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All American Concerns

13 Apr

Last fall, we (at Badgerdog) had the pleasure of partnering with Ms. Minde and her students at KIPP Austin Collegiate to explore the novel All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. The novel explores how an urban community is affected in the wake of the shooting of a young black man by a white police officer. Teaching Artist Eva Suter helped students articulate their responses to the novel’s difficult and tragic story using various art forms–visual, auditory, and written.  Students created this collection of thoughtful interpretations and reflections about the story and what it means to fight for equal justice and protection.

Cecily Sailer
Badgerdog Programs Director

Solidarity

I just heard him reading out loud those meaningful words that speak to everyone who has been bothered before. Many others started to join in. The teacher was crying. She looked up with puffy, red eyes. She had the biggest owl eyes, and she looked really shocked. We haven’t be able to do anything during class since… Well, no need to mention it. It’s split the school into three parts — no longer a community but a war against each other. But no. We’re not going to take this anymore. There has been a rumor about a march to stand up to police brutality. This has made a huge impact in the school. It made me think and see how this event made many people join forces, and how, as high school students, we can take a step and improve the world for ourselves. Slowly, I stand up and start reading and make my voice as clear and loud as I can and make sure that they know I am with them.

Mariela Bueno

If You Don’t Stand for Something…

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Hillary and Christian

If a Book Were a Song

In this inventive response to All American Boys, Ricardo creates an instrumental song that captures the emotional tone of the novel.

Ricardo Perez Gonzalez

Rashad and Reality

Safety is an issue causing shock and fear within communities. Rashad gets brutally beaten by Officer Paul, just like most teens are constantly getting attacked by officers. Rashad knew how to react when being attacked by an officer; however, most kids don’t know how. When Rashad was being attacked by Officer Paul, he felt hopeless and alone. There was nobody there who was willing to help him. In reality, teenagers tend to feel more pain and fright when being attacked, since they know nobody will have the courage to stand up and help.

Rashad was falsely accused of robbery and resisting arrest. To make matters worse, he was sent to the hospital with severe injuries. Although Rashad started to feel hopeless, like he might not survive, that didn’t stop him from fighting for his life. Since he was bodyslammed to the ground multiple times, he was lucky to survive such a brutal attack. So many bodyslams like those can cause severe internal bleeding in the brain or a concussion, which can sadly lead to death. Teenagers fight for survival when being harshly attacked by officers. Many teens risks their lives every time they step out of their homes, and many families get heartbroken by loss of a family member.

Gisel Hdz

Character Study

Axel Ramirez

A Collapse of Justice

Jennifer Castillo and Yolanda Morales

What Reality Is It?

I can’t believe what’s happening. I knew Paul. Well, kind of. I always saw him with that white kid, Quin? He seemed like a nice guy, but what they’re saying is way different than what his looks makes me think. I couldn’t believe what the people were saying. My parents say Paul is a respectable white man who was helping out his community and the black kid, Rashaad, was in the wrong. I believed them until I saw the video. It looked too real to be faked, and the hits he took in the video do line up with what his friends are saying. But why? I asked my parents, but they responded with the same thing. My mom said that she had talked with Paul’s mom and she said that all of this was a misunderstanding, that her Paul could not be capable of something like that. My mom says I shouldn’t be around the colored kids because they’re trouble. Something is still gnawing at me, and I can’t shake it off. I’m starting to question a lot of the things I’m being told. Most are the same things: “Those black kids are to no good. Paul had a reason to do what he did.” I do not believe what the people around me are saying because what I have seen and heard in school is making me see that what my parents are saying is not true. But that means I’m going against what my parents are saying. What should I do? Do what I feel is right, or do what everyone else is saying?

Samantha Amaya

Shots Ring Out

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Bryan Osorio

Traveling Back in Time

This story takes place in Virginia during the Civil War (near the end). Cameron is a sixteen-year-old black male who has been living in the south for most of his life. Now that the Thirteenth Amendment has been ratified, he is now considered a free man. But the white folks still control and limit the movements of the freedmen.

Cameron is excited to use his new freedoms and decides to put them into action. His close family and friends tell him to be cautious, but he doesn’t think it’s going to be a big issue and he leaves. In the streets, white people give him nasty looks and keep their distance from him. This doesn’t come as a surprise to him; he’s always been treated that way.

