To Be Fearless

9 Aug

Athena confronts the idea of fear in this reflective vignette. She offers commentary on an imagined reality in which one is free of social pressure or distractions. Her writing cleverly balances the daily fears we might carry alongside the freedom of relinquishing these anxieties. Her final lines ring with confidence and challenge her readers to explore this question for themselves. What would you do if you had no fear?

Katelin Kelly
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Shadows

What would I do if I had no fear?

I would skydive from above cotton candy clouds, and I would swim side by side with dolphins against the harsh waves. I would trek through a mossy rainforest and ski down the steepest slopes. I would shout my beliefs to the world.

And I would do so without having a sinking feeling in my stomach, without having slippery palms.

I would do everything I want, and there would be no looming prospect of death, no possibility of humiliation shading my vision.

I would have the ability to live in the moment as it is, instead of feeling flames tickling my cheeks. I would feel brave and alive. I would feel adrenaline coursing through my body, and the claws of a strong wind digging into my face.

If I had no fear, I would be free to accept my life as it is laid down before me.

Athena Luo
6th grade

Journey Through Time

9 Aug

Pooja was born in the winter, a fact that guides her exploration in this haiku sequence. Each poem assigns a signature sonic quality to a season, allowing the reader to move through a full year of silence and echo. The imaginative qualities of these poems open up spaces for reflection, experience, and humor as Pooja gives us a forecast for the seasons yet to come.

Katelin Kelly
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Haiku Series

Beautiful crystals,
memories drift leaf by leaf,
cold, dead, brisk, damp blow.

Someone screwed-in rain,
purple majesty mountains,
sunny meadow glow.

Hot, sizzling, zzzz,
bacon burgers taste my mouth.
Hot air surrounds me.

Shady and chilly,
leaves fall in many piles,
partly cloudy skies.

Pooka Kulkarni
5th grade

All the Many Greens

6 Aug

Ava gives us a meditative glimpse into the history of the color green, after Linda Hogan’s “History of Red.” Ava tracks the color green from its primordial beginnings to its outer space mysteries, then back down to earth to make poignant commentary on how we have misused green with our commodified greens and polluted greens. If the dinosaur didn’t know its fate, do we? Ava’s poem inspires us to consider the circular and all-encompassing nature of green.

Katrina Goudey
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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The History of Green

Sometimes I look back
At my brother’s glossy book,
And large teeth bare before me,
Snapping down to reveal thick green scales.
They cover a restless predator
Lurking within the bright green leaves:
The Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Does he know his fate?
And how does a green cloud of pain mist her eyes as the world falls?
Much later, a vision reveals itself,
Haunting, green.
The aurora borealis shimmering and flickering, green
Against twisted trees of lost time.
Time passes through the years
Yet the green grass is always there.
Hands work hard to fly, leaving this,
This green grass.
Rings of Saturn glowing, exotic colors, but the base
Is always green, the rocket light years away.
A green-haired girl walking, green phone case,
Black lipstick, and piercings.
She does not see the vibrant green around her,
Her phone blocking it all out, green polluting,
Shooting into the sky from the nearest factory.
Look at this green; is the wild dinosaur destroying Earth’s beauty?
Time has changed our green.

Ava Masterson

Poem of Many Questions

3 Aug

Julia’s call-and-response poem is truly a haunting echo. Originally inspired by an image of a dolphin, the poem now omits the nature of the subject and object, and what began as dolphin becomes universal memory. This poem could be about any person we once knew and once questioned, or it could be the voice in our mind, speaking to our own lost inner self. Julia’s poem “Why?” leaves every possibility open, allowing the reader to see what this mirror shows them.

Katrina Goudey
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Why?

Why do they treat you that way? Why? Do they do it on purpose?
Why do you hide your feelings? Why? Are they the reason for that?
Why do you let them treat you that way? Why? Do you want to be treated like that?
Why have you become like them? Why? Was this your goal the whole time? It’s better to be hated than loved for what you’re not.
Why did you choose them over me?
Why?

Julia Cramer

Blue, Bluer, Bluest

22 Jul

Sohpia’s  color poem speaks to the nature of blue balance: what is the sky to us, the ocean to us, and what are the sky and ocean to each other? At once symbols and literal forces of nature, their perilous and wondrous influence on the drama of human history is gently recorded in these short lines. At the end of the poem, it is clear that one cannot live without the other.

