The competition brief was to write a 1000-word short story based around the theme of ‘New Beginnings’. Amongst the many entrants to the competition, Xaverian College students, Emilio Fox Castineiras’ Alex Macleod and Alex Allen completed a clean sweep with first, second and third places.
Emilio is currently a Year 13 student at Xaverian, studying A Levels in English Language, Film Studies and History. His story, entitled ‘I’m Here Now’, is about two people and one of them is dying. The ‘new beginning’ element of the story is the mystery about what could happen after the death of one of the characters. Emilio commented: “I enjoyed writing the story and it was good to get it recognised and to know people have enjoyed reading it. Winning the competition will give me more confidence in writing stories in the future. I like the idea of writing stories as a career, but I also play the piano and trumpet, so I’ll see where my future career takes me.”
Competition judges from the university’s creative writing department commented on Emilio’s story: “The short story ‘I’m Here Now’ struck us particularly for its mature and lyrical style. Castineiras is experimenting here with intriguing use of tense and the story feels well-paced for the specified wordcount. A thoughtful and sensitively written piece.”
Emilio is also a former winner of the ‘Talking About Voices’ competition in May 2022, led by Manchester Voices research project. Emilio and fellow Xaverian student, Faith Axon-Kendall, teamed-up to produce a podcast on bilingualism and the change or difference in personalities when speaking in different languages.
Alex Allen, who is studying A Levels in Music, Music Tech, and English Language, wrote a piece called ‘Cornfield’ and based the plot around a Kansas farm inspector who visited a farm. The story is told from the perspective of a blind boy called Jonas and what he heard happen that evening. It tells how it didn’t work out between the inspector and the family at the farm and how the situation degenerated into a fight between the father and the inspector, which resulted in the death of the inspector.
Alex said: “I was pleased the judges enjoyed the story, and I will take on board their feedback so I can improve my story-telling technique in the future. As well as writing, I am also a keen musician and play the guitar, double bass, drums and the piano, so I want to become a professional music performer/musician as a career. In some ways, storytelling is linked to music and storytelling and song-writing go together. The more you work on one, the more you work on the other, and I hope to continue doing both. When I finish my A Levels at Xaverian, I hope to continue at a music conservatoire to learn more about and perform music.”
Commenting on Alex’s story, the judges said: “The short story ‘Cornfield’ has a compelling and authentic voice. The ending is unexpected, yet Allen has woven the truth through the work effectively. It made us think about the nature of being witness to an event. And difficult subject matter is handled with nuance and care.”
Georgia Hargreaves from Edge Hill University commented: “We were delighted that Xaverian students entered the competition and placed so highly. We received entries from many talented young writers in the area so all three students should be incredibly proud of themselves for the quality of their entries. The judges were impressed with the high standard of their writing and the fact they are all students from the same College. Well done to all and we are sure they will all go on to be successful writers in their future careers.”
If you’re passionate about communication, or love to read, then English is a course you’ll find irresistible. At Xaverian, students can choose to study A Levels in English Language, English Literature, or a combined English Language and Literature course.
As one of the largest providers of post-16 education in the region, Xaverian College offers an extensive range of A Levels in addition to several BTEC courses.