A week after the Thirteenth Amendment has been put in place, everything starts to fall apart. African Americans are being treated with so much disrespect, it’s like they are slaves again. Cameron doesn’t like this at all and decides to stand up for his people. It’s time for someone to step up and earn the rights they deserve. His family doesn’t like the idea. They prefer to stay down and go with the flow until something happens. But Cameron is sick and tired of being treated differently just because of his skin color. He’s going to do something no matter what happens to him.

He plans for days and still doesn’t know what to do. He decides to make a protest. He just needs people who are willing to join him on this dangerous mission. A few days later, everything is set up. Cameron and a few people go out into the streets and start protesting. White people everywhere are terrified. They think that African Americans are trying to take over, so they call the cops.

The cops are quick to take action. They immediately take out their batons and start beating the protesters. Everything happens so quickly that people don’t know how to react. African Americans have been powerless in the south. They know that if they intervene in the fighting, they will be beaten too and they don’t want to take that chance. The beatings still go on for long minutes and people don’t like it anymore.

Cameron goes home and his family tries to convince him to stay and end the protests. He denies the request and continues fighting. The next day, he organizes another protest that will take place near the sheriff’s station two weeks later. This time they manage to get a permit from a judge who supports their cause but is afraid what the others will say. The judge gives them the permit and decides he needs to go somewhere else so he can continue to help.

After the first protest, more people decide to join in because Cameron tells them about the permit. They protest the second time, but it gets worse. Someone tips off the police that the protest will be happening, and the police want to end it quickly. They dispatch a bunch of policemen all over the area and arrest anyone they think was in the protest, which means anyone who is African American. They create a bunch of false charges against them that are dropped the next day just to keep them away.

Cameron is distant after this because he can’t believe someone he thought was a fighter could betray them. He realizes then that the protests have little effect on the law unless they cause a problem with the sheriff. He decides that instead of being in the area where the sheriff is, he will just go to the sheriff’s office with the others and protest there. He thinks this will cause a problem in the city that will be too big for people to ignore.

The next day, they decide to make a bunch of mini protests all over town that will all meet at the sheriff’s office. They know  someone will tell the police, but the police can’t stop all of the protests. They plan it for a month later, but still have a meeting about who will be where and what they are risking. No one disagrees with the idea and all say they will go to their assigned spots.

Once the day of the protest arrives, they decide to go, but Cameron’s family once again tries to stop them. They are frightened for his life, and beg him to stop and listen to them. He ignores them again and goes to lead his part of the protest. They continue through the city for an hour until he reaches the sheriff’s office, and then they realize that someone has betrayed them because, surrounding the sheriff’s office are a bunch of policemen. They have dogs that growl and bark at anyone passing by, but still Cameron will not give up.

He goes up to the policemen and starts chanting by himself. People looked at him like he is crazy and wonder if he is going to be able to leave unharmed. A lot of people snicker and laugh at him, knowing that something is going to happen. In the distance, you can hear the chants of the other groups who make it to the station. Out of nowhere, the judge that gave Cameron the permit steps out of the building with the sheriff and walks towards Cameron.

“Cameron, I suggest you take your group of protesters to go celebrate because I’ve got an agreement with the sheriff,” says the Judge. “Any cop who is deemed untrustworthy or has had complaints of biased actions towards anyone was placed in lower positions until they changed.”

Cameron doesn’t think this will change anything and neither do any of the other protesters. He walks towards the protesters, and they start to march around the building until they are heard. The cops are told to stand down and only use force if the protesters start to get violent. The sheriff walks over to the protesters and shouts into the crowd, “Enough!”

Everyone stares at him and then he starts talking. “We have heard your cries and have decided to act. From now on, there will be no more beatings or acts of hate in this city. We will now be a border state between the North and the South.” Everyone is shocked by the words spoken by the sheriff.

The judge then speaks up: “While the protests have been going on, I have gone to the states above and below us and asked them to allow us to be a border state between them. They will now have more people moving here and will have more control over business, but I think that it is worth allowing people to live here freely. Anyone who thinks that is horrible can go to the state below us, and anyone who thinks that it is not enough can move to the north.”

People look around and someone yells, “When will this start?” The judge states that it is to start in six months.

These are the worst six months the state has ever seen. There are still protests and forced labor still occurs as the result of manipulating the law. After six months, there are fewer protests since there isn’t much they can do anymore. The citizens of the city feel proud they helped cause a change and start to unite more in different aspects. There is still segregation and hate towards those with different colored skin, but Cameron feels proud of his actions.

After the war, they find out who ratted them out about the protest. It was Cameron’s family, trying to keep him safe from the police in town. He eventually forgives them and finds the love of his life at one of the protests. He spends the rest of his days with her. He is remembered by the people of the city and becomes an honored person in the community.

