Alison Somers is best known for her prowess in the pool, as an award-winning member of the Poseidon Swim Team.
But it was the stroke of a pen that will take the Carbonear Collegiate student to Ottawa and France later this year.
Somers will be making the pilgrimage to Beaumont Hamel in July, after her award-winning poem was chosen in the senior category (high school) of the 2011 remembrance literary contest sponsored by the Royal Canadian Legion Provincial Command.
A Level 1 student at Carbonear Collegiate, Somers is the daughter of Junior and Cathy Somers of Carbonear.
The 15-year-old student will be in Beaumont Hamel July 1 to take part in the annual Memorial Day ceremonies there.
This year marks the 96th anniversary of the infamous Battle of Beaumont Hamel, one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War, which nearly wiped out the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. Of the more than 800 men who went over the top on July 1, 1916, less than 70 answered roll call the next day.
Somers is one of four Newfoundland students, who were named first place winners in the literary, poetry and poster contest at the senior level in the provincial competition.
Their award-winning work earned them the privilege to be in Beaumont Hamel in July for the solemn occasion, where they will place wreaths at the war memorial on behalf of all Newfoundland and Labrador youth.
Somers was the only student from the Trinity-Conception region to be named a first place winner at the senior level of the provincial remembrance contest this year.
Her award-winning poem was also chosen by the Royal Canadian Legion Dominion Command as a national winner. That distinction has also earned her a trip to Ottawa on Nov. 11 for the annual national Remembrance Day ceremonies marking the 94th anniversary of the end of "the war to end all wars."
In the nation's capital she will join other award-winning students from across Canada who will place wreaths on behalf of Canada's youth.
While she knew she had already won the provincial competition, Somers didn't know anything about the national win until April 5, when members of Branch 23, Royal Canadian Legion turned out at Carbonear Collegiate to make the announcement.
Sarah Lawrence, schools and remembrance chair for Branch 23 told the school's closing Easter assembly: "I am very excited to announce that for the next year Alison's poem will be on display at the National War Museum in Ottawa because she is also the winner of the national contest."
In addition to the all-expense paid trips, Somers will be receiving $100 from Provincial Command and $500 from Dominion Command.
Somers and her school will also be receiving plaques to mark to occasion.
Alison had been entering her essays and posters in the remembrance contest since she was in primary school at Davis Elementary. But this year marked the first time she had turned her attention to verse.
After her poem had finished in second place at the local level, she was surprised to learn she had placed first at the provincial level. But the last thing she was expecting was to also be named a national winner.
"I wasn't expecting it at all," she told The Compass afterwards.
Anxious to see the Beumont Hamel site that she has been learning about in her history class, Somers said, it will be interesting to see it. This is really overwhelming."
She is involved in the French immersion program at Carbonear Collegiate, something that will come in handy while she is in France.
"I'm not completely bilingual, but I can carry on a conversation in French," she said.
Branch 23 president, Berkley Lawrence said he was "very pleased and proud" of Alison's accomplishment.
Pointing out that most of top awards at the provincial level go to Level 3 students, Lawrence said, "this was an amazing feat for a Level 1 student."
Also commending Alison for doing her school and community so proud, principal Eddy Russell said, whether it's music, drama, robotics or athletics, Carbonear Collegiate students excel.
Sarah Lawrence said the Royal Canadian Legion is mandated by an act of parliament to promote remembrance. "One of the ways we do that is by sponsoring a poster and literary contest," Lawrence noted.
Interest in the contest remains strong, with the Carbonear branch alone receiving almost 1,000 entries this year. Winning entries at the local (branch) level went on to compete with winners from 46 other Legion branches around the province.
Open to all students in the province, the literary and poster contest is divided into four categories - primary, junior, intermediate and senior.