Award puts Carlynton graduate in league of famous authors
July 11, 2013 4:00 AM
By Bob Podurgiel
Lana Meyer graduated from Carlynton High School in June, but she didn't need to spend much time in the guidance counselor's office deciding on a career path.
Lana knew she wanted to be a writer when she was in first grade.
"When my first-grade teacher brought books into class to read, I knew I wanted to write books some time," she said. "Right from the start, I wanted to be a writer and I have never stopped."
Her early love of writing has already yielded some impressive accolades.
Lana won the 2013 Scholastic Writing Award from the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, a national competition for teens in grades seven through 12.
The competition this year attracted more than 200,000 entries in 28 categories.
She won the award for best dramatic script, and in doing so, she joined a select group of writers. Previous winners include the authors Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote and Joyce Carol Oates.
Lana received the award at Carnegie Hall in New York City the first week in June.
"It was very exciting," she said. "A wonderful ceremony, it was broadcast live over the Internet."
She learned of the award, however, in a less grandiose setting.
"In second period at school, I went to the bathroom and checked my phone. That's when I found out," she said.
Her winning script, "Roost," tells the story of a wily female poultry farmer in depression-era Texas, who struggles to preserve herself by manipulating her neighbors and ensnaring her suddenly wealthy former lover.
The Scholastic Writing Award hasn't been her only honor.
She has won the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest sponsored by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh four years in a row since first entering it as a freshman student.
Carlynton High School is a relatively small school serving Crafton, Rosslyn Farms and Carnegie. Lana lives in Rosslyn Farms.
"Our graduating class had only 84 students," said Lana, who lives in Rosslyn Farms. That helped her to establish close personal connections with her classmates, she said, and it had another advantage.
"We received a lot of attention from the teachers," she said.
Lana found her courses in math, the physical sciences and chemistry challenging and credited teachers Carrie Badger, Michael Kozy and Laura Begg with helping her.
In the fall, Ms. Meyer will start classes at Middlebury College in Vermont.
She said she chose Middlebury because it is a small college that emphasizes personalized instruction and has a great English department.
She plans to "just to keep writing, doing what I love to do. Everything I do is in service of my writing."
A staged reading of her play, "Roost," will be held at 7 p.m. Monday in Philip Salvato's Third Street Galley in Carnegie as part of the Third on Third, Local Actors Reading Local Writers series.
The original cast of Julianne Avolio, Hayley Nielson, Matt Henderson and Jordan Matthew Walsh, which performed "Roost" at the City Theater on the South Side, is returning for the reading.
A $5 donation will be collected at the door to benefit the Carnegie Arts Initiative and the Carnegie Screenwriters, sponsors of the event.
A "talk back" period will be held after the performance in which audience members can ask the writer and actors questions about the play and discuss it.