Competing as a freshman in UIL ready writing last year, Aliza White didn’t make it past the district meet. Now a sophomore, she’s Boyd High School’s lone representative at the state UIL academic meet in Austin this weekend.
“All I can say is I just wrote more and got more practice in,” White said. “Last year my essays were a lot shorter, and my examples weren’t as strong. I think this year I just practiced. The only way you can prepare is just to write, so that’s what I’ve been doing.”
White focused on reviewing past essay prompts and plotting potential responses. The contest gives competitors two prompts to choose from and a set time limit to compose a response. Grading is based on organization, structure and grammar, but White’s coach Lisa Warren said the originality of a writer’s ideas are also heavily weighted.
While some competitors prefer to type their essays, Warren said White writes her responses by hand to avoid any potential printer-related issues.
“And that happens sometimes, where they try to print but it doesn’t,” she said. “We’ve seen it. You can’t do anything about it.”
White said the school added a UIL period to help students focus on the contests, and it seems the added practice time has paid off.
“Last year there was no practice,” she said. “It was just you sign up for this event, and you go to the invitational meets and then district, but this year we have specific time to practice our events.”
With the school’s renewed focus on UIL academics, Warren said she’s looking to White for a strong showing this weekend and over her next two years of eligibility.
“She’s only a sophomore, so we have quite a bit of time to continue this,” Warren said. “We just got the UIL class, and we’re seeing results from it.”
White will compete Friday at the University of Texas at Austin.