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Fall 2011 Winning Essays on "Why My Dad's Going Green"

The YES! National Student Writing Competition gives students the chance to write for a real audience and be published by an award-winning magazine. Each quarter, students have the opportunity to read and respond to a selected YES! Magazine article.

For Fall 2011, participants read and responded to the YES! Magazine article, "Why My Dad's Going Green" by Kate Sheppard. Congratulations to our essay winners: Middle School—Haley Coe; College–Cherese Smith; and Powerful Voice—Lourdes Escobar and Wesely Mikiska. And, thank you to all writers who submitted an essay.

Haley CoeMiddle School Winner Haley CoeHaley Coe is a homeschool student with Oak Meadow School. Read Haley's essay, "A Lesson on Life" about friendship despite disagreement.

Cherese SmithCollege Winner Cherese SmithCherese Smith is a student at Shoreline Community College in Shoreline, Washington, just north of Seattle. Read Cherese's essay, "The Racist in the Room" about trying to understand her grandmother's prejudice against Hispanic people.

Lourdes EscobarPowerful Voice Winner Lourdes EscobarLourdes Escobar is a sixth grader at John Muir Middle School, a Los Angeles Unified School operated in conjunction with the nonprofit LA's Promise. Read Lourdes' essay, "Afraid to Choose," about her struggle with the choices her father has made.


Wesely MikiskaPowerful Voice Winner Wesely Mikiska

Wesely Mikiska is a student at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Read Wesely's essay, "Reasoning With My Better Half" about the value of compromise.


Kate Sheppard Author Response 

Kate Sheppard, author of, "Why My Dad's Going Green," responds to the winning essays of the Fall 2011 writing competition. Kate covers energy and environmental politics from Washington, D.C. She currently writes for Mother Jones and was previously the political reporter for Grist.


Fall 2011 Writing Competition Literary Gems


We received many powerful essays. Though not every participant can win the contest, we'd like to share some excerpts that caught our eye. 


"Everybody was telling me that I was a "scaredy cat" not to fight. And since a lot of kids had told her that it (the accident) was on purpose, we fought. We fought in the back of a building.

When I read "Why My Dad's Going Green" in YES! Magazine, it made me think about how two people distance themselves from each other. And so I thought of this fight. Our beliefs can trouble our relationships sometimes."

—Vanesa Lopez, John Muir Middle School, Los Angeles, CA


"My dad and I began working on a 1,000-piece Lego ship set. It took us three weeks to build our magnificent, huge ship. We were so proud, and I couldn't wait for it to be finished. One day, my little brother got mad and destroyed it. I stared at the scattered, broken pieces lying there. In a way, this was happening to our family."

—Nia H. Spring, Global Village School, Bason, NY

"The kitchen island that I was perched upon suddenly felt like a real island amid an infinite sea of ideologies—one that my father and I were not prepared to cross. Looking back, I identify this conflict of personal paradigms, and the ensuing lack of communication, as a microcosm of the greater problems that affect our world today. It seems we would rather peek out over our defensive walls than take the time to build a boat."

Kyra Hoskins, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC


"In the end I realize that I don't mind being referred to as an "Oreo" or "white washed" because it shows that I am doing something right—If I exceed expectations of what a black person can accomplish, they (those calling me an "Oreo") can no longer believe what they say about what it means to be a black person in American society."

—Kebron Fikadu, Shoreline Community College, Shoreline, Wash.



 READ The Fall 2011 Writing Competition prompt article, "Why My Dad's Going Green" by Kate Sheppard.


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