Claremont takes top literary honours

Claremont secondary continues to churn out the best young writers in the province.

Last month, the B.C. Teachers of English Language Arts published their annual review of the best in student writing. By far, most of the pieces were sent in by creative writers at the Wesley Road school.

“It’s almost entirely Claremont,” said Dave Ellison, editor of Voices Visible, which accepted submissions from all public schools in B.C.

He received between 1,200 and 1,500 entries, which a group of judges whittled down to approximately 50.

Ellison wasn’t surprised Claremont dominated the publication.

“We know the teachers,” he said. “We know Susan Stenson, so we know that the program is really strong.”

All of the Grade 11 work published came from the school, with Claremont Grade 12s accounting for 90 per cent of the pieces selected.

“It shows that we’re doing something and what we’re doing is teaching writing,” Stenson said, who has taught English literature and writing at Claremont for two decades. She imbues her students with the knowledge of industry standards, she said, with a heavy focus on the revision process.

Encouraging students to blog and read more – from English lit standards to the teen fiction du jour – are also in Stenson’s arsenal of teaching tools.

“Why is it the best (English) department?” she asked. “It’s not in the water. It’s teachers tending to language.”

The deadline for submissions to next year’s Voices Visible is May 1.

Calling all teen writers

The school’s award-winning student literary journal edited by Stenson, The Claremont Review, is holding its annual writing contest. Teens who mail in their fiction and poetry submissions by March 15 have a chance at $2,000 in cash prizes. Last year’s winners came from Ottawa, Asheville, N.C., Miami, Iowa, Montreal and Victoria.

For full contest guidelines, visit