Tighes Hill Public School's aspiring author celebrated in WriteOn competition

Pen to paper: Georgie Van Leeuwen said it only took her 20 minutes to plan and one hour to write her story. "It can be hard to write off the hook, but having a prompt gives you a direction to work in." Picture: Marina Neil
Pen to paper: Georgie Van Leeuwen said it only took her 20 minutes to plan and one hour to write her story. "It can be hard to write off the hook, but having a prompt gives you a direction to work in." Picture: Marina Neil

ASPIRING author Georgie Van Leeuwen is one step closer to her dream, after being recognised as one of the best young writers in NSW.

The NSW Education Standards Authority has selected the Tighes Hill Public School captain, 11, as one of five students from years five and six to receive a gold award in its WriteOn competition. 

Now in its ninth year, the statewide competition invites students to write 500 words using a photo from the State Library of NSW as stimulus. Entries include narratives, poems and letters.

“It’s really cool,” Georgie said. 

“I was glad to be a contender in the competition and was nervous about when the results would come out.

“It’s great it’s happened in my last year of primary school.

“We had Jordan’s lemon cake to celebrate – I was happy enough to win, but I’m always open to cake!”

Ted Hood’s photo Sydney 1949. Source: NSW State Library

Ted Hood’s photo Sydney 1949. Source: NSW State Library

Students were given Ted Hood’s photo Sydney 1949 of two young boys slipping through an opening in a dilapidated fence. Georgie’s short story was told from the perspective of an older man on his deathbed reflecting on his life highlights.

“It’s great to see the reaction the piece has had,” she said.

“I read it to some of our family friends and they were tearing up – I did not know it would have such a strong effect on people.

“That’s what I want my writing to do – to make people feel something.”

She has been invited to a ceremony at the State Library of NSW on Friday to receive her award, but will be flying to the Gold Coast with her school aerobics team to compete in the national championships. 

“I’m disappointed I can’t go to the ceremony, but am excited to compete at nationals again,” she said.

“I’m into sport and think it’s very stereotypical for people to think you can only be good at one thing – but it’s not like that, or black and white. You can be all different things.

“I’m not going to stop doing one thing – I’ll do lots and juggle them.”

Georgie’s mother Dr Fiona Van Leeuwen said her daughter had wanted to be an author ever since she could speak, but is now also considering journalism, becoming an English teacher and politics.

“I love reading and that it can take you to different places,” she said.

“I have lots of books but not enough room – I now have two rows in my wardrobe too.”

Georgie thanked her “incredible” year six teacher Jess Bowman and the school’s opportunity class teacher Kerrie Armstrong for their support.

Ms Bowman said Georgie had “a wonderful imagination and wisdom beyond her years”.

Five students from years three and four, plus five students from years one and two – including Bishop Tyrrell Anglican College’s Evelyn Russell – also received gold awards. Their work will be published in an anthology.