Winter 2018: "Less Stuff, More Heart" Literary Gems

We received many outstanding essays for the Winter 2018 Writing Competition. Though not every participant can win the contest, we'd like to share some excerpts that caught our eye.
It's A Wonderful Life

The day I left Jamaica, I had to leave my mom’s side of the family behind—including my mother and my brother. That day I did not know that I would lose half of my heart and feel less love than I used to feel. 

—Ryana Lewis, grade 8, The East Harlem School, New York City, New York

 

In a well-loved book, you can see the stain from the jam you spilled on it at the breakfast table, find the folded note or “lost” grocery list you used as a bookmark, feel the brittle stiffness of a tome dropped into a bathtub while you’re reading. In a well-loved book, you can find emotions, memories, long forgotten moments trapped between its pages like a dried flower pressed within a heavy tome—perfectly preserved in all its beauty.
—Claire Chandler, grade 9, North Monterey County Independent Schools, Monterey, Calif.

 

I wrote down my feelings for the people I needed to. No pretenses, no story to mask anything, just truth. Just words. I laid myself bare for them, let them see everything in my head that doesn’t make it out of my mouth. It was terrifying. It was worth it.
—Perla Cabrera, grade 11, William J. Brennan High School, San Antonio, Texas

 

I wish to feel like a part of something, rather than just the only part that holds it all together. 
—Dakota Hall Alvard, grade 11, Berryville High School, Berryville, Ark.

 

On stage, I needed a voice that is passionate, a voice that burst from me. The voice I had tried so hard to contain was finally wanted somewhere.
—Zöe Predmore, grade 7, Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle, Wash.

 

In our affluent, capitalistic high, we choose to indulge ourselves with everything from hyper-specific kitchen appliances to tax cuts.
—Elias Boshara, grade 11, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Mo.

 

I appreciate my dog from his ears down to his paws.
—Layla Sprague, grade 8, Onteora Middle School, Boiceville, New York

 

There was something about the picture. It was like when you have a song stuck in your head and it won't go away, or when you start a book and can’t look away. That was the spell that cast on my eyes when I looked into my mother’s beautiful brown eyes.
—Alexandra Hoyle, grade 6, Kennett Middle School, Landenberg, Phil.

 

When the weather is good, my family and I go to the park and play soccer. When we rest I look up at the sky and I think of both my grandparents. Maybe they are up there, up in the sky guarding us, seeing their little children and their little children’s children. Maybe one day my children would look up at the sky, hoping to have met them.
—Nicole Abrajan, grade 8, The East Harlem School, New York City, New York

 

Music is one of the things that everyone has access to. You don’t need an instrument, you can be the instrument.
—Miranda Song, grade 8, Brier Terrace Middle School, Brier, Wash.

 

I would be willing to give up every sweet time I hit the snooze button and every corner seat I lucked out on in public transportation if it meant I could have a recap of each moment I met someone who touched my life.
—Alex Mamore, University of California-Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif.

 

Every soul holds a story; each carries years of despair, contentment, guilt, and warmth.
—Madison Norris, grade 11, William J. Brennan High School, San Antonio, Texas

 

It is evident that teens prefer to have a good WiFi connection over a connection to others.
—Victoria Terry, grade 11, Shades Valley High School, Birmingham, Ala.

 

For my birthday, I don’t want a dance or a party like my quinceañera. I simply want to lay my beloved to rest and finally say goodbye. I want to cry in peace.
—Guadalupe Rodriguez, University of California-Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif.

 

Writing is like a puzzle; I have a clear picture, but just a few essential pieces are missing. In order to fill in the rest of the puzzle, I need words that I don’t possess.
—Emma Kerani, grade 8, Brier Terrace Middle School, Brier, Wash.

 

Our individual chase for perfection becomes a societal marathon with no winners.
—Delwin Portillo, grade 11, Berryville High School, Berryville, Ark.

 

Dreams are something that are important to us, and if they recur I believe that they are trying to tell us that this place has a meaning that you have not discovered yet.
—Allison Burton, grade 8, Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle, Wash.

 

 

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