Prize Day 2018


Students Featured

Mama I’m sick I said, when I didn’t have the strength to move

Mama I’m sick I said, when I didn’t wanna go to school

Mama I’m sick I said, as your hurried footsteps echoed in the halls

Mama I’m sick I said, and you hugged me like a doll

Mama I’m sick I said, and you mumbled the Lord’s Prayer

Mama I’m sick I said, but...this time you weren’t there?

Mama I’m sick.

Mama I’m...


Mama I’m sorry I said, I didn’t know you were sick too.

Anuoluwa Akibu '20

From a distance
She is weighed down
All her children cling to her
Tested by the wind and storms
Some say she weeps
But she weeps for lovers’ memories
She is carved into
Smiling through the pain
Because love can live inside her
Withstanding wind and rain
She can carry the names through seasons
Never wearing down
She protects them with her long arms
That from afar
Resemble tears
Some say she weeps
But I say she perseveres

Frances Hornbostel '21

I remember
when every cell in my blood turned green
face got dragged into the quagmire
You smell like a yellow flower growing on a corpse.

I remember
when mimicking a queen
You stood in the glass castle made by a stealer
Mocking used mud to cover lighting bolts’ core.

I remember
when I stepped into the fog searching for a sheen
And found the obese toad creeping in shimmers
Your toxic sound waves polluted my shore.

I remember
When I couldn’t remember how many times
You tryed to eat up the stars
Because they shone brighter than fake diamonds on your dignity
When I couldn’t remember how many times
When sages used torches to light for the poor
You used it to burn them
desperate to melt the unmelted berg inside your empty cave.

A joker dresses up as a wiser.
How prideful
How pathetic
So go swim in the ocean of thistles thorns and the unkindness
With your vulture friends wearing masks of owls applauding

As for me
I’ll paddle my boat
And witnessing
your grievous decomposition.

Zhuoer (Alex) Chen '21
Море свободне, як життя немовля. Хвиля росте поки її не зустріне земля. Земля, вона як родна нам любоvв. Готова померти заради наших розмов.


Розмови, вони тільки шкодять усім нам. Тільки створює для нас загайвий гам. А ми, ми це ми. Не люді. Не створіня цего раю.


Або ми тільки говоримо про щастя у нашому краю. Тепер, мої діти слухайте сюди. Задумайтесь про свої плоди. Чи будуть вони готові для всіх хто безцільно лежить?


Або будуть вони руйнувати усе ще краю належить? Море свободне, як життя немовля. Хвиля росте поки її не зустріне земля.


The sea is free, like the life of a toddler. The wave grows until it meets the dust above. Earth, she is to us of a familiar love. Ready to die for our sinful dollar.


Conversations, they only hurt us all. Morph into a bluff for us to brawl. And us, we are us. Not people of this paradise.


For we just talk about happiness in our root. Now, my kin listen to what I say. The people think about your fruit. Will it be ready for all who aimlessly lay?


Or will it eradicate everything that belongs to our mother? The sea is free, like the life of a toddler. The wave grows for us and no other.


Illia Rebechar '20


I don’t think you understand
How hard it is
To find peace in a season of turmoil
How easy it is
To lose the control that you never had

I don’t think you understand
That when I wake up each morning
It’s like no one’s there
That when I go to sleep at night
The room is an empty vessel

And yet it’s so full.

There’s a cold breeze that I feel
But still, there I am
Constricted by the heat in the room
That won’t release me
So thick it fills my lungs
And burns my throat as I choke on it

And it’s not that I don’t want to move
But something tells me to stay there
Something tells me not to protest
To just let it be
Then, next time, to seek it out
Look for the thing that will take up so much space, you feel out of place in your own body

Because it’s so easy
To lose the control you never thought you had
But it gets even easier
When you find sick peace in your turmoil.

Grace Adjei Darko '18

Your mind is an ocean
On a beautiful sunny day an ocean is a sight to see.
The water shimmers and is still
It looks peaceful and inviting
The beautiful color casts a joyous mood for the whole day.
Now go a little further and you will see
This ocean isn’t as peaceful as you thought it to be
The wind picks up and the waves start to crash
Where deadly sea creatures lurk in the dark
Where no man has never been lays the place of unknown
The place that is black with nothing to be seen
It takes courage and trust to venture on
To shine a light in a water of darkness
When the cold winter wind howls and blizzards come and go, the ocean freezes. It is still

and lifeless.
Yes peaceful, but in a different way.
You can’t see the clear blue waters that you once saw before. The ocean freezes the life

away. Causing isolation and dismay.
Some days you won’t need to go further.
Some days it’s stormy and you don’t need to go to the deep end to see the danger.
The waves smash against the shore and this peaceful ocean isn’t so welcoming anymore. No one wants to sit on the shore and lay in the bright warm sun.
The ocean is alone raging with force.
Sometimes these waves get so big and powerful they cause disaster.
Homes and lives washed away by the wrath and swallowed into the deep and the past. But that’s what the sun is for.
It will shine again and dry up all the water to reveal the land.
The ocean is peaceful welcoming once more.
Where people play and laugh and talk all day.
Your mind is an ocean, for they are the holder of life.

