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Congratulations to all the winners of this year’s Concept Writing Competition!

Elementary Category

1st Place – Olivia Phlegar, HSA Springfield
2nd Place – Rikya Shirley, HSA Columbus Elementary
3rd Place – Tyrone Woody, HSA Columbus Elementary

Middle School Category

1st Place – Hana Samad, HSA Cleveland Middle
2nd Place – Safa Abdullah, CMSA
3rd Place – Zaire Ridgeway –Bogerty, Noble Academy Cleveland
Honorable Mention – Eboni Dunn, HSA Cleveland Middle

High School Category

1st Place – Olivia Costa, HSA Dayton High School
2nd Place – Alex Wilson, GSA Fyler
3rd Place – Stephanie Garcia, HSA McKinley Park
Honorable Mention – Mikenna Watts, HSA Cleveland

 

Look for our first ever book of writings: WordsWorthWriting 2017/2018

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Here are the works of our first place winners:                                                                                                            

1st Place Winner – Elementary Category

5th Grade at HSA Springfield

Teacher, Michelle Thomas

Alice In Wonderland by Olivia Phlegar

Everyone knows the story of “Alice in Wonderland,” or so they think.  It starts with a little girl named Alice.  She was at a riverbank with her older sister, who was reading a book.  Obviously bored, Alice decided to wander.  As she walks, she spots a white rabbit wearing a red, corduroy jacket and holding an old and rusty pocket watch.  How peculiar, thought the girl.   As curiosity rises, she makes the decision to follow the rabbit.

“I’m late! I’m late!  For a very important date! No time to say hello!  Goodbye! I’m late!  I’m late! I’m late!” Alice heard the rabbit say.

“Rabbits cannot talk.  It’s impossible!  I must just be a bit tired, “ she thought.
She followed the white rabbit into a dark hole behind her favorite willow tree.  Alice, not watching where she was going, tripped over a root and fell into the strange hole.  She wondered why she hadn’t noticed it before.  The girl expected to land soon but it was a rather large hole.  While falling, Alice passed an assortment of vintage collectibles.

After going through all these crazy adventures to get home she finds herself in front of a Queen who has just ordered her beheading.

“Rule 49 clearly states that anyone who is caught trespassing into Wonderland is to be beheaded at once!” the Queen said with a roar.

Now, everybody thinks the fairy tale ends with Alice waking up and telling her sister about the crazy adventures she had just had in her dream.  Then her sister suggested Alice go inside and fetch some Raspberry Mint tea because she was hallucinating funny things.  And as Alice walked inside, her sister stays by the river with her book in hand and wonders about what Alice had just told her.

But that is not what really happened at all.  Instead of waking up from the dream, Alice found out it actually wasn’t a dream at all!  Turns out, what she thought was her real life was just her crazy imagination!  After she found out the truth, everyone in Wonderland made the decision to fire the King and Queen of Hearts and they made Alice the new Headmistress!  She was so amazed at how many people supported her.  I mean, she was 12 years old and she was ruling a kingdom that she happened to discover by falling into a hole! 

Once the throne was handed over, Alice decided to throw the former rulers into Dragon Jail for their foul behavior toward the residents of Wonderland.  Thought she missed her sister, she chose to be happy about the new position she had been given.  But as she was talking to the Knight, Sir Timmy Toes, someone came up behind her.  It was her older sister and the Mad Hatter!

“How are you here!?!” Alice asked her sister with clear excitement on her face.

“I knew about this place long before you were even born,” she said. “I’ve been coming here since I was seven!”

Turns out, they had just come to ask if they could make a new national holiday called Cheese Day!  Of course, Alice agreed to the idea because cheese was her favorite food! And ever since that day, Alice gave the orders and everyone followed them with no questions.

One day though, she said to herself, “Do the people of Wonderland find it peculiar that I do not have a King? Then she went around asking her people what they though.

“Alice, you are the best leader a kingdom could ask for.  I personally think you work well alone,” said the Cheshire Cat with a wicked smile. 

After thinking about it for a while, she realized she didn’t need someone to rule beside her.  She decided she was happier without a man by her side every minute of the day.  She still rules just fine without one.  Every day, she took care of her people like no other Queen could.  She connected with her citizens and had a special, personal bond with each and every one of them.  A common activity that they did together was grand tea parties.  She even made it so that they had a tea party every week!

It is said that Alice is still running Wonderland to this very day!  She is most likely still the kind, hopeful person that she was before.  Maybe she’s waiting for someone new to fall down the mysterious rabbit hole.

