On the Town: Cabrini Literary Guild honors young writers at luncheon

On the Town: Cabrini Literary Guild honors young writers at luncheon
Teacher Monica Aguilar, center, poses with Cabrini Literary Guild writing award winners, from left: Grant Smith, first place; Matthew Morreale, second place; Everett Courtois, third place; and Jacqueline Gettys, fourth place. (Photo by Ruth Sowby Rands)

'Go forth and heal the world. We're counting on you." That advice came from TV writer and novelist Diane Dixon, who was master of ceremonies at the Cabrini Literary Guild's annual Creating Writing Awards luncheon on April 12.

Dixon was primarily addressing the four teenage essay writers who won the cash awards she presented to them.


The Oakmont Country Club was the setting for honoring the young writers, all from Mary Star of the Sea High School in San Pedro. Their essays were chosen out of 124 entries from 40 Catholic high schools in the Los Angeles Archdiocese.

At the start of the program, Marie Urrutia, guild president, welcomed several dozen members and their guests. Guild moderator Father Norman Supancheck gave the opening prayer.


After lunch, Heather Ghermezian, director of the Cabrini awards, introduced judges Gael Davitt, Stella Fejek and Susan Hunt. They had their work cut out for them as they read through each entry answering the prompt, "The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hires you as a consultant to determine how best to use $20 billion to save the world. What is your plan?"

First-place winner was Grant Smith, 18. His plan is to lower crime rates and boost disaster-relief efforts. Smith's award was $1,000.

Second-place winner was Matthew Morreale, 15. His goal is to provide clean water to third world countries. For his career, Morreale wants to be a film composer. He was awarded $750.

Everett Courtois, 18, nabbed third place. His plan is to make Esperanto the International language. Esperanto is based on roots from European languages and has an estimated 2 million speakers. Courtois was awarded $500.

Fourth-place winner, Jacqueline Gettys, 18, outlined her plan to use the $20 billion for cancer research. Her award was $350.

The teacher of all four students is Carson resident Monica Aguilar. She made writing the essay mandatory. That meant no one could get out of the assignment even if they wanted to.

But the incentives were good grades, cash, the opportunity to listen to inspirational speaker Dixon and the chance to speak before the guild. English teacher Aguilar was present at the luncheon.

"I know how hard everyone worked. I'm proud of them. It's a huge blessing. God is good," Aguilar said.

Master of ceremonies Dixon is a double Emmy nominee and a recipient of the Humanitas prize for outstanding accomplishment in writing for television. She is also a novelist with three novels under her belt. Her debut novel, "The Language of Secrets," was named a Top 10 New Fiction title on Amazon. Dixon's inspirational words to the students ended with, "Tell us the truth. Write with humility."

The end of the program meant photo snapping. Proud parents took plenty of pictures of their winners.

The mission of the Cabrini Literary Guild is to "Assist, financially and otherwise, Catholic and charitable organizations. Through activities, the guild stimulates interest in Catholic literature, thought, action and philanthropy."

Earth Day cupcakes

Sidney Flores, 5, shows off her face paint and her Earth Day cupcake box straight out of the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM in the Americana at Brand.
Sidney Flores, 5, shows off her face paint and her Earth Day cupcake box straight out of the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM in the Americana at Brand. (Photo by Ruth Sowby Rands)

In recognition of Earth Day on Sunday, Sprinkles Cupcakes at the Americana at Brand was brimming with Earth Day vanilla cupcakes.

Sidney Flores, 5, popped by the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM for hers. Aunt Diana Lobos and friend Alexis Vazquez treated her to the $3.95 sweet.

At the counter, sales associate Su Sel of Glendale sold hundreds of cupcakes, many of which were the Earth Day variety.

"People are asking for them," Sel said.

Of the day's proceeds, 10% will be donated to the Nature Conservancy.

RUTH SOWBY RANDS may be reached at