. Half of these students would go on to be finalists.

“One of my goals with my students is for them to see writing as an art they can practice throughout their lives as a way to build community, participate in events, and find their voices personally and politically,” Lombardi said. “Sending off [their] work and waiting to hear if [they] made it gives them a taste of what writers in the real world do.”

The finalist pieces this year were titled “Nine Candles” by Mardegan, “Caught in Silence” by Garcia, and “Goodbye Again” by Reedy.

Garcia’s story explored her relationship with her sister who had gotten sick a few years in the past. She details how this affected their connection and how they continue to grow from it. This is the first award Garcia has received for her writing.

“It was a nice surprise because the story was really personal to me and I wasn’t sure how other people would receive it,” Garcia said. “It was overall very rewarding and gave me confidence in my writing abilities.” 

The finalists’ essays will not be fully published in the Depaul Blue Book, but their names and the titles of their submissions will be listed. For many of these finalists, writing plays is a big part in their lives, Garcia said. She herself utilizes writing in her extracurricular activities, in her professional aspirations, and in her pastimes. 

This competition helps show students writing beyond the confines of the classroom, Lombardi said.

“When students only write for their teacher’s evaluation, it deadens the experience,” Lombardi said. “As much as we writing instructors want to make students care about their pieces, there’s nothing that compares to sharing their work outside of the classroom.”