Eve Elkins '21

Broken grass, infant’s finger pale, awaits to be bent when a word
hits the horse’s shadow, shatters the rider’s sunset.

Broken grasses
blue a valley of ponds. Blue of infant’s tooth,
of willows in the south, of the rider’s ankle, bent.

Helynna Lin '18

“I want to be a beautiful wave,” says the young girl
“For waves dance like my skirt does when I twirl
I want nothing more than to be a wave
This goal in life is all that I crave”

I think of a wave surrounding me
Hues of green and blue are all that I see Droplets splash and fly
But the illusion is all just a lie

For the wave always crashes back
And then returns to its intended track
Its beauty stays just a moment in all
It is powerful only until it hits its defeating wall

Then gone goes all of its might
All of the sudden like turning off a light
It fades back down into the sea
A wondrous second of impact is all it can hope to be

Then it rushes to the shore
And destroys the entire sand floor
It engulfs everything in its path
Nothing can run nor hide from its wrath


“No,” I tell the girl in front of me
“The sun is actually want you want to be
The sun is just as magnificent you know
And yet its beauty will never go

Each day it comes up to greet the Earth
To all days it is the one who gives birth
Its beauty is used to breathe life to us all
And this type of beauty will never fail nor fall

Young one, the true importance of your time here
Is to touch people both far and near
Just look at the sun on the tip of the wave
Giving light to others is the beauty you should crave”

Kerrie Verbeek '19

What it means to be a feminist
In a society where I cannot benefit
Too many people tell me
That I am a supremacist,
That I am a man’s nemesis
But I must continue to live
As a feminist

Because girls are the main victims of sexual assault
Because girls are silenced from important conversations
Because girls are manipulated by media’s expectations
So how can I survive as a girl,
If I am not a feminist?

What it means to be a feminist
In a society where I am promised
That in the future, girls will not fear
I will not fear
judgments, stereotypes, oppression, and ignorance
But the future is yet to come
And so I must continue to live
As a feminist

Because I know girls are able to articulate their thoughts
Because I know girls are patient yet resilient
Because I know girls are too strong to let others bring them down I am proud to be a girl,
and I will fight on as a feminist

Oh, what it means to be a feminist
There are too many misconceptions about feminism
And to address just a few:
No, a feminist does not hate men
No, a feminist does not believe women are superior
No, a feminist does not want to suppress men

A feminist believes,
I believe
that women and men should have equal rights
That is what it means to be a feminist
And I will continue to live on
As a feminist.

Izzy Kim '18

Indeed, the afternoon started out in peace: just the end of another normal Thursday with Sculpture Workshop in the morning, Mud Arithmetic before lunch, Shape Vocab follow-
ing, and free time after four. Sitting under the sunset, I fished a lump of soft clay out of my box, shaped it into a rough pyramid, and passed it to her. She examined my message in her hands, reshaped it, and passed to me with a grin. It was slippery and heavy in my palm, and I inspected her work with curiosity. The deciphered message elicited laughter from both of us, and I cannot help but see the twinkle in her eyes. The afternoon was tranquil, almost bland, but pleasant.

I passed the clay back after reshaping it into a cube. “Just hanging with Jay,” it said. She raised an eyebrow and passed me an “Oh yeah?” I handed over the malleable clay with a shrug; she received it smiling, but confusion overtook her face as she read. I shook my head anxiously, re- made the shape, and tried again. She finally lit up with understanding. “You meant a dodeca- hedron! I did not realize.” Her eyes seemed to say. We both forced out a laugh at the mishap. She smiled, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. The clay felt colder and softer than usual.

Perhaps it was for that I added unsuitable details, my sculpture skills could not express the complexity of my ideas, or she accidentally squished the messages in passing. Nevertheless,
it happened again, and again. The object I intended to hand out was never the object she received. Hasty, incoherent attempts at explanation were made, but the built-up in frustration slowly became palpable. After I corrected her misunderstanding, her expression imparted no longer apology but annoyance and distrust. She crossed her arms, frowning doubtfully at me. Defending my ego, I stopped assuming the best of her, too.

