The first time St. Mark's High School junior Hannah Falchuk entered a writing contest was last year as a sophomore when English teacher John Fiorelli encouraged her to enter the da Vinci Society's writing contest for Americans of Italian descent.
Falchuk wrote about her Italian grandmother and other family members and she ended up getting second place.
Then, Fiorelli encouraged her to enter the Commonwealth Awards Writing Contest in 2012. She did not win.
This year, she tried again and she was one of four winners for her subject matter, historian and author David McCullough. That gave her and her parents the privilege of attending this year's Common Wealth Awards black tie affair held recently at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington to honor the 2o13 recipients – McCullough, actor-activist Martin Sheen, broadcast journalist Jane Pauley, McCullough and actor Alan Alda.
Falchuk, who has accumulated a stellar 3.96 GPA at St. Mark's, sat down with the Hockessin Community News for a Q&A Wednesday afternoon.
Q First of all, what was your approach for your second place finish in the da Vinci Society writing contest?
A I had to really think about what I was writing. The question was, what does it mean to be an Italian American? You could pretty much go anywhere with it. I talked about my family being part Italian and I talked about Italian Americans today in politics and the world. I got a $500 prize for coming in second.
Q Why did you pick McCullough as your subject for the Commonwealth Awards?
A McCullough was the only one I had anything in common with. He's a writer and I looked at his books. He's written "John Adams", "Truman" and "1776." But he had just written a book about Americans in Paris and I like anything French. So, we had the writing and French in common.
Q How was it to attend the prestigious Commonwealth Awards at the ritzy Hotel du Pont?
A It was great. There were three other girls [who won]; we were the first ones there. We talked to the Commonwealth Awards winners for 45 minutes in a foyer with the PNC president and hardly any other people. We did all the pictures, including individual pictures with our honoree and a group picture. Then, there was dinner. The whole time, they treated us like V.I.P.s. We had seats at the very front. They were so nice.
Q What was Mr. McCullough like?
A He was very nice. The first thing he said to me was how much he enjoyed reading my essay and how it praised him in more ways than he could imagine. During the actual awards ceremony, he said it was lovely and nice. And he said, "She's a good writer."
Page 2 of 2 - Q What are you looking to do with your writing talent?
A When people ask me that, I say a lawyer, a writer or a teacher. I know what I would do involves writing in some way. But I don't know if it would be novels or writing for a company.