Eduardo M. and Diana R.

Write Wild: The Demon Girl

2 Mar
Eighth-grader Keziah Myers joined us last month for our very first Write Wild! workshop at the peaceful and rustic Writing Barn. Surrounded by trees and quiet and deer wandering the periphery, we spent the morning exploring the art of storytelling — how to think about characters, force them into problematic situations, and keep our readers on the edge of their seats. Keziah’s story was anything but rustic! And all the better for it. Here, she offers an excerpt of the story she created that day, ” The Demon Girl.” There’s plenty of drama going on behind the scenes in this tale, as the narrator seems to have fingers in many pies (and a few bottles).
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The Demon Girl

– an excerpt
Diana’s drinking glasses shattered when she growled. She really wished they wouldn’t do that. It was a pain to clean up the shards. Not to mention that she had to replace her glasses often. And, of course, if Martini, her cat, was in the kitchen when they exploded, he would bolt out of there and claw his way up her back to sit on her shoulder. So yeah, Diana tried not to growl.
It was hard because she really didn’t like yelling too much either. Yelling splintered all the wood in her flat. But… yelling didn’t run the risk of shattering her shot glasses. Because, really, with all the complications the demons had been making, she needed a drink every now and then. She normally had these after a failed negotiation with some big name down there. She really wished she could have them during, but the demons didn’t like it very much.
It was ironic, she would muse (normally over a cup of coffee or a shot of whiskey), that people thought drinking was a devil’s game. They actually hated it. Of course, not that there weren’t guys down there (there was only one lady who had powers she wanted, and Diana didn’t have the money to get to Scandinavia) who couldn’t drink her under the table, but those guys, the ones who she could negotiate with in a bar, they wanted things from her. Things she wasn’t willing to give. Yeah. Things were complicated.
Keziah Myers
Murchison Middle School, 8th Grade

Forrest Preece Young Authors Award

15 Nov

Forrest Preece (middle) with award-winners Jason Luo (left) and Nitya Ganesh (right).

Each year, Forrest Preece and his wife, Linda Ball, honor two young writers from our Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camp and recognize their work at our Illumine gala. Forrest and Linda read through a stack of several dozen impressive poems and stories written by our summer campers and somehow make a very difficult decision — choosing which two pieces will win the prize. (One award is given in the elementary-age category, and one to middle- and high-school students.)

This year, Forrest and Linda chose Nitya Ganesh’s poem “Joy” and Jason Luo’s poem “Fearless,” which are included here. This year’s runners-up are Keerthanyaa Arun for her poem “Meant to Be” and Kate Hirschfeld for her poem “The Kinds of People.” You can enjoy their work below. All winners receive a cash prize provided by Forrest and Linda. Both Nitya and Jason read their poems at the Illumine gala on Friday, November 11 — to much applause and fanfare!

Nitya told us it was an honor to receive this award. “I am grateful to my parents for providing me this wonderful opportunity at the Badgerdog Camp. I also promised my mom that I will thank her when I get any award, for always keeping my pencils sharp and ready for me. P.S. My mom did remind me about the last part.” Nitya also wanted to thank her instructor, Katie McClendon, “for encouraging me to try harder and showing me that writing is cool and fun.”

Congratulations to these four incredible and inspiring writers! And our heartfelt thanks to Forrest and Linda for their continued support of this special honor, one of few that recognizes young writers in our community.

Cecily Sailer
Library Foundation Programs Manager

Linda Ball and Forrest Preece with Nitya and her mom and dad.

Linda Ball and Forrest Preece with Nitya and her mom and dad.

Joy

Creeping
behind all the
sadness,
letting your anger
drift away like a
flowing stream,
letting your
depression scurry
away like a squirrel
with a nut,
shining through all the the
darkness like the
sun behind the clouds,
shining its way
through,
like the moon
in a dark sky floating
in the night
like a cupcake
behind plates
and plates
of broccoli,
when you have
it, joy spreads
like butter on
toast.

Nitya Ganesh
Forrest Preece Award Winner (Grades 3-6)

Fearless

The miniscule creature lays sprawled before my eyes,
its tissue paper wings extending awkwardly to both sides
of its fragile, emerald-dotted back
grounded on my palm.

Its small frame was etched with the exhaustion
of maintaining
her delicate,
brittle,
rapid-fire
soul.

