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First Minerva Prize at The Leys

In a prizegiving ceremony held on Thursday 11 May, the first Minerva Prize was awarded to Year 13 pupil Ben TB. Year 12 pupil Joshua W took second place and Jess N, also in Year 12, finished in third. The competition invited pupils to submit essays on a topic of their choosing to be judged by Fellow at Clare College, Ian Burrows.

Ben’s winning essay focussed on Emile Zola’s novel La Bête Humaine looking at its critique of the Second French Empire. Josh investigated George Orwell’s Animal Farm and its exploration of power, and Jess looked at how Madeline Miller’s Circle presents the patriarchal attitudes of Ancient Greece. Our guest judge commented on how the essays demonstrated the type of independent study he would hope to see in undergraduate pupils.

Named after the Roman Goddess of Wisdom, and sponsor of the Arts, medicine and Crafts, this prize offers an exciting opportunity to celebrate and explore the links between various disciplines and areas of study. Aimed at Leysian pupils in Years 11, 12, and 13, entrants were invited to submit a 2,000 word essay on a title of their choosing.

Entry was open to all pupils, but those hoping to apply for the more competitive universities were encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to show research, analytical skills and the ability to make connections between academic subjects and how they are interrogated in works of literature – novels, drama or poetry.

Head of English, Anna Garrett, commented: “The quality of the essays was extraordinarily high, especially considering this was the first year we have run the competition. Submissions explored a range of subject areas, using the lens of Literature to examine the Classical world, History, Geography and Modern Foreign Languages.

“We were incredibly proud of the endeavour, intellectual curiosity, independence and intelligence evident in all submissions. The competition provided pupils with the opportunity to explore the connections between academic subjects and also gave them the chance to explore their own literary interests.”

The trophy, created by our DT Department, and prize money donated by an Old Leysian will be handed out at the School prize giving at the end of the Summer Term.