Senior Tina Xia wins award at F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival


Senior Tina Xia gave a speech and read a part of her short story at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival Oct. 20. Xia’s story won the Student Short Story contest, one of the three contests at the annual Festival. Photo courtesy Tina Xia.

By Lukas Troost

A high school senior living in Miami-Dade in the 1980s. An alcoholic father that prevents him from living his dreams.

This is the story outlined in senior Tina Xia’s short story that won the Student Short Story contest at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival Oct. 20.

The annual Festival, held this year at Richard Montgomery High School, showcases exemplary writing by presenting the Award for Achievement in American Literature, as well as awards for two short story contests—one open to MCPS students and the other to adults living in the area. This is the 22nd year of the event, and this year, Xia and three other students accompanied English teacher Madeline Tanzi to the Festival as part of the creative writing club.

“I thought of the idea in English class and then from there I was like, what kind of story do I want to tell,” Xia said. “The more you write, the more you realize what topics you want to develop. Through writing short stories or poetry you really get to know yourself better.”

To honor her winning, Xia gave a speech and read a small part of her story at the Festival, which was an amazing experience, she said. Xia has been working with Tanzi on her writings through the creative writing club.

“I just think her artistic ethic and dedication to the arts is remarkable,” Tanzi said. “When you love something, you give your all to it and that’s just what Tina’s doing.”

To the surprise of Tanzi, the conference included a wide variety of attendees ranging from students to professional authors and served as an introduction to the profession as a whole.

“When we sat down at the first workshop, it was full of adult authors, some of whom have published civil war history or personal memoirs,” Tanzi said. “It’s more than trying to win an award but it’s the desire to be a part of that world.”

Both Xia and Tanzi strongly encouraged students to actively write, though Xia admits not all ideas will be successful.

“Just write about whatever ideas you can come up with,” Xia said. “As long as you can find one that sticks, it’s a good piece.”