Katrina Goudey
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Color Poem: Blue Mirrors

The ocean mirrors the sky.
Storms rush in the depths of one and the heights of the other.
The sky is reflected in the ocean.
One is wisdom, one is freedom.
Both can be deadly.
Both can pull someone away and engulf them.
Both give and take.
Both can bring wonder.
Both can bring adventure.
One is a reflection of the other.
The sky is seen in the ocean,
And the ocean mirrors the sky.

Sophia Newmark

Curious and Curiouser

20 Jul

What is creative writing? Why is it important? Over five days, these Badgerdog creative writing summer campers answered those questions with thoughtful discussions and craft exercises that brought their imaginations to life on and off the page. Each day was packed with literary expression that yielded craft essays, creative nonfiction, fiction, fantasy, science fiction, horror, screenplays, and poetry. Even our daily breaks centered around fun word games like Bananagrams and Haiku Deathmatch. As you read their work, notice the detailed images that build new worlds in prose and the attention to line structure and form across their poems. It was a joy working with such curious writers who enjoy writing, came to the page with a playful spirit, and committed to showing up and writing it all down.

Amanda Johnston
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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Game

Life is a game.
Everything is based on one
Good or bad decision taken.
Whether you will be the richest of
The world, wearing gold bars
And eating without making a choice about
Who to feed
Or if you will be not
As privileged, wearing
Rags and choosing who
To feed in a family.
It is based on one
Important decision.
Make your decision a
Good one.

Chaitanya Bokka

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A World Away from World

At a secret set of coordinates in the ocean, there are eight portals that open up right at the crack of dusk and dawn. Every night, a different portal opens up. If you don’t make it out to the real world at dawn, you will be lost there (where you are) for a year and a week until the portal opens up again.

Once you exit the different world, you will end up in, another portal of the same color, not the portal you came from. Every Earth day (about 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 months in portal time), the portal opens up in a different spot in its world. There are four portals you can enter and four portals where you will exit. Each portal opens up a different world, and one earth night is about 2 ½ – 3 weeks, so be prepared or you could die there.

The first world is full of life and color and friendly animals. This world is meant not to be touched by the greedy and maniacal souls of the world. You may only enter if your soul is pure. You can get here through the green portal. The second portal, the blue one, is a world with five moons and never-ending night. You may think that without a sun, there’d be no light, but the moons are little individual suns themselves, not shedding pure white light, but blue moonlight, and reflecting off each other. These moons do not revolve normally, but stay the same distance from each other in pentagonal prisms.

There is one world that is up in a sky with beautiful hills as far as the eye can see. This world contains a naturalist civilization that lives in harmony with nature. No pollution, no buildings, but rather large huts and underground passageways. It is said that every single traveler or adventurer to ever visit this world has never returned. It can’t possibly be the civilization that took them out, but the journey one must take to get there. The journey has steep cliffs and large plateaus and one must simply know where they are going or, like I said, you will get lost in the orange portal.

And the last world through the red portal is unseen and untouched by anyone. It could be the portal to hell or a passage to immortality or heaven. No one knew until now.

An explorer by the name of Elario decides to go in and explore. Elario is in one of the few families who know about the portals, and one of even fewer who have explored the portals and came back alive. He lives in a two-story, three-bedroom, and four-bathroom house. He is an executive foreman at an underground construction company. He gets paid $20,000 a week, so he has a good life. He spends his vacations visiting the green world.

The families who know about the portals are part of a secret society (not like the one in the orange portal). It’s a society as old as time, and shrinking in numbers. It began when one Mexican family, one African family, and the last American family got lost in the orange portal.

Elario lives with his parents, his wife Maria, and his son and daughter. His son and daughter are the best of friends. Their names are Serina and Rodrigo. When Elario is traveling, his brother Arturo helps Maria with the kids. As for the African family, they stopped exploring the portals because they felt it was becoming too dangerous and risky. Keep in mind that traveling through these portals is like time-travel because one day on the other side is almost two weeks in the portals. The last of the American family is one single man by the name of John. He is the one aging as we speak in the orange portal.

