Charlie Award honors former English teacher, offers scholarship to seniors

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Sophia Goldberg sports editor

The Charlie Award is named after a former English teacher at Beverly, Georgianna “Charlie” Atol, who was captivated by creative writing her whole career. The award was originally funded by her family’s donations to the school after her death in a car accident in 1976, but the English department has decided to continue this tribute to Atol.

“[Atol] loved creative writing and the award was named after her because her family used to donate money for years to be used as a prize,” English teacher and Charlie Award commission chair Phil Chang said. “About 10 years ago, we started paying the award out of our department funds. We wanted to continue to honor this teacher and her love of poetry.”

The annual Charlie Award allows seniors an outlet to express themselves through creative writing. Students have the opportunity to win a small prize and an award at Senior Awards Night.

For Chang, the award is for students to illustrate their passion for creative writing.

“I think the opportunity is big for seniors. What I have been trying to do is start accumulating work for their portfolio earlier on. This is a great way for seniors to showcase their abilities in creative writing, which ranges from fictional narratives to poetry to critical essays to plays or scripts,” Chang said.

Senior Tessa Rudolph learned about the Charlie Award through the post in the Daily Bulletin. She sees the opportunity as a way to share her work with the community and to reinforce her career choice.

“I’ve wanted to be a fiction writer for as long as I can remember, and the award sounds like a great opportunity to have my voice heard in the Norman community,” Rudolph said.

Chang believes that the teachers on the Charlie Award committee volunteer their time to read all of the entries because they are passionate about the work, as well as to get a glimpse into students’ writing that they otherwise do not read in formal essays.

“I generally get teachers who I feel are interested in creative writing and enjoy writing themselves. Most of the teachers do it because it is something we enjoy as well and we don’t really get an opportunity to workshop much,” Chang said. “We get to see our students in a different light. Normally, it’s about essay writing, but we get to see what our students can do when the restraints are loosened.”

Rudolph sees the award as one way students can get involved in creative writing and understand that their work has meaning.

“Our school doesn’t have many workshops or creative writing classes, so I think it’s a great way to encourage students who do write and to recognize the effort they put into their work,” Rudolph said.

English Department Chair Barbara Bader agrees with both Rudolph and Chang that the Charlie Award offers students a way to workshop their work, especially with the lack of space for creative writing in English curriculum.

“There are so few opportunities [for creative writing] since the curriculum has changed and we have to get you guys ready for college,” Bader said. “I think it is a great way to celebrate creative writing. I love it, and I’m happy to share that with students.”

Students can submit their portfolios to turnitin.com with the class ID: 16028626 and the password: Charlie. Submissions must be received by Monday, Oct. 30.

1 COMMENT

  1. Today is Charlie’s birthday, born in 1943. The love of my life. I wish I had more photos of her. I have only one.

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