But her eyes were alive with a different inferno.
In her dark eyes streaked the spark
of the insistence
to survive,
fearless
against all odds,
against all obstacles,
against the volatile world that doubted her so.
In her dark eyes streaked the spark
of the defiant hummingbird.

Jason Luo
Forrest Preece Award Winner (Grades 7-12)

Meant To Be

Sadly and slowly, the blue dolphin swims
through the deep blue sea.
As if it were meant to be.
The dolphin longs to feel that large, tall tree.
As if it were meant to be.
Every time I see the dolphin,
its eyes look like they are filled with pleas.
As if it were meant to be.
I long to see the dolphin happy,
so I bring it out to see the world it needs to see.
As if it was meant to be.
It looks at me, its eyes now filled with glee.
As if it was meant to be.

Keerthanyaa Arun
Forrest Preece Young Author Award Runner-Up (Grades 3-6)

The Kinds of People

Let’s go back
to when the days were counted not in numbers but in discoveries.
Small fingers outstretched to the sky, trying to get a grasp on this world
one experience at a time.
Asking questions without answers,
your favorite word was always “Why?”
Punctuated with intensely curious eyes,
your head cocked slightly to the side,
expecting a response even when there wasn’t one to give.
Minds full of fairy dust,
wide eyes of wanderlust,
never knowing what life had in store for us.

Back to when you had perpetually paint-stained hands,
dirt under your fingernails,
hair tangled by the wind,
mud stains on your new dress.
Don’t tell Mom, but you always liked it better that way anyway,
said it reminded you of chocolate milk.
And everyone knows there’s nothing on this earth better than chocolate milk.

Back to when we gazed at the stars so long our eyes themselves began to twinkle.
We took to staring contests during the day to share our galaxies.
We woke up early to watch the sun paint the sky like a canvas.
Call us crazy, but we thought it beat Cartoon Network any day.
We searched the sky for the Big Dipper and Orion’s Belt.
They were the only constellations we knew,
but the way our eyes lit up when we saw them
made them the only ones we needed.

Back to when wonder was our only motive.
We dove in headfirst not because we had courage,
but because we didn’t know to be scared yet.

Back to when we rolled the windows down just to taste the wind,
and daydreaming was a common pastime, not a waste of it.
When we were more than just people…
We were heroes and wizards and pirates and royalty.
We soared through storm clouds and danced with dandelions.
Our heartbeats were the only music we ever needed
and every raindrop was proof that magic really did exist.
Bedtime stories didn’t seem so far off.

What happened between then and now?
How did magic become merely a device for Disney to make a profit?
And four-leaf clovers became so rare we stopped even bothering to look?
We stay up late but keep the curtains closed to the cosmos.
They say money can’t buy happiness, but it’s starting to replace it.
We shy away from opportunity because we finally learned what fear is.
We closed our fists and turned our eyes from the skies.
Your favorite word became “because.”

Except for a few.
Some people never stopped daydreaming.
They still wish on dandelions, though some may call them childish.
They wander forests in their free time because their curiosity surpasses their fears.
They smile at the sky simply because they can
and aren’t afraid to get wet if it means dancing in the rain.
They seek out the beauty in the extraordinary and the mundane.
They live to find stories and never stop looking.
Most of all, they still ask questions,
only now they search for the answers on their own.

Kate Hirschfeld
Forrest Preece Young Author Award Runner-Up (Grades 7-12)

Children of Elnard

7 Sep

These works (from a group of high school writers who dubbed themselves “Children of Elnard”) demonstrate a remarkable range—haunting descriptions of creatures, lyrical dips into the cosmic, wryly comic scenes of the absurd, suspenseful tales of action. But regardless of their varying literary inheritances and moods, all of these six pieces boast the unique imaginations of their authors. This collection, which shows only a slice of what these young writers are capable of, vibrates with confidence and vision.

Taya Kitaysky
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

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The Black Turtle

If you have somehow managed your way through the vast maze of trees located on the edge of the Unknown Continent, you may at some point come across a peculiar cave on the other side of the forest where no light penetrates. In this very cave dwells the Black Turtle. A creature might be intrigued by this fact and dare to enter the cave.

Upon entering the cave, the Black Turtle will be triggered awake and proceed to emit a sudden, high-pitched screech. If the visiting creature does not heed this warning, it will hear three more screeches with each consecutive screech increasing in intensity. A creature that continues its way into the depths of the cave despite these warnings will soon witness two gleaming yellow dots as bright as the sun fade into appearance. As soon as the creature has been blinded and entrapped by the radiant eyes, the Black Turtle will reveal itself and attack.

