John Cooper Student writer wins prestigious Gold Key award

By: Caitlin Ramirez
| Published 02/02/2023


THE WOODLANDS, TX -- Writer Caitlin Gyselen, an 8th grader at The John Cooper School, was recently awarded a Gold Key by Scholastic Art & Writing Awards 2023 – Alliance for Young Art.

“I was shocked – this is my first time in this competition, and I didn’t think that I would actually win such a high-level award,” said Gyselen. “ It’s fantastic to know that my work is valued.”

This is the 100th year the Gold Key has been awarded to artists and writers, with renowned recipients including Stephen King, Andy Warhol, and Sylvia Plath.

“I’m so very proud of Caitlin – she worked very hard throughout the vignette series,” said Travis Gasper, her Middle School English Teacher. “I could tell that she took her love of ‘The House on Mango Street,’ which is what we were reading, and translated that love into her own writing.”

Her work, “Head in the Clouds,” won the Region-at-Large program, with a Gold Key in the Personal Essay & Memoir category. She will be mailed a golden key in the coming months. Her writing will now be judged nationally in New York City in March, where she could potentially become a National Medalist.

“This is typically a high school competition – you see a lot of high school students who win,” said Gasper. “The fact that she was able to win as an 8th grader is a very prestigious accomplishment for her.”

The following is an excerpt Gyselen chose from one of her vignettes entitled “Sing Songs:”

“The song was different than the other songs. The warrior song forever seared into my mind. Bravery and honesty, friendship and kindness, perseverance and wonder, we could stay up all night. We almost did, in the backyard with the shabby tents from the garage. Singing our songs to the stars, and the stars blinking back. They listened, and so we sang. Raggedy voices chirping and calling out, make it rhyme! Add more lines! Fix the refrain!, until we had no more songs to sing. So we sang them again, and when dawn turned its bright side on us, we sang the warrior song until our voices went dry.”

The John Cooper School is a PK-12 independent, college preparatory day school that has been serving The Woodlands and greater Houston area since 1988.

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