The only way to get to the portals is by boat. As Elario prepares, he rents a fishing boat from a boating service and has his brother take him. Now, they are at the location and Elario is saying his goodbyes. For the first time in the history of the society, someone has jumped into the red portal.

Vince Guerra

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Icen

I lived in a place called Icen. It was so cold that the water froze. Not many people lived there. There was only one building.

Once, with the class, we went outside. If you don’t know, there is a legend in Icen. A long time ago, there were two people. When they were living, this place was warm, though it had to be hidden from other people. The two people went to the outside world and told them about Icen. They were sent back to Icen and turned into two stones that would keep Icen from getting too cold and from being discovered.

Our class went outside and climbed the mountain and talked about the two stones.

“Will it be big?” Jin asked.

“I don’t know,” Sana said.

We decided to find the two stones to save Icen.

The next day, a girl named Icen came. She looked like she had a secret. What could it be? After school, we climbed the mountain and talked about the two stones.

“I think I know where it is,” Icen said. “There’s a hole at the top of the mountain. Inside, there’s a box that holds the two stones together.”

“OK! Let’s go!” Sana said.

We went to the very top of the mountain. There was a lot of smoke and it was hard to see. The wind was blowing, and it was hard to move.

“It’s there!” Icen said.

We got the two stones and then everything started to melt. Everything was green. A happy green! Then the ground started to melt. It was starting to melt Icen. Ahhhhh!

Nahyeon Park

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The Witch’s Spell Book

I saw her, the witch       her face full of rage
She cut off his fingers       because he ripped off a single page
She knew he would not last        there were no spells she could cast
She threw him across the room real fast        then her spell book started to blast
She ran away and left us to die        then we heard her evil laugh
We got scared and started to cry        when I found my brother he was cut in half

Michaelian Trachtenberg

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Rainbows

It comes after sadness
After rain pouring down
With the perfect amount
Of rain and sun
It forms
Red: like the big beach ball bouncing at the beach
Orange: like the adventurous animals aiming to get attention
Yellow: like the sunny seaside sand
Green: like the wet weeds waving under the waves
Blue: like the sky soaring safely on a summer’s day
Indigo: like the ocean observing over all the octopus
Violet: like the umbrellas of the underwater people
All shining next to
The sun and clouds
Calling for attention
Creating happiness

Anusha Razdan

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My Body

My eyes, a map to guide me.
My mouth, a speaker calling out for all to hear.
My ears, a vortex sucking in sound.
My arms, a weapon to defend me.
My hands, a masterpiece creating works of art.
My back, a strength for me to rely on.
My legs, a cane to keep me steady.
My feet, a possibility to roam the earth.
But my brain, wisdom beyond compare.
And my life, a beacon of hope.

Thomas Mazzurana

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Literature

Read me like an open book,
Break my spine and throw me away.
In between the lines, you took
My path to our yesterday.

My tears pool a waterfall,
Rivers on these dead pages.
Run me an ocean of grief. You call,
I’m willing to drown.

Every bitter thing you said
Imprisoned, caged within my head,
Left it typed in black and white,
All your hate and all your spite.

All of it there, in black and white:
All of your shades of gray.

Lily Sayre

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Happy

Out in the cold, cold thin air
Between two tombs where you … despair
Under the ground where your loved ones sit
Six feet under they shall not shift
You want to be with them
You want to be dead
A million thoughts go through your head
The cold is rushing
The wind is strong
Suddenly you realize what is wrong
You lay on the ground you remove your coat
Now you feel nothing but you see a boat
It drifts down the River Styx
And your mind’s thoughts begin to drift
You don’t care so there you lie
You are happy to go, happy to die

Amira Mckaige

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Time

The grass glows green
The sun shines light
The sky is blue and bright
Full of life and air
A cool breeze through your hair
The fluttering of butterflies
How fast time can fly by

The leaves fall fast
The tree is bare
Too cold to last through the night

The flowers bloom
The birds all sing
Now it’s time to go back to spring

Lauren Larracas

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Bored T.V.

sitting there                  still as a stone
staring at people         writing and laughing
coming and going       never moving
never on                        always off
this is                             no feelings
a sad T.V.                      a bored T.V.