That, my dear reader, is the real story of, “Alice in Wonderland.”  I hope you enjoyed finding out what really happened.  Just remember, all women deserve respect, yet not all of them need a man.  Women should have just as many life opportunities.  If they want to be a Queen, then nobody can change that.

1st Place Winner – Middle School Category

8th grader at HSA Cleveland Middle School

Teacher, Christina Foschia

The 12 Dancing Princesses by Hana Samad

That night, after the long, late meeting he was obligated to attend as CEO of the largest electricity producer in the States, Mr. Solace found himself leaning on the cool wooden, steel reinforced door of his Chinatown Boston mansion.  Tiredly he place his thumb over the fingerprint scanner that opened the door, it glowed blue and said in a smooth British feminine voice,

“Welcome home sir.”

“Thank you madam,” he replied briskly.

He was not the kind of man who liked to dawdle in small talk, especially with artificial intelligence.

As he walked over the hardwood floor, black leather briefcase swinging in hand, the heels of his sleek dress shoes clacked smartly, the noise echoing across the human void room.

He tore at the constraining red tie around his neck, balling it up, he threw it angrily at the leather couch.  Stocks fell dramatically today, and yet the supposed geniuses he hired couldn’t tell him why.  He needed something strong tonight.

Walking behind the granite bar counter, specked in blacks, grays, pinks, and whites, he reached for the lock on his liquor cabinet.  Rummaging through, he finally decided on a shot glass, filled with the strongest stuff known to the world, Spirytus Delikatesowy; it would do the job nicely.  Looking down at his watch, he registered the time, 12:00.

Let me say goodnight to the girls before I drink this.

He could imagine what their mother, Cai, would have said about his drink,

She laughed her almond, amber eyes, evidence of her Chinese heritage, sparkling, brimming with laughter as she twisted away from him.  He tugged on her arm pulling back to him, breathless as the Tage, a traditional Chinese dance, tended to do.  They spun, clapping to the beat, stepped back from one another again, and gave a quick bow that signified the end of the dance. Cai’s inky blue-black hair hung like a curtain around her, brushing across the floor.  It was parted and she peeked at him, a sly smile playing across her face.

“We should do this again some time,” she said, her voice a bit raspy.

“We will,” he replied quietly, reaching over to brush a kiss over her knuckles.

Her lips quirked upwards and a modest schoolgirl blush crept onto her face.  “After twenty years of this you would have though the butterflies would have gone away.”

“Awww… you make us sound so old, we’re only 35 and you have at least 20 more years with me, maybe those butterflies will leave eventually…”

She hummed softly.  “Never.  You have 20 more years to get tired of me.”

He walked behind the dimly lit bar, brought out the drink shaker, and shook it encouragingly.

“What would the lady like to drink?”

She scowled playfully.  “You know I can’t drink, I’m pregnant you idiot!”  She punctuated her words with a light hit.

“Water then, and a margarita for myself.  Then we can head home.”  He paused and said, “I hope those 7 haven’t given that babysitter too much stress.”

Her face visibly darkened and she was alarmingly quiet as the result of his first statement.

“What’s wrong,” he asked as he reached across the table for her hand.  But she snatched it back.

Fixing her serious, swirling orbs to his, she stared, “Promise me you’ll never drink around the girls. Never,” she said, rubbing at a place on her forearm.

Understanding flooded in.

Cai’s father was an alcoholic, he used to come home a drunken mess and beat her up for the smallest things.  One time going as far as to break her arm in 3 places and cut a long gash on her face, from her left eye diagonally to her jaw, the gift of his broken beer bottle.

“You know I would never do that.  Ever. Right? he said fiercely.

“I know, but promise me anyway.  Keith promise me now you won’t!  Tell me NOW!!!” she insisted frantically, vehemently waving her arms around. “I just don’t want them to…”  She never finished that thought as sobs were ripped from her, her body repeatedly jerking from the ferocity.

He sat next to her, holding her as she grasped at his shirt, rubbing soothing circles between her shoulders.  He rocked her back and forth, comforting her, then whispered,  “I promise okay? I promise.”

After hearing that, her sobs slowed and quieted and they sat holding onto each other in a show of quiet understanding. They rocked back and forth until the moon started its slow descent to the horizon.

She died later that year.

When he went up to their room to say his goodnight, just as the night before, they were gone.  Their Converse, flats, and in case of the older ones, heels, vanished without a trace.  Beds made, pillows (fluffed) plush, curtains blowing from the soft summer breeze, in front of the opened white-rimmed windows of the second floor mansion.  Not a sign that 12 young women occupied the floor during the day.