Right before its demise, the creature will notice the Black Turtle, alight by its brilliantly glowing eyes. Amongst the darkness of the cave, it will discern a plethora of razor-sharp teeth residing in a mouth, an elongated neck plated with scales, a dull metallic shell, some curved claws planted on —

The Black Turtle stares at its latest victim then proceeds to drag the carcass backwards towards its collection. After it has finished disposing of the body, the Black Turtle climbs up its collection into the nest of corpses and closes its eyes.

Amy Min

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SEEK_

There is a gazelle leaping through the sky.
Tufts of nimbus clouds dance around his hooves.

Each star,
a stepping
stone.

Only time guides the everlasting river below, as he carefully stops to drink from its healing waters.

His stripes are a swift sight,
bold shimmers of gold blinding men who seek wealth.

A dragon hiding among the child’s gentle eyes.
Upon delicate snow he rests, in the lonely mountain tops he wails
with twisted horns of guilt. Sleep never favors
such a wondrous beast.

Grace Xiaoyao

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Memory Lane

Red walked discreetly through the woods, clutching her neatly woven basket closely. Her long, red hood hung lightly over her face, covering more than half of it and concealing her in darkness. It cast a shadow over the eyes, enveloping Red with a mysterious aura. The edge of the hood grazed the fingertips of the grass as she peacefully walked around, stopping now and then to pluck flowers from the open. The hood was the most distinct feature of this plain girl. Because of the constant habit of wearing the red cloak, the kingdom villagers had given Red the nickname Little Red Riding Hood.

It was once as red as blood. Woven from the finest of all threads, it had an extremely silky feel. Being as old as it was, though, it had become slightly battered, with several rips and tears scattered miserably. The years of constant weaving, washing, and sewing had downgraded the once beautiful, bold object to a significantly different looking thing with faded colors and patches sewn all over, leaving it looking quite mangled. The hood was incredibly dense and compact, weighing about fifteen pounds. The once-braided gold thread used to fasten around her neck had been reduced to a thin, frail piece of string, which was barely able to support the heavy weight.

People had constantly asked why she never bothered to purchase a new hood, or even ordered the finest weaver in the land to duplicate it. She could surely afford it; she was a princess and daughter of King Jack II. It was because the gift had been given to her by her late mother, whom she had deeply loved. To answer them simply, she always replied that it contained sentimental feelings. Red knew the idea of clutching this sad hood was silly and would never bring back her mother. But after she passed, Red had become the mirrored image of the hood — melancholic, pitiful, and frail, her once joyful aura destroyed for what everyone thought to be forever.

Zoe Min

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Bland Subconscious

There once was a large praying mantis sitting in a church.
He was big, green, praying, and mantis-y.
For many hours, he sat under the church’s vast roof unnoticed.
Sort of.
After the service finished, everyone stood up.
Except for him.
Now he had been noticed.
Unreasoned terror ran through the church.
Children cried.
Adults screamed.
He was stomped at, and people crowded in, forcing him out the old wooden door.
What happened that day, we are still unsure of.
All he was doing was taking a nap.

Kate Strelzick

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A Story On Paper

– an excerpt

All I can remember are lines. Lines left imprinting wherever we went. I once asked, “Mother where are we?” And she replied, “Darling, we live in a world of pictures and sketches. We live like ghosts of paintings. We live on paper, at the mercy of the wavering lines from a pen.” The thought of being out of control and helpless terrified me so I never asked her again.

That morning, it was darker. The lines traced long shadows and shaded the white away. Graphite dust littered the house, so we decided to do some early spring cleaning. Afterwards, we sat down at the crudely drawn table and ate our breakfast. Mother wanted liver for dinner, so I went out to fetch some. On my way back from the market, I noticed something new. A rustic booth with delicately crafted light surrounding the archway. I don’t remember this being here, I thought to myself

When I was a child, all the other children nicknamed me “Nosy.” First, because I had a cartoonishly large nose. and second, because I was curious. I would listen to fragmented conversations and peek into closets in search of treasure. Mother said I always had an adventurer inside me. I guess the name suited me after all, because when I saw the booth I immediately felt the need to inspect the place.

I was peering into the heavily shaded opening trying to make out its contents, when all of a sudden I realized someone was inside. Jumping back, my breath caught. I was contemplated running away when a woman stepped out of the shadows and said, in a voice that sounded like a creaky floorboard, “Looking for someone, Deary?”