Abram Smith

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Sisters

“Does this even count as a house?” Ivy scoffed, her eyes circling the Victorian-looking house like a hawk stalking its prey. Her mother, Grace, gave Ivy a little punch on her shoulder from behind. “Ow…” Ivy said, turning around, meeting her mother’s eyes.

“It’s the start of our new life, Ivy,” Grace said with a hint of sadness in her voice. Ivy knew how much her mother liked their old house, but the memories of her dad were horrifying.

Ivy gazed up upon the house, observing its surroundings. The Victorian-like house stood on dead grass, surrounded by leafless trees. Ivy looked back toward her mother again, observing her face, slightly full of regret.

Suddenly, the back door of the gray minivan slowly lifted up, and her older sister, Raven, tumbled out of it. Ivy wasn’t surprised, since Raven had always been accident-prone. Raven quickly got up and sprinted toward the house, her long, jet-black hair bouncing up and down. Her quick movements broke Ivy and Grace out of a daze, making them speed walk toward the front door.

After a few failed attempts to open the door, they finally got into the house. The house was sparkling clean, looking as if someone had cleaned it every day. “This house hasn’t been touched in six years…” Grace said, confused. Suddenly, Ivy heard a skittering sound upstairs and saw Raven sprinting to her room–or, well, what Ivy thought was her room. As her mother picked up the phone to answer a call, Ivy hurried upstairs to find out which room Raven had chosen.

Ivy softly walked down the hallway and found a slightly opened door, figuring it was Raven’s room. She reached for the doorknob and opened the door, making a high-pitched noise that echoed down the hallway. A sudden blast of cold air shocked Ivy, giving her unwanted goosebumps. Creeped out, she closed the door, not wanting to go back in. Suddenly, she saw Raven at the end of the hallway, her hair covering her face. “Raven?” Ivy asked. Raven didn’t reply. Curious, Ivy slowly tiptoed toward her. Raven didn’t move. Ivy groaned, hating her sister’s attitude. “Come on Rav…” Ivy started “Who’s Raven?” it answered.

Olivia Fisher

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The Barn

One day, there was an ordinary barn. Or so you thought. The barn was big and red from the outside. Mysterious things would happen in that barn. Animals would vanish, food would disappear, and people would leave the barn crazy and obsessed with it. After these strange things occurred, the government sent people to destroy it, but they too came back super crazy. So then the government locked the barn doors. Years after that incident, a strange man with red eyes convinced John that he should enter the barn. John thought that the man was very weird. He had red eyes, didn’t know his name, and would only talk about the barn. But John still listened to him. When John went to ask the government if he could enter the barn, they said no in an instant. John wouldn’t give up, so he went to buy a chainsaw to cut open the lock. He went into the barn, and the doors shut behind him. When he looked around inside, there was a table with four chairs around it and six pieces of paper on it. John tried to unscramble the letters, but was too late. His eyes turned red suddenly. He left the barn crazy, looking for someone to bring to the barn.

Lucas Li

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Wakeboard Camp

When I arrived at the building to sign-in for my wakeboarding camp Monday morning, I knew it was the start of a great week. When I got inside, I recognized two people: Andy and Matt, a.k.a. Bear. (Bear says he got his nickname when he was “eaten by a bear.”)

Later, when we got on the pontoon, I didn’t notice Charlie or Katy. Charlie and Katy had been there every year I had gone to that camp. When I asked about them, Andy said they had gone to college. There were three guys I hadn’t seen: William, Wilson, and Cullen.

That day, every time I got on the wakeboard, I just practiced jumping the wake. On Tuesday, I asked Matt to double with me so I could practice my 180. By the end of that day, I had almost nailed it, but I had also face-planted at least four or five times. Wednesday I doubled with Andy, Wilson, and Cullen. I wanted to do an exit 180, which is a 180 in midair, but first I needed to learn how to clear the wake. Each of them gave me some good tips. I doubled with a kid named Gage, but we accidentally collided. I also doubled with William’s brother, John Henry. When I was by myself, I went by the dam.

I was trying to clear the wake when the front tip of my board caught. I face-planted harder than I had that whole week, but I kept going because I didn’t want to give up. The next day, we were going to have a show at 3:00 p.m. when parents could come watch you show off. I was jumping off the top of the pontoon when they called me and told me it was my turn. During the show, I did three 180s and cleared the wake a few times. After camp was over, we thanked the counselors and left. I can’t wait to go back. I had so much fun!

