KATONAH, N.Y. – A John Jay middle school student is the youngest of six to win a national writing award focused on tolerance and learning from the mistakes of the past.
Elodie Nix, of Katonah, addressed the morality of drone strikes by telling a story from both the perspective of an innocent boy playing with his dog in a Middle Eastern community and a man pained by the 9/11 terrorist attacks who is remotely operating a drone.
“I wanted the story to make people stop and ask whether drone attacks were the right way to fight terrorism,” she said. “By describing the man’s actions using video gaming language, I tried to emphasize how this way of attacking people is insensitive and sometimes thoughtless.”
Nix’s mother, Claire, said she can “be pretty intense about what she believes in. Writing is an outlet for that, so I really hope she keeps it up and branches out.”
The Gedenk Award for Tolerance is sponsored by the Gedenk Movement, which is a small group that encourages young people to learn about the Holocaust and other genocides, and then take that knowledge to create music, literature or other art forms.
Nix, the third of four sisters, said her favorite outlet is poetry.
“I like playing with the words and getting focused on how each one works to get the feeling across,” she said. “I feel like it’s easier to get each word exactly right when there is less to deal with.”
Nix said she flipped when she found out she was one of the six winners.
“When mom explained I had won the award I screamed really, really loudly and danced around the room for a while,” she exclaimed.
Each winner won $1,000, which Nix said she may use to buy a laptop or pay for tuition for a summer writing course.
“I’m proud of all the hard work she put into revising and editing this story over many months, working with both her teacher at (John Jay Middle School), as well as an afternoon intensive clinic at Writopia,” Claire said.
Writopia is a non-profit writing workshop for kids with locations in Katonah, Larchmont, Hartsdale, Stamford and Greenwich.
Beyond writing, Nix is a competitive springboard diver. She practices six days a week with High Dive Champions in Purchase and with Katonah Swim and Dive team in the summers. She is interested in becoming a doctor.
"But I love to write and think being a good writer probably helps no matter what I end up doing," she said.