Their father sighed and rubbed his face half-heatedly.  It was times like this when he missed his wife’s presence more than ever.  She would’ve known what to do, how to talk to them.  He wasn’t cut out for this, one 60year old widower with 12 daughters; 8 were adopted during their travels having been left to die in trash bins, 4 were conceived by the couple.  The oldest (24) finished medical school, the youngest (8) is in the 3rd grade.  His middle children are on their way to college and the other one is in that awkward, moody teenager drama stage.  He honestly can’t remember who his playgirl daughters latest “flavor” was – whether it be boy or girl.  When people asked when she would commit to a steady relationship, Daiyu just laughed, flicked her long, black hair over her should and claimed, she’d like to, “broaden her horizons,” which in girl language meant: never.  He had no doubt by the time she finished high school she’s has dated the entire student population, maybe even the younger, available teachers.

Heavens no, he thought again, shaking his head as he gripped the railing and started the long descent down spiral staircase.  In the pale moonlight, his hair glowed silver as a testament to his next statement:  I’m too old for this.

He was worried about them, but at the very least they had Yue, his oldest and motherly one of the girls, so at least what they were doing was legal… Good lord let it be legal.  Mr. Solace sure as heck wasn’t going to bail them out, at least for a while.  I’ll teach ‘em a lesson, jail build character.  It had been like this for the past month, MIA during the night and in the morning nothing but exhausted eyes and knowing smiles and “Pass The Coffee” all around.  He knew they left because each morning before the early rays of dawn, he hauled himself out from under his warm covers and checked to see if they had returned.  When he sleepily cracked open their door, he could see the glow of charging phones, all ranging anywhere between 5030% as if they had been used vigorously throughout the night.  Oddly enough, sums of money were disappearing from Yue’s bank account as well.  He couldn’t trace where it was going either, because the hacker in his family, Wing, who was recruited by the CIA at 15, made sure there was no trace or trail to track where the money was going.

What are they up to?

11:30 the day previous

Wing wondered how exactly she got herself into this.  One minute she was obliviously clickety clacking on her amped up, modified MacBook, gaining the security codes to all North Korea’s deepest, darkest, dirty secrets and the next she’s being dragged out a winder, told to “be quiet” in less than kind… “cough” terms by her seemingly innocent 8 year old sister, Rou.  Ironically her name is Chinese (as is all of the sister’s names), it means gentle, and yet she had the vocabulary of a sailor.  Wing could tell your from first-hand experience, what came out of that mouth was anything but gentle.  She mused over what their father would say if he knew what came out of his “previous little angel’s” mouth.  He probably wouldn’t believe it anyway.  Now she was sitting in one of 3 glossy, black limos driving up the brick paved streets of one of the oldest districts in Boston.

For the most part though the hacker had known what she had been getting herself into, when her older sister, Anguo or Angie, recruited her for the project saying, “It’s your civic duty as a citizen of the world.”  For the past month, her sisters and she had been sneaking out and, ahem, borrowing money from their Dad’s bank account, he had plenty, and the US Treasury; all for good reasons of course.

It would be “fun” they said, “We’ll be helping people” they said, “you won’t have to do much,” they said.

LIES.

Wing ended up being stationed in front of a computer, fingers flying furiously, pressing keys hard enough to break them.  She was working 11:30 – 4:30 on nothing but coffee and sheer willpower.

Oh this had better be worth it.

 8.A.M. a week later

Mr. Solace was fed up.

Another week of not knowing had passed, and he was tired of being kept in the dark.

His Armani suit clad body moved with a purpose, walking in a clipped fashion down the spotless, blinding white hallways of the hospital Yue worked in.  It had that weird hospital smell – a blend of instant coffee, sterilized needles, and the inside of his leather briefcase.  He wanted answers and he knew just where he was going to get them.

He paused outside the rich chocolate covered wood door that bore a golden plaque inscribed with the names Dr. Yue Solace and R.N. Kleitos Myles.  Looking at it he felt a surge of overwhelming pride.

She’s finally made it, her childhood dream of becoming a doctor was true, it had been for 2 years, but the fatherly pride rushed back every time.  Her remembered when she used to call him late at night, over the phone telling him how exhausted she was because of the internal surgery she just conducted, that everyone there was so much older than her, and how, after 3 years of being at Med school, she finally met a friend.

Him.

Kleitos.

Bloody.

Mylese.