Bonnie Daywood

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Carpet Factory

Born to a river, raised by the sea
Life’s simple passive pleasures flow by me

The Force of Fire
Stolen by flames
Away from my village
Heading towards pain

Mountains and blue jays
Fill me with rage
Why am I here
Trapped in this cage

Thrown out of the robot
With circles for legs
Into the building
I think that’s how it’s said

Threading and threading
My family is gone
Under over under
No break until dawn

No laughter, no smiles
Only the work that consumes me
I want to escape but I’m stuck

In their circle
Their circle of greed
I miss life’s simple treasures
Like planting a seed
But I am forever stuck in the
Carpet factory

Anika Chokhavatia

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Memory Tree

Lilac walked up to the tree and looked up at its many branches. She thought it was amazing how one tree could have so many limbs, so many segments that made up one huge tree. There was the trunk, sturdy and strong, like a father you can rest against. There were branches, comfortable and reliable, like a mother who will hold you in her arms. There were the roots, holding the tree in place, growing and discovering like a sibling or friend, supporting you. And then there were the petals.

There was a special feeling that connected Lilac to this tree and she intend to find out what that was. She sat and leaned against the tree. She looked up at the branches and watched the swirling petals. There were so many different petals. They weren’t all perfect, but Lilac thought that together they made the tree even more beautiful. She stood up and felt one of the petals on the lowest branch.

Slowly, the world around her melted away and was replaced with a familiar place, one she hardly remembered. She realized it was her room, but back when it was a nursery. She glanced down at the crib, where her bed usually was. In the crib a baby girl was looking sleepily up at the mobile hanging above her crib. With a jolt, Lilac realized the baby was her.

Baby Lilac started crying and Lilac went to comfort her, but in this place–a memory she was reliving, Lilac guessed–she couldn’t be seen by the baby or by her parents, who walked in a moment later. Her parents went over to the crib, picked up the baby, and rocked her back and forth, trying to calm the crying.

The scene melted away, leaving the teary-eyed baby and Lilac’s slightly younger parents behind. Unsure of what she’d just seen, she brushed her hand through the other petals and saw glimpses of her earliest years, scenes of crying and sleeping and a few precious baby laughs.

She reached higher for the other branches and felt the soft petals. These were of her toddler years. She soon discovered that the higher she adventured the newer the memories became. She had soon climbed to the highest reaches of the tree and, feeling the petals nearest, recognized a memory from the previous week.

The sky darkened when she looked up from her memory tree, and Lilac decided to leave, but resolved to come back as soon as she could to relive more memories. She was sure she would never tell another living soul about this place she had discovered.

Sara Sagues

The Snowball Fighters

19 Jul
In just one week, our community of writers travelled to Egypt, escaped tigers in the forest, time-traveled to World War II, and swam with hammerhead sharks in the coral reef. Working in a group brings a writer’s imagination to life and provides much-needed support to take risks. These young writers inspired me every day and never hesitated to put pen to paper. I am lucky to have spent time with such special young people, and I know you will enjoy their work.

Kelsey Shipman
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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The White Pumpkin

It was a dark and stormy night. A crescent moon hovered above, and lava fell from the sky. The devil flew out through a portal in the lava. The Tremendous 3 were ready to defeat him at last. They pulled out their swords out, ready to destroy, when a pit scorpion army came charging over the hill.

“Devil or scorpion army?” Rocky said to himself.

“Scorpions!” Boomer said and led them through the scorpions.

“Into the mansion!” Captain Sparkles said with confidence.

As they entered the main hall, four more people emerged and everyone’s portrait ­– including The Tremendous 3 – became one.

Then the lights went out and someone said, “Greetings, fellows. I am the White Pumpkin. I hope you know how circuit traps work because they’re everywhere!” Then the front door locked and the windows sealed.

Just then, somebody screamed, the lights came back on, and someone was gone. They looked at the portrait and there was a red “X” over his face.

To Be Continued . . .

Ryan Vest

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Egyptian Trials

I walk through the intense, sandy desert. I keep pushing myself to go on. It was summer when my sister and I got lost in the desert. We had been trying to find water for weeks. All of a sudden, a village appeared. We didn’t know if it was déjà vu tricking us, or if it was real. We had decided it was real and walked over to the village quickly.

