Each week, Young Writers Project receives several hundred submissions from students in Vermont and New Hampshire in response to writing prompts and selects the best for publication here and in 20 other newspapers and on VPR.net. Read more at youngwritersproject.org, a safe, civil online community of young writers.
Williston students responded to two prompts: write a poem about the below photo; and general writing in any genre.
By Claire McDevitt
Grade 5, Williston Central School
Why? Why are you drawing a flower on the sand if the rain might come?
If the tide might come in?
Will you watch the flower wash away?
Or will you protect the flower so it will be on the sand forever, for everybody to see?
While you draw, the wind blows.
Other pieces of sand go with the wind.
Will your drawing go with the wind?
Will your drawing slowly disappear,
sand grain by sand grain?
All these questions, but no answers.
By Kayleigh Bushweller
Grade 5, Williston Central School
Gown made of silk flapping in the wind
Incredible white sand getting carved into imaginative carvings
Right to left her dark brown hair swings in the wind with all the sand around her
Lying on the hot sand drawing all she can think of
By Maddie Huber
Grade 7, Williston Central School
Sometimes it feels like you can see music notes floating through the air as you press your fingers down on a creamy white key.
The sounds form a funnel cloud around you and then it’s only you, alone, hypnotized by the notes skipping along the page.
It’s like there’s a choir formed when you play music.
The way the keys hit the sound strings creates a vibe that’s like a harmony.
The notes running across the pages look like the happy, cheery voices.
And then there’s me, sitting in the front row. Now there isn’t any room for me in the choir, so I take a seat on a small black bench and let my fingers do the work.
Fading Flowers on a White Brick Wall
By Shea Savage
Williston, Grade 9, Champlain Valley Union High School
Where were you when it happened?
That’s the question I hear most often, when people talk to me about the tragedy that was 9/11. Where was I when it happened? Well, as it happens, I was at daycare. I’m not old enough to remember the day in detail. I am only able to recall the way the towers looked as they crumbled because of the footage they replay every year around this time while the country bows its collective head and brushes away a lingering tear. I’ll be honest with you; I don’t remember the look on my mother’s face during the car ride home when I asked why my teachers were crying while listening to the radio. I don’t remember the mass terror and bone-penetrating sorrow that broke out, a tidal wave ripping its way through the very heart of America. I don’t remember the desperate fear that we would be next to be hit. I don’t remember tears or the imagined smell of smoke that clung to everyone’s noses while they watched the World Trade Center and our country’s peace burn to the ground.
At my school, there is a mural painted on the wall across from the nurse’s office. It’s a field of flowers, all bright oranges and pinks and greens. The colors aren’t as vivid as they used to be, faded with time and wear and the erosion that inevitably comes with being the banks of a river of 9th-12th graders. I passed it without a second glance countless times during my career at CVU so far. It wasn’t until my advisor brought it up, pointed it out, and explained that it was a tribute to the men and women who gave everything that day— our school’s attempt to accept the unacceptable, move beyond one of the most painfully, profoundly wrong moments in American history.
The students whose paintbrushes gave birth to the mural are long gone. They graduated before I was even in elementary school, by now are lawyers or doctors or janitors making their lives in the world. They probably don’t spare a thought to the brushstrokes that I now walk by every day on the way to class. And I didn’t either. Until this week.
9/11 was tragic. It was a staggering blow to who we are as Americans and what we stand for. And the aftermath, the reverberations, of those planes crashing and taking a chunk of America with them will forever echo in the part of our souls that patriotism comes from. But this year, I don’t want to remember it like that. I want to disregard the violence of the day and remember instead of the beauty of our servicemen and women’s dedication and bravery. I want to be proud of how far we have come as a society since. This year, I want to look at the wall of flowers at my school and think about how that one event brought Americans together fully for the first—and only—time in my life. The first and only time in many of our lives. I want to think about students, teenagers who may not have even known anyone affected by the inferno that raged in New York City that day, kneeling on the tiled floors of the hallway and painting rose after rose because it was the only thing they knew how to do, the only way they knew how to say, “Thank you. We remember.”