Friend bah, for such a smart girl Yue could be quite oblivious at times.  He wasn’t a fool, he knew a man in love when he saw one, and that boy, that Myles kid, was head over heals for his Yue.

He just knew it.

It wasn’t just a father’s overly protective paranoia either; he had seen it firsthand with his own two peepers.

One day he walked into Yue’s office, lunch in hand, ready to surprise her since his sweet girl often forgot to remember to take care of herself because she was so worried about everyone else.  It was her birthday – she was turning 25.  He had walked through her office door smiling… and was greeted by a dark, still, empty room.

Maybe the secretary would know?

The secretary said that Yue and her partner, Kleitos, went out for lunch and she was unsure when they would return, but could take a message.

Keith Solace prided himself on being a man in control of emotions, he rarely lost his temper – even less when he was in public – and he seldom raises his voice.  In the case however, he was ashamed to say he saw red.

He ignored the receptionist and stormed away in a one-track mindset.

Find that boy and rescue his innocent daughter from out of his vile clutches.

He found them at a small Greek café, laughing over a plate of gyros and fries.  Kleitos said something and Yue, smiling, picked up her gyre and offered him a bite, which Kleitos took in stride.

Of course he would.  Mr. Solace shifted his newspaper so he could see well.  They were getting up now, packing up their leftovers and went to the register to pay.  He saw Yue reaching in her purse, drawing out her maroon wallet to pay, Kleitos was faster though.  The boy (he’d always be the boy in Mr. Solace’s mind, it didn’t matter that he was 26), set a 20-dollar bill on the counter.  He had to hand it to the kid; for all his faults he was a least chivalrous.

He could make out his daughter protesting, gesturing to her money as they squabbled for a bit and finally the boy was relenting and they both paid.  Thatta girl he thought.

They strode off down the snowy avenue, Yue balancing on the edge of the sidewalk, holding her arms out to the side to steady herself.

Mr. Solace followed, putting his head down, he started to walk a decent distance away from the friends.

Kleitos suddenly stopped and pulled Yue gently to his side, he pulled something out of his coat and Mr. Solace strained to look at it.

It was a box.  A small black box.

He started to panic.

That had better not be an engagement ring, boy.

 Yue opened it and even from his place behind a wall he could see the grin that lit up her face in a breathtaking smile.  It was a necklace.

Mr. Solace exhaled.

A thin silver chain that held a shimmering crescent moon studded by diamonds, and inside the curve was  a pure silver sun hanging from the tip.

Yue Solace.

Yue, the moon. Solace or Sol, the Spanish word for sun.

It was perfect.

She flung herself into Kleitos’ arms giving him an enormous hug.  He hugged her back.  His lips moved and he seemed to be saying happy birthday.  Yue stepped back and held out the necklace, prompting Kleitos to hold it.  She lifted her waterfall of black hair revealing her neck, waiting for him to put it on her.  Suddenly the R.N. stiffened and Mr. Solace was close enough to hear why.

Yue practically crushed the boy’s heart in just a few sentences and even Mr. Solace had to feel sorry for the kid. 

Kle, this is… gorgeous.  I…I…I don’t know what to say… You know I love you right?  You’re my amazing best friend… I didn’t think anyone remembered. God, what did I do to deserve a friend like you.

She just… what did the kids nowadays call it… ah, friendzoned him.

Twice.  Ouch!

At the unexpected pause, Yue turned around to see what the hold up was,  and Kleitos hastily put it around her neck.

There.  Solid proof of the boy’s affections.

As much as he was going to regret this, he needed answers, and was about to make the boy a deal he couldn’t turn down.

Mr. Solace brought his hand down on the door and knocked twice before stepping back and waiting.

The door cracked open and a handsome man in white scrubs walked out holding a clipboard.  Kleitos Myles was a looker. Based off his name alone Mr. Solace knew the boy had ancestors from Greece, he had the features too.  Myles had white teeth that were a stark contrast to his bronze Mediterranean skin that exerted a faint glow.  His aqua eyes were positioned above high cheekbones, and his hair was medium brown, like flax.  He supposed his daughter could do worse.

“How may I help you?,” asked the boy.  He started out with an easygoing smile but that  disappeared as he stood up straighter and practically saluted when he realized who it was.  “Hello Mr. Solace, are you looking for Yue?  She called in sick today.”

“No. May I come in?”  Mr. Solace said more demanding than asking.

“Of course sir.”  Kleitos was falling all over himself, pulling out chairs and offering him instant coffee.

“Do I look like I drink that stuff?”

“N…no sir.”

“Good, now let me get to the point.  I know you love my daughter.”  Mr. Solace said this bluntly.