We could feel the hot, scorching sun beating on our skin. As soon as we walked into the village, we saw a giant pot of water. And I thought the desert was waterless and uninhabited.

Someone came out of the village. She signaled for us to follow her, so we did. She led us into a mysterious room. It was filled with tons of food, water, and ancient artifacts. The woman said, “Wait!” and walked away.

My sister Camille and I started to stuff our faces with food. Then a man appeared and said, “I know you’ve been looking for your family. We have been waiting for you.”

“Who’s we?” I mumbled to myself.

“I see you’ve started eating. If you want to find your family, you must go through ten trials. Now go to bed. The sky is getting dark.”

***

“Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!”

“Camille, I’m up!” I could smell a crisp scent. It smelled like fire. It looked like we were in a dungeon. There was a shovel and a letter. It said: Cleo’s prized possession. Find it before the sand turns burnt orange, when the sun rises from dawn, or this will be the end. The end is just the beginning.

Maya Hay

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Running Away

I’m running through the jungle trying to get away from the tiger chasing me. I see lots of trees and bushes. The air is so hot and humid that all my clothes are stuck to my body, but the sun is hidden behind a wall of clouds in the sky. Next to me is my best friend Avery. She has dark, long hair with tan skin. She’s running alongside me, away from the tiger.

We slow to a jog and see two different paths. One has no trees and barely any growth ­– great for running but no available space to hide. The path leading in the opposite direction has many trees and lots of growth.

“What path should we pick?” Avery asks me.

“I don’t know, but we need to pick it fast,” I reply.

“Let’s go this way,” Avery says jogging towards the overgrown path.

“Okay,” I say. “This path will provide us lots of cover to hide.”

But about ten minutes later, we wee a giant boulder blocking the path and any way around it.

“How do we get around it?” I ask.

“I don’t know,” Avery replies. “Maybe we should climb?”

“I don’t know if we could get up and over it.”

“Well, it seems to me that it’s the only way to keep going.”

We somehow successfully get over the boulder and keep going. After about five minutes, it suddenly starts to pour, making us even more wet. Miserably, we continue jogging until we are in a clearing with no trees but only tall grass. In the middle of the clearing, we see a man facing our direction cloaked in a robe. Slowing to a walk, we stand about five feet away from the man. He suddenly opens his eyes and says, “Congratulations, you have reached Holly Point.”

Scotty Ploeger

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Sally the Sea Monster

Sally the sea monster’s birthday is here!
The people on the shore give a big cheer,
rush to the store
and buy candles and cake galore!
Quivering and shivering, they give a call,
so afraid that they will get mauled.
She towers over them all,
she is so tall.
Taller than the Trojan Horse,
it is her 100th birthday, of course!

Elle Vickey

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Underwater Adventure

Plunging under water, I suddenly saw a sight quite different from the diving point. Coral as far as the eye could see, in vivid colors, from white to bright pink. The coral provided a safe and protected area for fish and other aquatic prey to hide from dangerous predators. The coral came in different shapes, with some beautifully carved into a curve, and others with thick spines.

The scenic area was calm with few disturbances. It was no more than three seconds after I had this thought that I saw hundreds of ripples in the once tranquil water above me. Three full-sized hammerheads had sensed me in the water and were aiming for human leg soup! Experiencing a thrill of fear and excitement, I started swimming frantically toward the surface, forgetting about the sharks. Ten feet from the surface, I finally regained the reality of the threat. The hammerheads didn’t seem so interested in me anymore. They had spotted a rather large catfish and were raring to go after it.

Relieved, I continued my exploration of the ocean floor. I found many news things, like a clump of seaweed floating peacefully in the upper waters and an otter basking in the shallows. But what intrigued me the most was a metal piece poking out of the water like the mast of a ship. I followed it down and saw the ship’s hull, which had a huge hole in it, perhaps from a cannon ball. I started exploring it and found a beautiful lump of mineral that looked like a block of gold preserved for five decades in this sandy grave.

I started looking outside the ship for more treasure. Then I noticed a desk on the deck of the ship painted in vivid colors. That’s when I woke up to my alarm clock and wished I hadn’t eaten so much before bed.

