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Whiz Kids: Nora Henrie and Sarah Manning

These two sophomores from Convent of The Sacred Heart took home three Gold Key awards for writing last month.

A total of 10 students from in Greenwich won Gold Key Medals in the 2011 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, two of which are Stamford residents.

Sophomores Nora Henrie and Sarah Manning took home three awards in total, out of 12,000 works of art and writing submitted. Patch spoke with Henrie and Manning about their awards, what inspired them to create their works and what they see ahead in their future.

Patch: Congratulations on your Gold Key awards, ladies! How do you feel? Can you describe the projects you did that won the awards?

Manning: It is a really nice feeling to know that people I do not know read and liked my writing so much. The poem that was awarded a Gold Key is written from the point of view of a child sitting up in an apple tree and imagining that she is the ruler of the land around her. I added a little twist at the end to make it interesting. I was pleasantly surprised when I heard that the poem that won was my only rhyming poem, as I do not usually write in that style.

Henrie: Thank you! I am not really sure how I feel about it. Definitely nervous, because I am not sure how far my pieces will advance. I am excited to have gotten this far and am pretty surprised. I am my biggest critic, and I honestly did not think my pieces were up to par. Overall, I feel overwhelmed. I had two projects that earned Gold Keys. One was a short story called Flicker, which I suppose you can call a coming of age story. I also had two poems, which were submitted together, entitled Wanted and Poetry.

Patch: Was this your first time participating in the contest? What was the experience like?

Manning: Yes, this was my first time submitting my writing. The actual writing of the poem was fun because I literally climbed up in a tree to write it, but sending it off to be judged was nervewracking.

Henrie: No, I also submitted a piece when I was in eighth grade, which did fairly well. This experience was different because they have since moved almost everything online. Before, it was all done by mail. As for the actual process, I am a notorious procrastinator, so I left everything till the last second. I spent the week before the deadline harassing my poor English teacher for edits. Honestly, the only reason everything was finished was because the day of the deadline was a snow day. I delivered the submission forms to the post office five minutes before it closed.

Patch: What are your favorite subjects or classes in school and why?

Manning: English Literature has always been my favorite subject because I absolutely love to read and find "unpacking the meaning," as my teacher would say. I also like Chemistry and find the concepts that we learn and explanation of natural occurrences very interesting. My teachers in both of these classes are amazing, so it is an added bonus to two very intriguing subjects!

Henrie: My favorite subjects are English and Art. English, this year, has been difficult for me because we have been focusing on analytical writing, which is not exactly my forte, but I enjoy pushing myself. Art class is just a nice respite in the day. It’s nice to explore in a creative way.

Patch: You are just a few years away from graduation. Do you have any specific plans for afterward? What do you aspire to become?

Manning: I have such a wide variety of interests that I have yet to focus on one occupation in the future. Of course I still have time to decide, but I know that I want to do something exciting and that I want to be able to travel, see new places and experience other cultures. This does not necessarily have to be associated with a career, but I would like to do so at some point in my life.

Henrie: Oh, that is so difficult. I do not really have any specific plans to be honest, but would love to do something with writing. Whatever I do, I want to be able to make a difference.

Patch: What do you like to do in your spare time?

Manning: In my spare time I like to write poetry, read and take part in clubs at school. I dedicate a lot of my time to clubs at Sacred Heart, such as yearbook and our literary magazine, and am also involved in the Model UN and community service clubs. Outside of school I like to go running in my spare time and aspire to one day run a marathon. In addition I practice karate and will be testing for my second degree black belt in April.

Henrie: I am not athletically inclined, but in freshman year, I got involved in my school’s speech team. It is interesting and very fun.

Patch: Who would you say is most influential in your life?

Manning: My parents are the two people who I admire the most without question. I have many siblings and we are all multiples. My parents have always supported each of us in all of our endeavors and do everything in their power to help us succeed, while also giving us the freedom to make our own decisions and learn from our mistakes. I have never felt limited in any circumstance nor compared to my other siblings because my parents make a point of recognizing each of us as the individuals we are.

Henrie: There are so many people I know and admire that if I were to list them, it would sound like an Oscars speech. I admire different aspects of all my family, friends and others, and I would hate to forget anyone. As for people I do not know, I am a huge Harry Potter fan, so JK Rowling. In addition, I am also a big Amelia Earhart fan. Both these women strike me as powerful and influential.

Patch: You both attend school in Greenwich but live in Stamford. What are some of your favorite places to hang out while you're at home?

Manning: The place I am at most frequently in Stamford is The Dojo on Long Ridge Road. I have been attending the Dojo for almost nine years now and it has become a second home to me. Apart from karate, I spend time with friends traveling between the , and the movie theater (either the or theaters). Target and are our must-visit stores.

Henrie: I love going to the beach. I live right near it and it is a privilege I have always appreciated.

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