“Yes – what sir?!  I don’t know what you’re talking about.  Not this Kleitos sir.  Haha…. Trying to pull a fast one on me sir – hilarious.  We’re just friends…”  The boy fumbled with his denial and Mr. Solace continued as if he hadn’t heard.

“Now I don’t like the idea and to be honest,

I.

Do.

Not.

Like.

“You.”  He paused and sighed deeply as if it pained him to admit his next statement.

“However, I need your help and I’m gracious enough to help you with your miserable love life and set you two up. Don’t let it get to your head either, you will never be worthy enough for her and if you make her sad at all,  I’ll send my security after you and rest assured they will find you.   Are we clear?  Also, I want you to name your first daughter Cai after her late grandmother, and that will be all.”

“Children sir  But I’m only 26, and…”

A glare stopped him.  “You are planning on marrying her eventually correct?”

“Yes, but – “

“Then I expected grandkids.  And quit with the sir, you may call me Mr. Keith, now to the plan.”  Mr. Solace’s voice left no room for argument.

“My 12 daughters are up to something, and as you are,”  Mr. Solace coughed lightly and stared accusingly at Kleitos, “close to my daughter I am inviting you over to the mansion for dinner.  You may spend time with Yue and after you  “leave” you’ll sit in the parking lot in the invisible car.”  Mr. Solace tossed Kleitos a pair of keys, which he caught smoothly, and said, “you are to follow them tonight, the address is attached, and I’ll expect a report tomorrow.”

Mr. Solace strolled out of the room, veiny hands in his pockets, quietly whistling a tune that sounds suspiciously like Here Comes The Bride, leaving Kleitos alone and looking dumbstruck.

After 5 minutes of sorting his thoughts, Kleitos pulled out his iPhone 7, unlocked it (the password was 12358) and pressed a set of numbers he was very familiar with.  He looked at the screen for a moment contemplating whether to dial.  She’s never going to let me hear the end of this, but… he did need help.  Sucking in a deep breath he lifted a single digit and pressed the green button.  His mother’s smiling face filled the screen.  Here goes nothing.

That night at 8:30 outside the Chinatown Mansion

 Kleitos was nervous.

Sitting outside your soon-to-be-maybe-girlfriend-who is-currently-your-best-friend-and-had-no-clue-how-you-felt-about-her’s mansion for dinner and afterwards spying on her, tended to do that to you.

He was ecstatic when he first heard the news that he had his friend’s father’s blessing and did a little impromptu air-guitar solo in the middle of his office… then reality sunk in.

He was going to spy on Yue, who was doing what exactly?

 He didn’t know, and didn’t know if he wanted to know.  Well it’s too late now.  Turns out the invisible care was also a self-driving car, which proceeded to open the door and eject him outside the front doors, then parallel parked itself between the other sport cars.

Standing in front of the manor doors he pressed the intercom and announced himself to the AI.

“Kleitos Myles here, by request of Mr. Keith Solace.”  He waited a beat and then added, “could you tell Yue I’m here.”

The white orb flashed blue twice indicating it understood. 

“Come in Romeo, Juliet says she’ll be done in a minute; please take a seat in the dinning room.”  The AI sounded amused.

“I’m not-“ he started. 

“I can tell when you’re lying…” it said singy-songy.

Kleitos mumbled something under his breath that sounded like, “Bloody AI… good for nothing piece of BS… we’ll see who’s laughing when I upload a virus…”

These thoughts comforted him and with a smile on his face he strolled in.

The entry hall was huge.  Actually, it was more of a courtyard than an entry hall.  It had bamboo floors and smooth white marble pillars with ornate golden dragons curled around the top and bottom.  Their scales looked like each one was individually carved with the loving hands of an aged and experienced master, and if you looked close enough you could see sparkling ruby eyes glittering like they knew a secret.  There was a waterfall that flowed into a Koi fishpond that was the true centerpiece of the room.  The Koi swam leisurely, about 10 of them, a combination of gold, spotted, black and pure white, and the pool lights shone from underneath the rippling water illuminating it softly.  Fire colored Lotus flowers floated on top, the skylight allowed the light of the moon to kiss the surface of the water and paper lanterns lit the rest of the room.  It was gorgeous, and it sucked the breath out of his lungs and served as a reminder of who his friend really was.

While he was lost in the land of thoughts, he failed to notice said friend sneaking up behind him.  Kleitos felt hands touch his shoulders and he was startled out of his thoughts, turning around to face his best friend and partner.

His face broke out in a grin.