Arnav Batra

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Lost

I was in a rainforest with waterfalls surrounding me and rain pouring down over the tall trees. I saw three huge birds flying from tree to tree. I was very cold. The green grass felt wet and damp on my feet. My faithful companion, Mary the monkey, was perched up on my head scratching my hair.

I looked up to see Mary pointing at a long trail. I hoped that it would get us out of the forest because I was lost and needed to find my house on the outskirts. As I was saying, Mary hopped down and started to walk slowly along the trail so I could catch up.

“Good job, Mary!” I exclaimed as I gave her a bright banana I found. We chose this path hoping to find our way back home. Suddenly, Mary stopped. I was curious to see what was going on. Both of us stared at the long river. There were huge trees against the banks of the river. I knew what I had to do. Mary and I gathered some firewood and bark. We planned to make a boat.

I gently placed all of the wood side-by-side on the grass. We found a rope on the way that someone probably left behind. Mary was a smart monkey, so she tied up the wood and bark together. The next thing you knew, we were sailing across the river. As soon as we crossed the river, the sun came out, and Mary and I felt thirsty. We spotted a shady clearing to sit down and take a break.

Then, I saw him. A man about forty years old was standing there offering us water. I ran and grabbed at the jug, and soon it was empty. He asked me, “So, where are you headed?”

“Home,” I replied. Then the man just vanished into thin air.

Mary and I tried searching for him, but he really was gone. Then something terrible was happening. The ground began to shake. The Earth said, “Honey, wake up.” I opened my eyes to see my mom shaking me awake! I was having a dream! I raced outside to see the forest. The same man I saw in the forest earlier came outside and winked at me! Could it be?

Neeraja Sankrit

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Death Zone

Two days – two day! – to get out of this lonely sand trap. In two days, it will be my birthday and if I’m not home in two days, my life will be gone, useless, dead.

I look around for some hope of a way back home, but all I see is an empty, quiet desert. There’s sand in every direction for miles around. The only thing here besides the sand is the sky, but even the sky is empty – not one star.

The sun has set and I need to set up camp for the night. I look around to find a rock, or anything but sand to sleep on, yet there is nothing.

I decide not to sleep tonight because in the morning there will only be one day left until my parents let me live on my own, but if I’m not there, I will live with them forever.

I keep walking, trying not to think about what will happen if I can’t get back in time.

The desert is a very intense place to be. It’s like it can never make up its mind. In the daytime, it’s boiling hot and peaceful. But in the night, it gets chilly and very windy. But it is always dry.

Tonight is especially windy. The sand is blowing up into my eyes, making it very hard to see.

I keep walking to – I have no clue where. I think by now it must be midnight. Tomorrow is my birthday, yet time doesn’t really matter here in this sandy mess. It doesn’t really matter to me anymore. There is nothing in this place but untouched sand. I’m losing all hope. There is no way out.

I close my eyes and lay down. I let the wind carry the sand across my body. And I fall asleep. Forever.

Barbie Burgett

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The March

The waves crashed against the battered sand. Kids laughed as the water splashed around them. The wind started to pick up speed, tossing girls’ hair in their faces. The clouds turned gray. I looked over at Katrina, trying to figure out if she’d seen the weather change.

As we walked along the beach, we saw a pathway that went in the direction we were headed. Suddenly, Kat started walking a bit faster. Instantly, she broke into a full-on sprint.

“Kat!” I yelled. I sprinted to catch up with her. Then I heard thunder. I assumed it was the sky, but I was wrong. It seemed as if everybody on the beach was charging after us. Finally, I caught up to Kat. I knew I would because she was quite a bit smaller than me. I was about to talk to her when I realized I was completely and totally out of breath. I stopped to take a break. Fifty people appeared in front of me. They were in between Kat and me. I started to run again. This time I dodged the people. Finally, I reached Kat.

Lightning struck down in the woods, which had just recently recovered from a wildfire. The trees burst into all different shades of reds, oranges, yellows, and even some blues.

If only I had my camera with me now. We were heading straight towards the woods. Every person on the beach seemed as if they were in a coma, heading straight towards the fire. The closer we got, the louder and hotter it became. Suddenly, I couldn’t run anymore. I stepped out of the pathway and observed what was happening. Everyone was running in a synchronized fashion, moving closer and closer to the fire. No one was able to be themselves. Then, just like that, the forest disappeared. Strange.

