Students Win Essay Content to Meet Bestselling Author

It all started with a book. A book four Upper School students loved so much that it brought them together and strengthened their friendship. A book that re-sparked their love of reading and propelled them to devour the newest additions to the series as they were released. In their own words, it’s a book series that taught them life lessons like how to be strong, brave, and stand up for what you believe in.
It was the Throne of Glass series that bonded Ellis juniors Aniya A., Aira B., Alena L., and Simone R., and motivated them to enter an essay contest about friendship hosted by the author’s publisher. The prize? An all-expense paid trip to Philadelphia to meet the author, Sarah J. Maas, herself.

Inspired by their own relationship that blossomed thanks to Maas’ books, the girls wrote an essay that perfectly articulated what the series meant to them. From the strong female characters to the empowerment of people of color and diversity in the books, the group cited how the Throne of Glass series showed them the importance of resilience, perseverance, and the power of female allies.

“The essay was really a testament to our passion for the books and our experience at Ellis,” said Aniya. “Ellis was a major factor because if we didn’t all go to school here we wouldn’t have become friends. Ellis also taught us how to convey and edit our ideas, to be really proud of the things we are passionate about, and to follow through on what we love.”

After waiting with bated breath, the girls found out in early October that they had, in fact, won the contest and would be meeting their favorite author. There was a slight problem though—the planned date did not work with their schedules and they all desperately wanted to attend. The girls wrote to Maas’ publicist about their predicament, made their argument, and asked her to switch the date. Their boldness paid off and the date was moved to Friday, October 19.  

When the time came to meet with Maas at the Mary Cassatt Tea Room in Philadelphia, the girls were blown away by her down-to-earth personality, enthusiasm, and candor. Their conversation and connection were so dynamic that instead of the allotted one-hour time frame they were promised—Maas stayed with the girls for three and a half hours to talk about the books, her characters, and upcoming work.

“Being able to sit down with Sarah and talk about the books was incredible. It brought the whole world to life and surpassed all of our expectations,” said Simone. “We have so much gratitude to her for her doing this—it was one of the most amazing experiences of our lives.”
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