“Hey,” he said mentally slapping himself.  Very smooth Kleitos. Hey.

 “Hey yourself,” she said with her adorable lopsided little smile.  “Fancy seeing you here of all places.  Sorry, but we can’t hang out tonight, my Dad’s having someone over for dinner and wants all of us here to greet him.”  She rolled her eyes a little bit.

“It’s me.”  He cleared his throat but with her puzzled expression he decided to clarify himself. “The person you’re expecting, the guest, the guest is me, I mean I am the guest.”  He was getting frustrated with the way he could not form a coherent sentence.

Her eyes widened evidently shocked.  He could relate to the feeling because he was dumbstruck when Mr. Keith extended the invitation.  Even more so after he learned his mission.  It made talking to Yue hard because somehow it was betraying her trust, but he was only doing it, to in essence, gain her trust.  Oh the morals of it all.

 He massaged the back of his neck gingerly.

“He never does anything without a reason you know.  He has a reason for inviting you over and I want to know why.”  She sounds determined and has that glint in her eyes he’s come to fear.

“Gee thanks,” has says dryly.

“Come on, let’s go get some food.  My Dad awaits.”

Dinner went by uneventfully, aside from the knowing glares from Mr. Keith, the occasional well-aimed flying meatball (he suspected the little one, Rou?) and the amazing 8 course meal he just completely indulged himself in, or course.

Look at you.  Have you no shame?  I know that is not how I raised my boy, you are a guest young man.  Are you trying to kill me?  The over dramatic nagging voice of his mother chided him and he remembered his manners immediately.

Mr. Solace made eye contact and he knew that was his cue.

Clearing his throat he stood up, politely thanked the chefs for the meal, said goodbye to everyone and made an excuse about catching up on paperwork.  He showed himself to the door.

Once outside he walked to the invisible car that he had taken to calling his Burglar.  Kleitos sank into its leather chair with a sigh, pulled out his phone to watch Lord of the Rings, and prepared for a long wait.

12:00 am outside the Chinatown Mansion

After an hour and a half of waiting he finally saw 3 sets of lights backing out of the driveway.

He slowly started driving behind them, not too close, not too far.  That was his first mistake.  At 9:00 in Boston the roads are busy and hard to navigate unless you are familiar with them.  But trailing is never a good idea as it is easy to get stuck in traffic and the first night that was exactly what happened to Kleitos.

He sat defeatedly in traffic behind more than 10 cars that were moving at a crawl (he disabled the invisibility earlier) and all he could do now is watch as 3 limos sped off without him.  He took out his phone and snapped a picture of his surroundings as proof for Mr. Keith that he had been tailing them.  He took several pictures of the glittering silver freedom trail seal.  After waiting 15 more minutes he finally got out of line and made a U-turn and returned home unsuccessful.

Same time as the day previous

 Kleitos was ready this time.  He would follow so closely you could slip a piece of paper between the last lime and his car.  Well, maybe not that close but still.

When the cars pulled out this time, Kleitos started the ignition quickly and what he thought was quietly, until he heard a small voice come floating in through the window.

“Don’t you hear that?  Wing, I heard a car do you think it’s Dad?” Said Rou in a high, breezy voice.

“Ha, I thought you said you weren’t scared of the dark anymore? Chicken?” Wing remarked smugly.

“I am,”  Rou protested.  “And I am not a chicken.  I hear something…”  She trailed off and was silent.

They cruised past the place where Kleitos lost them last night and he began to think he would get to the bottom of their midnight disappearances.

 Alas fate seemed to be favoring the girls.

They were driving through the slums now.  Abandoned buildings all spray-painted in bold neon colored letters adorned the walls of the empty streets.

Suddenly Kleitos heard a crunch crunch as he rolled down the street.  Almost like… glass, he thought as the tire light came on.  He looked back and forth between the dashboard and the cars he was close to.  Making a choice the R.N. slowed the car to a stop, waited till the lights receded, and then he got out to replace the tire.

Once again he pulled out his phone and started snapping pictures of his location.  His most important picture was of a trendy store called Glitzy Gold.  Lowering his phone he rolled his eyes, as if gold would be anything but glitzy?  He was close this time, and tomorrow would be the day.  He just knew it.

12:01, 2 days after the unsuccessful first attempt

The moon glowed brightly in his mirror reminding him exactly why he took on this mad task in the first place. 

Yue.  God.  Dang it she’d better realize how deep his feelings are and she totally needed to invite him over more often.  What other gadgets did her father have?