The ending eventually came. After trying and failing five times to achieve accuracy, I gave up and handed her a crude shape. She read impatiently, then glared up appalled: finally, a mis- understanding too great to be corrected. My eyes widened, silently screaming, “But you know that is not what I meant!” “Well, this is exactly what your shape says,” her scowl yells. I tried to pass her another sculpture, to attempt to say that my message changed perhaps for that I added an unsuitable detail, my sculpture skills could not express the complexity of my idea, or she accidentally squished the message in passing.

Pulling her hands away, she dropped my message. It hit the ground, smooshed and deformed. I picked up my clay and walked away, eyes glistening under the disappearing sunlight.

Jenny Tang '20

I have this reoccurring dream
about the world ripping apart at the seam poison from our hearts
into the air it darts
love is disappearing it may seem

the hidden dictator we may fear not noticing our freedom disappear some chose to turn away
ignorant to what we say
to us the only choice is clear

in a group of rebels we will fight
forced by oppression to unite
we stand side by side in arms
equipped with our word of charms
in time we will replace the wrongs with write

this remote dream haunts me in my sleep it jolts me awake with memories to keep now with eyes open I see
my real world in front of me

with laughter in the air, here love runs deep

as I go through the day fear stirs in my mind of that horrible world I left behind
I dread laying my head down
to go back to that ghost town

but alas I must go into that world blind

Madeleine Wass '20

Goes day by day, There’s no escape. Night has come, The final call. As we again, Embrace the dawn. Life cycles on, In abyss we fall.

Alan Gao '19

Good Friday came and Good Friday left,
A day of rain and a day of gray,
The weather matched all our pain
As it took up a soul to rest.

She spoke with words as soft as feathers,
Her heart was as tough as leather,
She was the glue that held us all together.

Her faith was strong, through and through.
Not anything did she lose it to.

Even when, on her deathbed she lied,
God stayed with her, by her side.

Her last breath was accompanied with heart-wrenching cries,
And, no matter how much we tried,
The tears on our faces just wouldn’t subside.

Good Friday came and Good Friday left,
Its time taking up one more soul,
And we will never stop finding time to extol, The love which gave her her final rest.

Lydia Rascher '20

I used to live in this mansion.
The most beautiful house in the district.
I’ve walked through this iron gate a thousand times.
The growing poplar trees always greeted me,
their stance rigid as a soldier.
A different soldier stands on these streets now.
The iron gate has rusted.

Inside my house, there is a long hallway
where Hassan and I would run
I can still hear our footsteps.
His always more certain,

Mine always hesitating.

The streets were once filled with merchants
The scent of kabobs as we haggled for better deals
Hindi music inspiring us to dance
But the streets are now empty
As if they never existed.

Taliban soldiers, armed with Kalashnikovs,
stand over kneeling children on the sidewalk.
Beseeching to Allah for food.
The kabobs are gone.

And so is Hassan.

Luke Lee '20

I remember the smell of happiness With my family and I side by side For the last time

Now the smell of happiness is distant Far enough that the only smell left
Is the smell of regret

Regret, a short six-letter word
that could change everything and everyone

Regret, a feeling that sticks with you Until the day you die
A feeling that kills you a little day by day

A feeling that pushes families away Pushes friends away
And pushes your own soul away

Regret and me like a married couple Together 'till the day we die

Geetika Surapaneni '21

Some kind of telekinetic energy,
fizzes in the air surrounding me.
It pops and explodes silently,
as you near me by a hundred feet.

I swear I hear my screams,
nothing stays as still as it seems.
I’ve grown to remember all of my dreams,
sweet ones etched just as deep.

Stand in the middle of the vast open raging sea,
feel the sting in my eyes feel the pull at my feet.
If I could just be,

Angela Li '19

Six O’Clock
The death knell. The burial.
“Form up! Quickly!”
Night had fallen
Hundreds of SS rose out of the darkness, accompanied by dogs
The gates opened.
An even darker night was waiting for us on the other side.
It was very cold.
Our turn was coming
“Block 57, forward! March!”
We marched without faltering.
“Faster, you filthy sons of bitches!”
We were no longer marching, we were running.
Pitch darkness
An explosion in the night
Fire on any who could not keep up
fingers on triggers
I repeated to myself, “Don’t think, don’t stop, run!”
men collapsing into the dirty snow.
A young boy from Poland was marching beside me.
“We cannot run like this to the end of the world.”

Henry Sansone '21

Blood simmers, crimson angel taken wings.
A clapping starts with the last demon down.
To my surprise, I stood before their king,
T’was not Hecate but me who wore the crown.

He was not armed, nor wrathful, nor dement.
T’was only me, there’s nothing more to see.
The bareness of my self, my true intent.
The brave, the coward, the good, the villainy.

Before him, all conviction disappeared.
The dauntless became the daunted, I, him.
But he hugged me and whispered in my ear.
“Crave be holy, as your sympathy, grim.”

