Write from the Heart Essay Contest Winners!
High School Winners
We are so excited to announce the high school winners of our 2nd 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
Elizabeth B., Washington
To quote Emily Dickinson: “There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away.” I am much more adept at imagining sounds in my head than pictures, but when bolstered by the heavy support of cushioning words, I can comfortably wrap myself in the world of their description. I have lost myself in their stories, taken part in their adventures, and gone over the subtle subplots over and over again. If ever I pick up a book for the second, third, or fourth time, it would always be there for me, the same as ever before; a gateway to a new world. And though the story will stay the same from reader to reader, the world that it shows you is your own in almost every way. That world is a special place for your eyes only.
Books do more than just take you to another place; they take you to another time. When people bring books into waiting rooms, or on long car drives to “kill time”, one must remember that, whatever it may feel like, normal time is not going any faster. Books have a time of their own; sometimes faster than ours and sometimes much slower. Multiple days can go by in seconds, and fifteen minutes by a books clock can take half an hour to read. For example, a few nights ago I picked up a book of Hugh Howey’s, called Wool, thinking I would read one chapter before bed. But one hour and five chapters later, my mom had to pull me out of my book-induced trance so that I could go to sleep. The hour I spent reading had felt like nothing compared to the days that had passed within those pages. Books are our gateway to a place beyond ourselves. They can take us worlds away from everything familiar, immersing us in the strange, new, and wonderful.
Honorable Mention—Grace H., Virginia “Skills of a Babysitter”
10th Grade Winner
Jay K., Republic of Korea
The Art of Amateur Authorship
Every novelist is a writer, but not every writer gets the chance to be a novelist. On this year’s summer vacation, I had the experience of glimpsing what it is like to be a novelist.
It all began simply. My brother and I started a smartphone game (it is a game in which you to send soldiers to the enemy tower and try to break it while the opponent tries to do the same) and got a bit addicted to it. But since we could not do games as much as we liked (house rules), we started to invent stories about the game characters. It was my brother who came up with the idea of writing a novel, my dad who encouraged us to sublimate our passion to art, and me who came up with the general plot.
Thus, “novel-writing” became our project for the summer vacation, with high dreams of it becoming renowned as other famous fantasy novels such as Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings. From the very start, we decided it would be better to lower our expectation. We discovered major weak points in our plot; we constantly quarreled among each other about word choice; and the summer vacation was ending even though we were barely finishing Chapter One.
As it is with many other problems, time and brainstorming helped us, the amateur authors. Changes to the original plot made the story more plausible; we decided to split the book into two and write two versions of it, thus ending heated discussions about minor problems; we decided to make this novel a whole-year project, and by now we have gotten to Chapter Seven. Yes, we are still in the process of writing our grand novel, the novel that will one day become a legendary classic. (Who knows?)
I learned a lot (and am still learning) through the novel-writing project. The first thing I learned is why people work in teams. Better ideas are found more easily when one has a person to talk with. It is the same case with faults: they are found and corrected more easily when in the company of others.
The second thing is that authors do well to write on their own. Though ideas can be created with others, the act of writing itself is a deeply individual job. Every writer is unalike, and each has one’s own style of expression. Though two people write about the same story, the produced results are surprisingly different, and it is quite fun to compare them.
The third thing is that writing a novel, though it has its difficulties, is a great activity to invest your summer vacation in. It is especially the case with fantasy novels, where you get to create your own world. The characters come alive, the plot becomes intense, and you find yourself immersed in your own novel. In a way, writing is the same as online gaming: you soon get addicted in it!
Honorable Mention—Caelin T. Pennsylvania “My Favorite Time of the Year”
Honorable Mention—Timothy C. Pennsylvania “Racism”
Honorable Mention—Izaak R. Pennsylvania “The Heat of Summer”
Honorable Mention—Isaac F. Delaware “Swinging with the Boat
11th/12th Grade Winner
Amy W., Pennsylvania
As I waved goodbye until my brothers were blurred out of clear vision, I looked out the car window, towards the sun setting beneath the pink cotton-like clouds. Depressing thoughts of two years at home weighed heavily on me. Being the only child left in the nest left an emptiness in the house, reminding me of their absence. During the day, the eerie silence lets me daydream of what is to come of my near future, creating in me a desire for my high school years to fly by so that I could be at college, too. Hearing my brother’s amusing stories of college life leaves me feeling as though my time at home is somewhat destitute from a warm sensation of fulfillment and accomplishment as if I am missing something that could give me so much more joy and meaning. Over the following days, I pondered on what could keep me busy and satisfied. Nothing I could think up would fill the emptiness I felt.
Working on my homework, I decided to take a quick mental break and looked up. A piece of small paper, I had sloppily cut out of a magazine months ago, hung taped against my teal wall. I stared at it for a moment, reading it intently, then it was as if I had only then read it for the first time. “You are Worthy, You are Beautiful, You are Enough” was the message, beautifully calligraphed onto the page. The last statement had me deeply thinking, “If I am enough, is God enough for me?” I realized I was unhappy because I was focused so much on myself. The society I live in encourages me to show as much self-love to myself as I possibly can. Whether it means buying the best clothes, luxurious items, and regular extravagant vacations, it all focuses on oneself. “If I lose everything: my possessions, family and friends, health, or even my life, is God still enough for me?” This is not a question I can answer briefly but takes a lifetime to respond. I can say yes, but words don’t mean as much as actions.
I was so focused on myself that the small things I never gave a second thought seemed to be large issues I had to change. Wanting to focus on others more, until it is a habit, yet not knowing where to start, I decided to start writing encouraging letters, doing unexpected favors, and pray for people. It isn’t easy staying diligent, but it is so worth it.
Still daydreaming of moving into a dorm, I realized these next two years are something I should seek to make the most of. I am excited and looking forward to discovering what lies ahead, realizing I will not be a teen for much longer. If I’m not satisfied with myself, whose fault is that? My own. Making a change is the first step to a lifelong habit, and I’ll carry these truths with me my whole life.
Honorable Mention—Micah N. Pennsylvania “An Afternoon on the Peak”
Honorable Mention—Samuel S. Tennessee “Hook Line and Sinker”
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