This piece is a little different from what I’m used to doing. I like to write fiction, fantasy, bizarre stories with magic and figurative language and interesting dialogue. But I stood in the hallway looking at that mural for a moment before being swept away by the tide of high school students and felt, like those painters 11 years ago, that I couldn’t let the day pass with nothing. And so I share with you the only thing I know how to do, the only way I know how to say thank you and that I remember. Maybe not the look on my mother’s face during the car ride home when I asked why my teachers were crying while listening to the radio. Maybe not the mass terror and the bone-penetrating sorrow. Maybe not even the tears.
I remember the loss. I remember the sacrifice. And I will cling to the memory of the fierce pride I feel to be American on the 11th anniversary of September 11th, 2001.
I remember. And I will not forget.
Upcoming Writing Prompts:
Write a piece that begins with the following line: I stood at the window, watching the red tail lights disappear… Try to write this in prose; keep it short. Alternate: Listen. Pick a moment – in the hall at school, in the general store, anywhere – and listen. Choose the most interesting conversation you hear and base a story on it. Due Oct. 26
Tell a narrative about winter in short, descriptive poetry or prose. Use detail to help show some aspect of winter – its darkness, its holidays, its spirit. Avoid clichés – holiday joy, hot chocolate, pink cheeks, etc. Go for something fresh. A few of the best will be selected for presentation by the Vermont Stage Company at its annual Winter Tales production at FlynnSpace in Burlington (Dec. 5-9, 2012). Alternate: Favorite place. What is the special place where you really like to be, where you feel most alive? In a garage working on an automobile? The ice rink? In the woods hunting deer? Playing bass on stage? Imagine yourself there and tell a story about it. Due Nov. 2
YWP Anthology Celebration Oct. 27
Every year, YWP publishes an anthology of the year’s best student writing and photos. On Oct. 27, it will toast the publication of Anthology 4 with a day of celebration and writing workshops in partnership with the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. Included this year are Williston writers Olivia Pintair and Anna Rutenbeck, with work from the 2011-12 school year.
I am Poetry
Lake Champlain Waldorf School,
I am poetry.
I am a thief – I steal your attention.
I seep through the cracks
of your heart,
you cannot dominate.
I am creator of your dreams
and keeper of your soul.
I am a depressed soul
when I long for emotion.
I am a lion’s soul
when I feel strong.
I am your soul
because I am a listener.
I hear the energy of the world around me
that inspires me to be all I am.
I am poetry.
Hear my voice.
I am more real than you.
Champlain Valley Union High School, Grade 12
When you were angry you created one million tiny earthquakes, shaking the house like nothing ever had before.
The aftershocks reverberated from the basement to our bedroom and sometimes I loved it when you were angry.
Loved how the plates sounded crashing on the tile, loved how everything was quiet when you were done, loved how everything was perfect in the moments after the storm because I have always been in love with perfection (even if it exists for only a minute).
Each month, the Williston Observer will print local selections from the Young Writers Project, an independent nonprofit that engages students to write, helps them improve and connects them with authentic audiences.
Teachers and students, from kindergarten through grade 12, are encouraged to participate in Young Writers Project by submitting the best work done in class or outside of school, and by responding to weekly prompts. A team of students, volunteers and YWP staff selects the best work to be published in 20 newspapers in Vermont and New Hampshire and on VPR.net each week.
To post work on youngwritersproject.org, log in, click “Write” to create a blog, fill in the title and body of the work and give it a genre tag. For publication in the Newspaper Series, click “Yes” just below the “Save” button. Fill out the information boxes (prompt, author name, school, grade; author name will not be publicly visible). Don’t forget to click “Save”! Students are also encouraged to upload photos, scanned artwork or audio narrations. More information on youngwritersproject.org.
YWP is supported by this newspaper and foundations, businesses and individuals who recognize the power and value of writing. If you would like to contribute, please go to youngwritersproject.org/support, or mail your donation to YWP, 12 North St., Suite 8, Burlington, VT 05401.