Cerstin Johnson

Cerstin Johnson was born on January 3, 1990 in Metairie Louisiana. She attended Hazel Park Hilda Knoff Elementary, where she was accepted into the Gifted and Talented Program in the fourth grade. Through this program, she first discovered the art of creative writing, throwing her energies into writing tall tales, myths, and legends. Yet her interests in sports often overruled her passion for the arts. It wasn’t until the sixth grade when introduced to her new English teacher Mrs. Mary Sue North at J.D.Meisler Middle School, that she discovered her true creative writing capabilities. Mrs. North always insisted that Johnson do her best, and pushed her to experiment with all sorts of writing, from poetry, to fiction, to narratives. Johnson then developed her current love for writing, entering into various contests for Young Authors during her years at Meisler, and ultimately applying for entry into New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA). 

Johnson began her high school career, at both grace King High School and NOCCA, where she studied Fiction. There, under the direction of Anne Gisleson and Ed Skoog, she learned about the disciplines necessary for her art, finally moving beyond just raw talent and into form and character. Johnson relocated in her 10th grade year to Washington, DC after Hurricane Katrina, where she attended Duke Ellington School of the Arts. She is a student in Ellington’s Literary Media Arts Department, and there continues her interest in fiction and playwriting. 

Some of Johnson’s earliest achievements include being featured in many programs and other functions around her schools and church, Hill of Zion Baptist Church, where she often broadcasted her love for the arts and writing. In 2004 Johnson had two poems published in Make Some Noise: A Youth Poetry Anthology, a nationwide poetry contest for teens. And in 2006 she was honored as the first place winner of the PEN/Faulkner Writers in Schools’ Dream Me Home Safely essay contest, a citywide competition. 

Johnson is an active member of the Worship By Choice Gospel Choir and Ministries, under the direction of Gregory Watkins, along with many both Ellington and other high school students. The group spreads praise and worship throughout the Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia areas. 

Some of Johnson’s aspirations include to grow as an artist, as a writer, and as a human being. She hopes to someday publish a book of fiction and to become an artistic educator, so that she can push future high school students to discover their talents just as she did.