STUDENT Lee Song Yang, 15, has had his letters published in The Straits Times Forum page five times this year, on topics ranging from the importance of studying humanities subjects to the need for more internship opportunities for students.
His letters caught the attention of not just his peers, but also his school's head of department for humanities, who praised him for his good writing and for being a role model.
"I was quite surprised that out of so many letters, mine got chosen," said the Secondary 3 Geylang Methodist School (Secondary) student.
"I wanted to air my views in the Forum page because it caters to a varied audience."
He was among a group of young people and their parents at the first Straits Times Young Forum Writers' Gathering yesterday.
The free session at the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) News Centre in Toa Payoh North hopes to encourage those below the age of 21 to write in.
In fact, in April last year, the paper started the Youth Forum, a space that showcases the views of younger readers every Wednesday.
Yesterday's session is part of a two- day series of Forum dialogues which is expected to draw more than 300 Forum writers in all.
The next session will take place today at the SPH auditorium.
From January to September this year, The Straits Times received 79 Youth Forum letters, and its youngest contributor was aged 11.
Yesterday's session sparked off a lively discussion.
Secondary 3 Nanyang Girls' High School student Elizabeth Yeo, 14, for instance, asked how the paper decides which Forum letters to publish, given that about 120 letters are received a week.
Addressing this "popular question", Forum editor Jack Hee said writers have a good chance as long as they are logical and argue their points well.
Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez added: "We're looking for a diversity of views, new ideas and a fresh take on the subject. So long as the letter makes a good point... we're quite happy to run it."
Another talking point was how more young people could be encouraged to read the newspapers.
The young writers suggested including more infographics and diagrams, and tapping social media, for instance.