In tears, I stabbed him. Again and again.
In blood, had I truly become a man.

Will Lu '20

My life is like a waterballoon
Filled to the brim
Ready to explode with even the tiniest

My life is like a waterballoon
On the brink of popping
Scared to touch in fear it will

My life is like a waterballon
Handled delicately by all
But sometimes delicate is not

My life is like a waterballoon
Do I take a chance and throw it
Or will it come back down and

My life is like a waterballoon
Stretched thin to hold everything
Stretched so thin that sometimes
Someone else won’t notice
Will be careless
Won’t care
And it
Will POP.

Charlotte Bertsch '21

despite the mental preparation.
the reassurance that I wouldn’t get hit.
the five minute pep talk in the store.
the two minute pep talk outside the store.
the excruciatingly slow walk to the “edge” of the sidewalk. no one was there.

because they had all gone.
and I watched them.
i caused the very thing I dreaded. i was too slow and now,
i would have to cross.

sighing in defeat,
i turn away,
and all i can think of is that stupid question. why did the chicken cross the road?
she didn’t.
she found another way home.

Anuoluwa Akibu '20

He had asked me if I wanted to go hiking. I said no.
Maiya and I went backpacking a few years ago. She wanted to go to Yellowstone, and I figured I would go and see the wildlife. She had told me there would be bears, moose, elk, bison, badgers, and even otters. We purchased gear and new gadgets and prepared for hiking and camping.
Maiya had said, “You have to try everything once, and when you do, make it big and important. So we are going to Yellowstone.”
She looked at me. I think she wanted me to say something because she said nothing but all I could do was nod.
We drove there in her small Corolla. Winnemucca was small, but not small enough. 7,396 faces in Winnemucca. In Yellowstone, it would be me and Maiya. It took us 11 hours with stops at Mavericks only and a small sleeping break. She pulled over the car for 2 hours and 13 minutes for her nap.
We arrived at nightfall. Maiya’s eye drooped and her face was pale. She looked tired. I knew this because my mother used to look this way every night when she got home. Mai- ya had rented a cabin the first night for cheap. I knew it was cheap because it smelled of dead cats.
“It is dirty,” I said. “It smells. And it is damp.”
And she said, “It is also dark. You can sleep here one night, with your eyes closed and then I am sure we will sleep in worse.”
I knew I would be fine because one time I stayed in a putrid motel three whole nights for Aunt Bernadette’s funeral. I only ever met her when she was dead. Bodies are a weird thing. They look much different when they aren’t breathing, which shouldn’t have been a surprise. It shocked me anyways. That room was miserable but when I closed my eyes it didn’t really matter.
Not April yet, it was cold and wet. We hiked into Yellowstone and headed to the first campsite. She hadn’t remembered to check the weather. That is why everything changed. That is why nothing went right. That is a fact I can pinpoint. She hadn’t planned for snow. Neither had I.
We slept at the Madison Campground and the next day we kept moving. 3 more days of moving and camping. The fourth day we hiked for 47 minutes before the snow began. We stopped to wait it out. But the snow never stopped. 34 inches fell.
“Let’s dig a shelter. We have plenty to eat. We will be fine.” But I could not believe her because she could not look at me. I knew that we would not be going anywhere soon. 12,131 feet above sea level and we had not even made it to the peak. 1 day 11 hours and 36 minutes passed and we sat there. Huddling for warmth and eating our food. The hours passed slowly and the snow didn’t stop. The more and more that piled the closer we huddledI had lost feeling in my toes and fingers. Maiya just cried.
I thought about the aquarium. I liked the aquarium. Everything was in its place. I know that if I was a seal I would be very warm right now. Seals have blubber which helps them to hold heat.
I thought about death too because there was almost an 82 percent chance we would die.
I didn’t believe in heaven but Mom used to. I think it would just be dark. And I would be dead. And not think. No heartbeat means no blood flow means no nerve activity means no thought. Just death. Which scares people, but it just seems like being asleep. Being dead would be okay I think because I like sleeping.
I remember closing my eyes, because sleeping is better than almost dead. I woke up some- where else. With bright lights and clean smells and too many people. I didn’t remember how I got there but it hurt. I screamed. Loudly.
I don’t think I will ever hike again.

Emily Taylor '20

Farewell isn’t “goodbye” It’s “I’ll see you later”

We’re all moving on through time
Trying to achieve something greater

And if the road you choose is new
To your past you’re not a traitor

To the future in front of you
You’re the talented illustrator

So go out and pursue
Be your own educator

And to those who try and stop you
Be their exterminator

Embrace your true self Never be an imitator

And things will get tough
There will be commentators

But there’s nothing you can’t do
And you’re stronger than you know
You’re the next gladiators
Now spread your wings and go

Kennedy Petties '19