After another 20 minutes of driving and successful tailing, the limos ahead finally stopped in front of an old brick hotel.

The girls got out and he couldn’t tell which one was his friend until he say the distinct shimmer of Yue’s moon sun necklace and then he couldn’t stop that grin that made is way onto his face.

She was wearing it! Score.

The group of 12 unlocked the hand-worked iron door and stepped inside.  As they did, he could see something fall off a girl and roll across the floor stopping at his foot.  He picked it up and examined it.  It was a diamond earring.  He would use this as proof tonight, since Mr. Solace would know which daughter it belonged to and count find its missing twin.  Swiftly pocketing the jewel, Kleitos shoved a foot in the doorway to keep it from shutting.  He slipped in and was surprised to see a fully furnished reception area.

The room had marble floors, with a red velvet carpet leading the way to the elevator.  Men stood in circles sipping out of glasses, and women held the hands of impatient children.  A homeless looking guy with a scruffy duffel bag and a tent (?) stood in line with several other people, waiting to talk to the receptionist and receive, what looked like, a room key and a stack of 100 dollar bills.  It was finally the man’s turn and he chatted quietly, thanked who he was talking to and hurried off to a restaurant area.

A giant poster with a smiling woman dressed in black formal attire read,

Need help finding a job?  Need help getting back on your feet?  Head up to the front desk and ask for Solace.  Thanks for staying at Hotel Solace!

Was this a homeless shelter?  Is that what they are doing?

 Kleitos walked casually up to the front desk.  He asked the receptionist a couple questions and found out that this was indeed a homeless shelter.  They provide food, shelter, monetary assistance, medical assistance, and help provide an education and a stable job for those seeking help.

After leaving his contact information offering his services as an R.N. he walked away from the desk and saw a teenage girl – one of the Solace sisters maybe? – helping a sickly looking old Mexican woman with her plastic bag get into the elevator, and, presumably to her room.

This is what they had been doing and it was amazing.

Boston was known as a homeless hotspot and what these girls were doing was unprecedented, if not a little unrealistic.  To do this for the entire city would be a challenge but they could sort out those details later.  They were already helping almost 200 people and families and the moment, that’s what matters.  And this is his Yue, always doing something to help her fellow humans.

Kleitos smiled fondly, putting his hands in his pockets, toying with the earring, and exiting the doors of the Hotel Solace.  He had a father to talk to.

Mr. Solace was relieved to find out that his daughters would not become fugitives and that they were actually doing something beneficial – their mom would have loved it!  That said, it didn’t stop him from grounding all of them for 3 weeks, though Wing, somehow, managed to retrieve her laptop.  He was beyond proud of them.  They had grown up to be generous and caring girls, just like princesses.  His 12 blessed princesses.  He thought he must be the luckiest man in the world.

Epilogue or 3 years later

The narrator is pleased to announce the midnight escapades of the sisters 12 ended, a while ago actually, and to Wings great joy, her work takes place between the reasonable hours of 9:00 and 9:00 pm.  Wing is successfully working as Director of the CIA; her hacking skills still unmatched.  Though she will not admit it, she is often the recipient of mysterious pay raises, online lottery wins and travel sweepstakes vacations.  Wing pleads the 5th.

Ah, the beautiful Daiyu, is now in her last month of her senior year of high school and in the early edition of the school yearbook was given the title Boston’s Most Available Bachelorette.  She broke the unspoken record of dating the entire high school + all the young, available teachers.  She also went on to become a model and upcoming Hollywood star.  Currently she is dating the most eligible athlete, 19-year-old Alexander Chase, who is praised to be the next LeBron James.  They have been in a record setting steady relationship, for 7 months, which is the longest for either of them.

Yue finally woke up from whatever state of oblivion she was in and has realized her feeling for Kleitos are more than just platonic after Kleitos had told her first about his feelings.  Regardless they started dating almost 3 years ago and became engaged 2 years ago.  Today they are happily married and expecting their first children – twins – Cai and Shaun Myles.  Kleitors and Mr. Solcace’s relationship has improved greatly as well.  After one and a half years, they decided they must try for Yue so they have formed a tentative “friendship” over their love of the Red Sox, new techie gadgets, and gyros.

Mr. Solace is very busy.  After the spying mission carried out by Kleitos he was so proud to hear of the work of his daughters that he immediately called in his PR advisor to advertise the Hotel Solace.  Hotel Solace soon received and anonymous donation of a half a billion dollars.  But apparently the donor didn’t know the meaning of the word anonymous and signed the donation – YOUR DADDY WHO IS PROUD OF YOU GIRLS.  Thanks to that donation, chains of Hotel Solaces are popping up all over the US of A.

