The 2020 KYD School Writing Prize invited entries from secondary school students responding to a current social or political issue. In what has been a very tumultuous year we thought it more important than ever to hear from young people about the issues that concern them. Students from across the country ambitiously tackled bushfires, the protests in Hong Kong, the scourge of colourism, the agonies of anxiety, tokenism, the objectification of young women and Black Lives Matter, among other pressing issues.

We’re thrilled to announce Neha De Alwis (Year 12, Nossal High School, VIC) as the winner of this year’s prize. Neha receives a $500 cash prize, editorial mentorship with KYD staff, and publication in KYD. Neha’s short story Termites is an inventive and engaging depiction of obsessive-compulsive disorder that not only provides a compelling description of the illness’s physical manifestation but engages with the important issue of cultural stigma and under-diagnosis of mental health conditions in young people of colour.

Our runner up is Isabel Ye (Year 12, Meriden School, NSW). Isabel’s short story Binary Blues is an assured and sensitively told story of a teenager coming out as queer and nonbinary to their mother on a trip to Beijing.

The judges of this year’s School Writing Prize were Alice Pung and KYD editor Alan Vaarwerk. Read their full report here.

We’d also like to make special mention of four highly commended entries in the prize. These writers, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Colourism in South Asia by Nimra Haseeb (Year 8, Mentone Grammar, VIC)
  • The Price of Inaction by Ruth Jarra (Year 12, Nossal High School, VIC)
  • The Package by Joel Ruberu (Year 8, Mentone Grammar, VIC)
  • What You Get by Erisha Tayal (Year 12, McKinnon Secondary College, VIC)

KYD and the judges congratulate all the students who submitted their work, and thank the teachers who supported their students in entering. Teachers can download a certificate of entry for their students here.

The winning entry will be published by Kill Your Darlings later this year. The KYD School Writing Prize will return in 2021, stay tuned for more details!