Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District

Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District News Article

Heights Alumna Receives CWRU's English Major Award

June 12, 2024 -- Tiger alumna Lila Schubert, a member of Heights High’s class of 2020, can still remember the first time she wrote an actual story. “I was in Kristi Glasier’s 4th grade class at Fairfax and I filled an entire wide-ruled notebook. I was so serious about that story and worked on it every day until I finished.” 

She has remained that serious about her writing ever since, having just graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a major in English and Creative Writing. About a week before her graduation ceremony, she was “genuinely surprised” to win the university’s Harriet Pelton Perkins Award for an Outstanding Student Majoring in English,” a prize her great-uncle – also a Heights High graduate – received nearly 60 years ago. 

“It’s really cool,” Schubert said of sharing this honor with her great-uncle Denis Wood, who graduated from Heights in 1963 and from what was then called Western Reserve University in 1967. “I remember sitting around the table at my grandparents’ house and listening to him and thinking, ‘Wow, he’s really good at talking.’ It’s sort of a strange compliment but my friends tell me I’m good at talking, which I guess goes hand in hand with reading and writing. You’re always practicing that craft.”

While Schubert has continued to write creatively, she recognizes that this award is for more than being a good writer – it’s in recognition of an outstanding English student, “about critical and technical writing, which was definitely sprouted in my high school English classes.” She cites her 11th grade AP Language & Composition teacher Courtney White and 12th grade CCP College Composition teacher Katherine Strine for being “formative in her instruction. They were both really into English and talked passionately about the books they read. That had an impact.”

Strine returned to Schubert’s college essay which featured that story from grade school: “The exploration of the human experience that once manifested itself in childhood games and my fourth grade notebook now takes a new life in poetry and short stories.” Strine went on to say, “To see someone take their childhood vision into adulthood (and earn such a prestigious award!): that’s the reward of teaching. I’m proud of her accomplishment, not only because she held fast to her dream but because she’ll continue the role of ‘outstanding student’ as she studies human nature and replicates it in her writing.”

White, who loves to hear about former students majoring in English, “was always impressed by Lila’s maturity and her willingness to seek feedback in order to improve. Even as an 11th grader, she had an innate grasp of language and how to weave it to create her purpose.”

Schubert also credits Lake Erie Ink as the place where she was encouraged to take risks, be creative, explore and just write. The whole point of Ink Spot, which she did regularly from 4th through 8th grade, “was so that kids had a space to do just that.” 

She plans to spend the next year or two working while writing as much as possible to build up a portfolio of stories and poetry so she can apply for a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. 

Her great-uncle has also made a life of writing, as an artist, author, cartographer and former professor. Having two people in one family win the same major award feels like “a big deal,” said Schubert. “There’s really nothing like that replicated in anything else in my life. It makes me feel rooted in history.”

lila schubert '20 - cwru graduation & english major award

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