Write From The Heart

2021 High School Essay Contest Winners

Write from the Heart Essay Contest Winners!

High School Winners

We are so excited to announce the high school winners of our 3rd annual essay contest.

Students in our annual classes submitted an essay of their choice, and one winner was chosen in each grade.  Today, we are pleased to share the winning essays from 9th-12th grade!

9th Grade Winner

Logan B., Pennsylvania
Literature & Composition 201

Human Understanding

I have never exactly understood other humans. I talk with them, I live with them, but I don’t always understand them. To make up for my lack of understanding of other people, I write fiction. Through writing, I can better envision the lives of others. However, writing glimpses of others’ lives also gives me a greater appreciation of reality. Fiction helps me process information about the world while providing me with a better appreciation of reality.

When I write fiction, I put myself in the place of my characters and see the world through their eyes. This form of writing helps me process information about people around me and condense it into knowledge about what might actually happen in the world outside my head. By writing fictional characters and chronicling their interactions with others, I manage to learn a bit more about the real world.

However, writing the unreal makes me long for reality all the more. I can satisfy myself for a while with only the products of my imagination and their escapades, but writing these stories makes me want reality even more. It makes me want to feel what my characters feel and experience what they experience. I can go out into the world, experience real things, speak with real people, learn more about the world around me, and then return to a computer to write it all down.

I don’t know if I’ll ever fully understand other people. Perhaps I never will, and I don’t mind that. In a way, my writing helps me to live two lives. I can look at life through the eyes of my characters, and then I look up from my writing to live in the real world. While I may never understand other humans, I certainly enjoy learning about them. 

Honorable Mention—Peter C., Maryland “The Most Thrilling Sport” (Literature & Composition 201)

10th Grade Winner

Elizabeth B., Washington
Literature & Composition 201


On today’s menu: a small, flaky, buttery, crescent shaped roll with an unpronounceable name. Croissants are beautiful, though unobtrusive; rich, yet relatively simple; bold, but adaptable; and, I’d like to think, a bit like me. The croissant represents my proficiency in adjusting to different situations, my strength in developing my skills, my personal experience with bread products, and my family history surprisingly well, for a baked good.

As a bread product, croissants are versatile and can be eaten in any number of ways depending on what’s being eaten with them. Sweet, savory, salty, or sour foods can all be added with no ill effect on the roll.  In much the same way, I try to adapt to the people I’m with and to my surroundings. Sometimes I find new things to be scary but I’m usually willing to try out any new project or idea I’m faced with.

In creating a croissant, one must put quite a bit of work into folding the dough and butter together over, and over to create layer after layer. The work may not seem to do much initially, but once baked the croissant rises beyond recognition. I may not have prodigious talent in any one discipline, but, given enough work and repetition, I have the potential to grow my skills vastly in any subject I choose.

Another one of the reasons I have a connection to croissants is a less metaphorical, a bit more personal, and lies solely in fact that croissants happen to be baked goods packed full of butter. Most of my family is gluten intolerant, including myself, which has left me with a very particular relationship with bread products. Where we lived when I was younger there weren’t any good options for buying gluten free bread, let alone a croissant, and the times when we made bread ourselves were few and far between, so bread became a kind of luxury good to little eight-year-old me. What with all that, it may not be all that surprising that I’ve only eaten a croissant two or three times in my life.

Going a bit farther back in my history, however, I come to the very well-known fact that croissants are a traditional French cuisine. My family on my dad’s side is French to varying degrees. On my grandpa’s side we come from French speaking Canada, and on my grandma’s we’re directly from France. And while my name is decidedly not French, it has Hebrew origins actually, my sister, Euphrasia, was named after our great, great, great, great grandmother, Marie Euphrasie Andre Michaut.

The croissant and I share a number of traits, like adaptability, growth, and French heritage.  Croissants and I go well with many different things, grow vastly given enough work, and share a French lineage. I hadn’t realized before now just how much I had in common with this baked good. Perhaps I shall have to add this small, buttery, flaky roll to my mental list of things to bake.

Honorable Mention—Grace H. Virginia “Mother’s Teachings ” (Literature & Composition 201)

11th/12th Grade Winner

Timothy C., Pennsylvania
Literature & Composition 202

Someone to Chase

Someone to chase. It’s something that everyone thinks about, who is their role model? Is it a famous sports player? Some influential speaker or even a close relative? Like many people, when I was a kid I was always looking for someone to look up to, but no one ever really stuck out as a true role model to me. Someone who I could wonder at and say to myself, “Wow I want to be like them! They’ve accomplished so much!” Then one afternoon I was slumped on my bed after a long school day, while I watched all sorts of speeches and talks. Most of them were very similar, acceptance speeches, funny speeches, lots of Hollywood flare. But I stumbled across one video that specifically drew me in. This video was a speech by Matthew McConaughey talking about role models and how growing up he was always looking for someone to chase. Someone who he eventually decided was himself. Except that this version of himself was ten years in the future. After thinking over that video for a while I realized that if I could also chase this best version of myself, someone that I could always work towards but never quite catch.

 A big part of this chase however is motivation.  I often still lose motivation, as I am a lazy person by nature.  But every once in a while there’s that voice in my ear telling me to keep chasing after that best version of myself. And it’s hard! It’s hard to stay working and not give up on the chase, but by trying to keep up this constant pursuit not only do I give myself a better outlook of what I can look like in the future, but I also give myself the tools to fix those practices that I could be doing better right now.

For instance, fear is a big thing that can hold me back, I’m sure lots of people can think of times where they didn’t do something and regretted it because they were scared of what would happen.  Well, for me, growing up I was absolutely horrified of heights, I wouldn’t go near a roller coaster if my life depended on it. And although it took a lot of convincing I was able to finally ride “The Phantom,” a very tall roller coaster at Kennywood amusement park. Although waiting in line under the towering purple coaster was torture, once I got through the ride I realized just how much fun it was! And although I am still scared of heights, that fear has gotten better over time, but only through confronting it. So like with most things, to chase and become the best version of yourself, you’re going to have to confront the fears and issues in your life that are holding you back, every day!  In the end, however, I think it will all be worth it, and the chase will finally pay off.

Honorable Mention—Ellie W., Texas “Untitled” (Composition 104)

Want a chance to enter your work in a writing contest?

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