Now, I finally saw what was doing this. It was actually a who.

To Be Continued. . .

Allie Shepherd

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Home

The blue sky, white sand. The glistening ocean. Yes, this will be the place – the place I will call home. The wind blowing so softly on my face. This is perfect. Well, not with my brother.

On the fifth day, I take a walk along the shore, when suddenly a huge wave splashes on me. But I don’t get wet. And if that’s not strange enough, the waves split, forming a path underwater. I decide to follow the path down into the depths of the ocean.

Oddly, I can breathe. Suddenly, I hear a loud thump behind me. I turn around and see my brother sliding down the steps. How did he get here? No point in asking – he’ll start talking some mumbo-jumbo nonsense.

Suddenly, the path is blocked by a big boulder. I think of going around it, but then I won’t be able to breathe. Then it hits me – no, not the rock. My brother! He pushes me right through the rock. Then, once I come out the other side of the rock, I’m hit by a gust of water. I keep on walking down until I come across a clearing. I see someone swimming around – actually, more like standing. A mermaid! I quickly swim up to her and ask, “What is this place?”

She replies, “Ah, you have finally arrived.”

For what? I wondered. She snaps her fingers and a huge castle emerges from the ground.

“It’s your time, child. Rule us well,” says the mermaid.

Mark Menezes

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Horse

Those spunky animals,
always looking to play,
usually working hard.
But when they get a minute,
they don’t waste a second.
Not very easily distracted at work,
but at home they easily whip up a storm!

Very humble creature on top,
sometimes stress-relieving,
never abused.
Always looking for new traits and tricks,
basically anything to get away from…
Farmer Joe!

Adriana Guerra

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The Life

“Phum! Phum!” went the speeding, spinning bullets of the gun. The sweaty, tired soldiers were training for World War II, which they knew was just around the corner. One soldier felt the urge to speak up and say they shouldn’t fight, but that would cause trouble. All the soldiers climbed into the trucks. Even that one soldier knew what he had to do – jump out of the truck.

Soon afterwards, they were about ten miles from La PaPa, when the one soldier jumped out. No one seemed to notice because all of them looked as if they were napping. “Uh!” Soft grass caught him.

“Buh! Buh!” There was a very weird sound, as though it might be an instrument. For a second, the soldier thought it was music in heaven. About a mile up the road was a large violin making a strange sound. It looked like someone had just thrown it away and abandoned it. He picked it up and took it with him to town. About a half a day later, the soldier arrived in town with his violin. It looked to be 10:45 a.m., and he was exhausted. He took some money out of his pocket and went down the street. He checked into a hotel for two days. He knew he had to make money to get to his town.

The next morning, the soldier went to go and look for a job. HE walked right into a store with a sign that said: “Help Wanted.” But he slipped on the ground! He looked under him, and he must have slipped on a green, wet pear. He got up and asked the cashier if they still needed people, and she said yes.

One Week Later . . .

The soldier really enjoyed his job and decided to live there. He lived happily ever after.

Owen Shafer

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Paradise

“Camping, camping, camping. It had to be camping…” I groaned as the car skidded to a stop. We got out of the car, and that was the start of our one week – a tech-free camping trip.

My sister and I set up our large, turquoise tent. We put our stuff inside and went exploring. We passed some trees and came to a clearing. The view was breathtaking. I felt as if the forest were welcoming us.

Suddenly, we heard my dad calling us. “McKenzie, Jessie! Dinner time!” We ran back to the campsite and gobbled down our dinner.

The next day, I woke with a start and ran to our hideaway. No one was there. I went back to the campsite and saw my sister sprawled on the ground, unconscious near a poisonous snake. “Mom! Dad!” I screamed. They, along with my older brother, ran over. They saw my older sister and almost fainted.

My brother, a brainiac, showed us a picture of a flower that would cure her bite. “I’ve seen that before!” I exclaimed. “When Mom took me hiking, it was on top of that mountain.”

I started climbing up the mountain. Halfway up, I was dripping with sweat. “You can do it!” my mom encouraged me from her position above me. We finally reached the top! I grabbed the flower, put it in my pouch, and started repelling down. I got the flower!

Shreya Selvaraju

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