Needham High Graduating Senior Awarded Hamilton Prize for Creativity from Wesleyan University

June 2017 (Volume 67, Issue 4)

By Maxine Friedman, Staff Writer

Last month, Audrey Pratt, a graduating senior at Needham High, was awarded the Hamilton Prize for her submission in a writing contest conducted by Wesleyan University, located in Middletown, Connecticut. However, the award was not just an ordinary one – the contest was held for incoming college freshmen who were interested in applying to Wesleyan. The creative work was chosen and judged for originality, artistry and dynamism, similarly to how it is embodied in Broadway’s Hamilton in which, using hip-hop, it tells the story of an audacious young immigrant named Alexander Hamilton who changed history tremendously. By winning the contest, Ms. Pratt will receive a full four-year tuition scholarship from the school and the writer and original star of the Broadway smash, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who was the honorary chairman. After receiving 600 submission papers, Wesleyan University and the Hamilton prize chairman selected Pratt as the winner for her short piece of fiction, “Thorns, Black and White”. The Hilltopper sat down with Ms. Pratt for a few questions.

Can you tell me a little bit more about your submission piece, “Thorns, Black and White”? What inspired you to write it?

“It’s about forests, coming of age stories, and girls with antlers. I was inspired by a comic talking about a world where instead of having oceans, you just had forests that went deeper and darker as you went further in.”

Did the comic help you decide to write fiction or did other things inspire you also for different genres? Why did you decide to write fiction specifically?

“The comic inspired this particular piece. I’ve been writing fiction ever since I was young. I write in a ton of different genres. I’m usually inspired by small fragments of memories that I’ll toy with and expand into a full-fledged story. I found this story unfinished in my writing file from when I started it a year or two back, and decided to finish and polish it for Hamilton.”

That’s so cool! I love fiction. That must be so relieving to put it all together and to have been so successful with it. So I’m assuming english must be a very strong and favorited subject, do you know how you would like to pursue it in the future/after college yet? Maybe write a book (or two) ?

“I’m going to major in neuroscience and writing, so I’d love to do a job that involves combining those two fields in a distinct way. I’m also very interested in screenwriting!”

Omg! That’s so interesting. Ok lastly, have you met Lin-Manuel Miranda? And have you seen Hamilton?

“I saw it this past weekend! It was fantastic! i got to go backstage and meet some of the cast, who were all lovely! I haven’t met Lin, but we’ve chatted over Twitter!”

After all of Ms. Pratt’s hard work and dedication, the award is undeniably well-deserved. Whether it be in neuroscience, screen-writing, or publishing and writing, the prizewinner will certainly go distances with her talent. Wesleyan is a private liberal arts school, emphasizing arts and sciences, after all. No doubt that Ms. Pratt will go far as she continues to encourage other students and peers around her in and outside of the high school to reach their own goals.

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