***

“Max! We’re going to be late, again!” The dark-haired, clean-shaven man sprinted down the stairs. “Max!” he bellowed again.

“I’m coming! I’m coming!” said the voice from upstairs in an exasperated tone. A boy of about ten or eleven hopped down the stairs. He wore a T-shirt with a drawing of Batman on it, red Converse, and a slight boyish smile.

“All right. Let’s go, kiddo,” said the man, as he ruffled his son’s sandy blond hair. “Wait!” said Thomas, stopping in the doorway. “Do you have your sketchbook?”

“Of course I do, Dad! Do you really think I’d forget something that important?” Max replied lightheartedly.

“OK, Mr. Smarty Pants,” Thomas chuckled.

“Can you put on the radio?” Max asked.

“Sure thing.”

Thomas guided the steering wheel parallel to the bright yellow lines on the road, and tapped the dashboard in beat with the music as he drove. Max took his sketchbook from his backpack and opened it carefully. On the page, in the middle of the thick white parchment, a booth with the window had been drawn. Lights adorned the frame of the single  window, and an old woman’s face peered out of the darkness, looking at a spindly drawn girl with a big nose.

“How’s the story going?” asked Thomas.

“Great. I’m about to get to the good part!” said Max, grinning happily. He picked up his inky black pen and began shading the landscape with quick slender strokes.

Marielle Glasse

amethyst crystal

Tomorrowland’s Hero

Alessia was a hunter, a swift, lean being who stood only five foot two but could slam you into the dirt at any given moment. She was one who believed in superstition and witchcraft, in bad omens and black cats, cracked mirrors and clovers. So, when she found the wild crystals protruding out of the smashed-glass soil of Tomorrowland, she was overjoyed. They were a rosy pink, a color known to represent friendship, affection, harmony, inner peace, and approachability, and they stood out from all the other rubble; the demolished windows and skeletons of old buildings were the only proof that a war had been waged on America — a story for another day. Tomorrowland was what the survivors had built out of nothing, named after a section of a former amusement park.

Alessia nudged the crystals with her foot, jostling them. She was well out of Tomorrowland town limits, so putting down her gun might be a risk. But she did so anyway, looking down the barrel and pulling the lever to take her gun off safety, then storing it securely between her legs. She pulled at the crystals, unearthing them with a cloud of dust and a tinkling of shattered glass. Alessia turned the crystals around, examining them until she noticed the carving on the other end, the crystals neatly filed into the figurine. Slowly, she spun the object in her hand and brought it close to her face to look at it, the gun on the ground forgotten.

A detailed skull had been clearly carved out of rock. Its hollowed-out eyes seemed to stare into her soul, and the mouth was curved, teeth bared in a mad grin. Alessia looked at it in wonder, then caught a flash of silver in the skull’s eye. Passing it off as a figment of her imagination, she started to think. She knew skulls were a bad omen and wanted to drop the crop of crystals right where she’d found them. Yet she was compelled, almost by a haunting, disembodied voice, to keep looking. She finally tore her eyes away and gave a violent shudder, dropping the skull crystal and reaching down for her gun.

But another hand beat her to it. She whirled around to see a man dressed in black, a lazy grin on his face as he twirled her gun through his fingers. Alessia was up in a flash, kicking and choking and biting the man, forcing him to drop her gun with a thump onto the ground. She picked it up and pointed it at the man, finger on the trigger, one eye closed for a precise shot.

“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t kill you right here, right now,” she commanded, staring the man down fiercely.

The man chuckled. “Because, sweetheart, there’s someone else behind you.”

This did not startle Alessia. Being a hunter, she had expected something of the sort. Without even taking her eyes off of the man, she rotated her gun so it was pointing the opposite way, shot in the direction of the sound of stealthy footsteps, and heard a low voice scream “Ow!” followed by a heavy crash.

The man now looked scared, because Alessia had not been the defenseless little girl he had expected. The girl in question took a step towards him, cocking her gun, one long finger reaching towards the trigger. She looked into the man’s fearful hunter green eyes with her own fiery brown ones. She thought she felt the ground shake, but couldn’t be sure. The man also seemed to sense it, she noted. Just as she was about to pull the trigger, one ear-shattering explosion to end his life, a deep, commanding voice issued from the ground directly beneath their feet. It shook the ground, sending vibrations all around them.

“Never disrespect the sacred skull.”

That sentence was all Alessia heard before she dropped her gun, collapsing to the ground, her mind turned to an inky black.

Sachi Kulkarni

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

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