Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC)

Fran Abrams Creative Writing Award


The Fran Abrams Creative Writing Award honors both a high school senior who excels in creative writing and Fran Abrams, who worked tirelessly throughout her career to support the arts and humanities in Montgomery County. The Fran Abrams Creative Writing Award will be a competitive award open annually to all Montgomery County high school seniors. The award includes a cash prize of $1,000 and an award reception featuring a reading by the winner.


This award is given to a high school senior graduating in the Class of 2017 who is enrolled in a public or non-public high school in Montgomery County to benefit his/her pursuit of a creative writing related career. The sixth annual $1,000 Fran Abrams Creative Writing Award for 2017 will be granted following a juried selection process that is based upon the merit of the original work submitted and the applicant’s potential for a creative writing related career, not financial need.


An applicant must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be a Montgomery County resident,
  • Be enrolled full-time during the fall semester of their senior year in a public or non-public high school located in Montgomery County, and
  • Be graduating in the Spring of 2017.

Application Deadline

Applications for the 2017 Award must be submitted via the online application system by Friday, October 14th, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. Below are the 2016-2017 guidelines for your reference:

2016-2017 Abrams Guidelines


Application Preparation Assistance

AHCMC staff will hold free award preparation webinars to provide assistance to those applying for the Fran Abrams Creative Writing Award. Workshops are held at AHCMC's offices; AHCMC strongly encourages all applicants to attend.



Applicants are encouraged to contact AHCMC with any questions they may have. Assistance is available via email, phone or in-person by contacting Nabil Ghachem at or 301-565-3804.

Fall 2015 Recipient: Emily Zhang

Emily Zhang is currently a senior at Richard Montgomery High School. She loves telling bits of stories through poetry, and hopes to one day work in arts advocacy where she can teach students the importance of creative expression. She is currently Editor in Chief of the The Moco Student, Montgomery County’s student newspaper, as well as News Editor of The Tide, Richard Montgomery’s High School newspaper. In addition, Emily founded Sidereal Journal, an online publication that is dedicated to showcasing the works of writers and artists who create with the purpose of shifting the perspective of the public. Emily has earned a Scholastic Art & Writing Award, and her work has been recognized by Feminist Studies, The Poetry Society of England, The Sierra Nevada Review, Princeton University, and National Poetry Quarterly, as well as many other publications. 

Artistic Statement

"Writing, originally, was a documentation of my life—I’ve kept journals since the fourth grade—but whenever I found myself uprooted into a new environment, I wrote to address this strange new sense of loneliness.Poetry is my connection of people and people, author and reader, ideas that never seemed to mesh well until they did. I love this width of possibility, this restlessness of words. I love that it inspires equal parts adventure and introspection and empathy.

When China handed me a fistful of loneliness and mistranslation, I gave it line breaks on café napkins, candy wrappers, grocery store receipts. I wrote when the neighborhood bookstore stopped carrying English titles. I wrote when my grandpa passed away and left all his playing cards on the table and orange juice in the fridge."


Fall 2014 Recipient: Logan Dreher

Logan Dreher is currently a senior at Blake High School. An active member of organizations like the National Honors Society, Black Student Union, and Knitting Club, she expresses her love for writing through her leadership roles as editor-in-chief of the nationally recognized school newspaper, 'The Blake Beat,' and as president of the Creative Writing Club. She has given back to her community by obtaining over 250 community service hours. In the past, Logan has been featured in the Bethesda Magazine, and was a recipient of the National Society of Arts and Literature Award for Excellence. She owes her success to her family, friends, and writing mentor Amy Branson. 


Artistic Statement
I don't think I've ever considered why I was interested in writing before. It is something as intrinsically tied to my being as my hair or eye color. In that vein, there was never one moment I realized I wanted to write. The heavens never opened up, and God never strode out and declared, "You shall write."

Most of my life seemed impermanent and abstract; two of my best friends moved away when I was a child; my father moved to California, and then to Florida, after my parents divorced; and I felt race-less, community-less as a white looking biracial girl in an African American household. Writing made my life feel concrete. If I could just capture a moment in words, it was real and it was permanent

Spring 2014 Recipient: Yiyi "Jessica" Li

Yiyi “Jessica” Li immigrated to America from China at the age of nine and will graduate from Richard Montgomery High School in June of 2014. Her works have been featured on Teen-Ink, Stage-of-life, and the New York Times Education Blog. She has also been recognized in nation-wide contests including the River of Words International Poetry Contest, National Creative Communications Essay Contest, and the Scholastic Writing Awards, as well as in local competitions such as the Bethesda Magazine Essay Contest, MCCPTA Reflections Contest, and One World Education Reflections Program. Jessica will attend Princeton University in the fall of 2014 and hopes to become a news reporter/commentator.


Artistic Statement 
Illegal immigrant. Teenage mother. Housewife of a Wall Street billionaire. Do you think crime? Burden? Extravagance and perpetual festivity? After coming to America, my family moved from a grease-smelling garage-sized tenement sheltering fourteen people to a house of our own on a scenic street. The stereotypes I had been associated with in the eyes of my counterparts had changed, yet, there was always a monochromatic label that they slapped onto me. That’s what got me to pick up my pen. I write to amplify the non-mainstream voices, for I’ve witnessed the power of words to peacefully erase prejudices and open our eyes to what we once refused to see.

2013 Recipient: Sydney Axelrod

Congratulations to Sydney Axelrod, recipient of the 2013 Fran Abrams Creative Writing Award! Sydney is graduating senior at Richard Montgomery High School. Next year, she plans to attend Drexel University, where she will be majoring in Communications with a minor in either English or Screenwriting. Join us for a reading of her work on June 11th!


Artistic Statement

"A 'wise' woman once told me that my generation has no imagination. Now, I use the term 'wise' loosely, seeing as that is an incredibly ignorant attack on the entire future of our society. Nevertheless, her words hit home and slapped me in the face. No imagination?! Well, I decided at that point -- being the stubborn thirteen year old that I was -- that I would prove her wrong. In the years that have passed, I have come to realize that my generation has developed into the carbon-copy clones we all know not as a result of our own laziness, but of the system by which we are educated. Now, I'm not blaming the nation's teachers; I'm looking at the man behind the curtain who's putting the scores before the skills. Students are tau