Friday, January 30, 2009

York Resident, Berwick Academy Alumna Receives Nationwide Writing Award

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist

A 2008 graduate of Berwick Academy was presented the Cum Laude Paper – 2008 nationwide writing award Monday by The Cum Laude Society.
Katherine Edkins of York won the award for a work, “Sixty-four Square Feet” which she submitted during her senior year at the academy.
“It was a complete surprise,” Ms. Edkins said of winning the award. “It’s been totally unexpected.”
Ms. Edkins is a freshman at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., and made the trip to South Berwick to receive the award from head of school Greg Schneider at a gathering of Upper School students and faculty.
“This achievement is truly extraordinary for Katie, and it has brought tremendous recognition to Berwick Academy as well,” Schneider said. “In some ways, we should not be surprised at this outcome given Katie’s remarkable career at Berwick. Her essay demonstrates an extraordinary integration of description, innovative structure, self-analysis, and a hauntingly shared sense of coming of age for both author and reader alike.”
“I believe that this is the first time in the competition’s five-year history that the national winner has come from a District I school,” said William Prescott, the regent for the Society’s District 1. “As I said to Katie in a recent message I sent to her, I hope she continues to write while in college - and not necessarily just for specific course work. She has a gift, and I’m pleased to have had an opportunity to share in recognizing and honoring it.”
When Ms. Edkins learned of the competition last year she was quick to decide to enter.
“I consider myself to be a writer,” she said, “This is what I love to do and I might as well give it a shot.”
Just what she’ll do when she graduates is up in the air. She mentioned law school, and is taking English and Chinese classes. She is really enjoying the latter, noting it’s exciting to be “learning something entirely different.” And there’s that love of writing.
“I want to see where I am after all this,” she said of her years at Dartmouth.
Ms. Edkins, the daughter of Bill and Laurie Edkins of York, moved to York when she was in seventh grade from St. Louis, Mo. “I really, really love Maine,” she said.
She also expressed her thanks to Berwick Academy.
Her essay was selected from submissions from the Cum Laude Society’s 350-member schools from all over the world. In addition to a plaque she also received a cash award of $1,000.
The Cum Laude Society, an international academic honorary founded in 1906, said the annual competition is designed to recognize and celebrate outstanding academic achievement in high schools.
Ms. Edkins was inducted into the Cum Laude Society as a junior and the National French Honor Society as a sophomore.
She also earned a departmental recognition award in English, was involved with the Math Team, Honor Committee, and co-founded the literary magazine with her sister Maggie, a member of the Berwick Class of 2009.
Ms. Edkins also participated in the National Youth Leadership Forum and the Stanford Education Program for Gifted Youth.
Berwick academy was founded 1791 as an independent, co-educational country day school. For over 200 years the academy has pursued its mission through a purposeful blend of strong academics, arts, and athletics.
Berwick currently serves over 600 students in grades K-12 from the seacoast area of southern Maine, New Hampshire, and northern Massachusetts.
Photo caption: Katherine Edkins of York receives the Cum Laude Paper – 2008 nationwide writing award from Berwick Academy head of school Greg Schneider. (Courtesy photo)

Local Restaurant Receives National Award

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist

A local restaurant has just received national recognition. East, a restaurant featuring Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisine, has recently been honored as one of the top 10 Chinese restaurants in the entire nation by Chinese Restaurant News (CRN), a trade publication in San Francisco, Calif. with a circulation of 43,000 throughout the country.
Owner Ri Teng Li was notified in December that East had been awarded Top 100 status by CRN’s annual competition, and was invited to a ceremony in Las Vegas, Nev. to witness the unveiling of his restaurant’s official number ranking.
Before leaving for Las Vegas in early January, Li was notified that East was voted into the Top 10 in the “overall quality” category. At the CRN ceremony, he discovered East was voted no. 1 overall in the “décor & atmosphere” category.
“It was really exciting,” said Li. “Everybody’s working hard here, the manager, all the employees. I think this award really belongs to everybody at the restaurant.”
These two achievements are especially impressive considering the thousands of Chinese restaurants in competition from the big cities of New York, San Francisco, and everywhere in between. He is especially proud about taking home the no. 1 prize in “décor & atmosphere.”
“Everything here, the materials, the colors, the lighting has been done so beautifully and professionally. To be number one in the country is a true honor, ” Li reflected.
This is the first time a Maine Chinese restaurant has been honored as a Top-10 restaurant by CRN.
Li received official congratulations at the Las Vegas ceremony from Master Chef Martin Yan (host of the popular cooking show on TV, Yan Can Cook) and from Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman. Li and Yan then together graced the cover of a recent edition of CRN.
Li believes news of the award is already helping his business.
“People are now coming all the way from Portland and New Hampshire. Business is better than expected,” remarked Li.
Restaurant manager Johnny Zhao agrees.
“Last weekend for Saturday dinner we had a full house. We even had a long waiting list,” Zhao commented.
CRN determines its rankings by sending undercover diners to competing restaurants who then rank the restaurants on numerous checkpoints in several categories. East is located at 636 Post Rd (US Rte. 1) in Wells. For more information, visit
Photo caption: Left to right: Owner Ri Teng Li, Master Chef Martin Yan, and Li’s wife We Li at the ceremony in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Courtesy photo)