Rou, “Daddy’s little angel,” has sadly, never been cured of her sailor tongue and most importantly, she has never been caught.  Daddy’s little angel turned out to be the criminal of the 12.  She ended up the world’s most wanted criminal for releasing all the rocket ships in the world and stealing one of her own and using it to successfully hijack the International Space Station and turn it and its residents into the galaxy’s first dictatorship.  Angie had quite a lot to say on this subject.  She claimed it was tarnish on her political record and would ruin her chances of being elected as President in 10 years.  She is currently serving in the Senate. 

The other 7 sisters have assorted careers as follows:  a chef, dancer, engineer, real estate agent, activist, archaeologist, and a high school student.

The Solace-Myles’s live happily, popping in for impromptu visits to the ISS, watching Red Sox games, running Hotel Solace, eating gyros and most importantly, they love each other.  And that is pretty darn close to a real life happily ever after.

The End

1st place – High School Category

9th grader at HSA Dayton High School

Teacher, Rachel Logsdown

Little Red by Olivia Costa

I wiggled into my corset, not tying it very tight.  After all, it was for costume purposes.  After adjusting it slightly, I slipped on my dress. 

Halloween was my favorite holiday.  My Gran and I always made my costume together.  This year I was Little Red Riding Hood, which was ironic since I have flaming red hair and my name is Scarlett.  I hated my name, and the color red, but she insisted, and honestly, how could I say no to a sweet, little old lady? Didn’t think so either.  It’s not just her, though.  My family lives and breathes irony.  My cousin was born with almost white blonde hair, so they named her Ivory.

After tying the dress, with some difficulty I might add, I looked into the mirror and was shocked.  I looked older.   Not exactly like an adult, but definitely a teenager.  I’m fourteen years old, but I developed rather later, so I always looked about twelve.  But now I looked older, more mature.  I took the homemade cloak from my bed and went downstairs.  I found my Mom in the living room, looking for something, with much frustration.

“Hey, Mom.  What do you think?”  She barely glanced at me from where she was kneeling and looking under the front of the couch.

“Looks great, Hun.”  I suppressed the urge to force her attention on me.  I know how busy and stressed she gets.  That’s actually one of the reasons I’m so close to my Gran.  She basically had to take care of me while my parents worked.  They are the definition of workaholics.  I have tried to be understanding but sometimes it hurts, like it does now.

“Thanks, Mom… do you know where Gran is? “ I asked, hoping she was paying enough attention to at least hear me and answer.

“The garden I think,” she said distractedly.  “Hey do you know where –?” she cuts me off.

“Try your coat, the fridge, and the car. If not then check your office,” I said, interrupting her.  I tied my cloak to my neck and started heading for the door.

“Oh, right.  Thanks Red.” 

I was out the door before I could respond.  Gran was by the lilies, watering and talking to them.  She always told me that talking to plants or playing them some music, helps them grow.  I walked over and gently touched her shoulder.

“Hey, Gran,” I said, speaking softly.  She’s a feisty lady, but sometimes the pain of old age gets to  be too much.  She usually comes to that garden when that happens so it is best to keep everything gentle so not to startle her and let her get her bearings.

“Hi, Red. Oh let’s get a look at you!” she said, happily, but having slight trouble standing up.  I gripped her arm gently as she finally stood.  She stepped back and grinned brightly, her pale, blue eyes twinkling. 

“Oh, Red you look wonderful!”  I grinned and twirled around.

“Why, thank you.  I had a great seamstress,” I said happily.  She laughed in agreement.  Her expression changed briefly before coming to rest on a small smile.

“Come with me, I have something for you,” she said, gently taking my hand.  I let her lead me back to her house.  I helped her kneel beside her bed, knowing she keeps her private or precious things under her bed.  She slowly but surely brought out a medium black box with gold trim and red swirls all around.  I’d never seen it before but it seemed familiar.  I helped her up and then we sat on the bed together.

“So what is it, Gran?”  I asked, my curiosity going crazy.  She gave me a small smile and opened the box.  Inside was a beautiful, silver dagger with a ruby rose on either side of the handle along with emerald vines originating from the roses and wrapping out and around it.   “Oh, wow,” I whispered, tracing the vines with my finger.

“That’s what I said when I first got it, too,” she said with her almost smile.  I giggled a bit.

“May I?” I asked, gesturing toward the box.   She nodded and handed it to me.  I lifted the dagger gingerly while examining it.  It fit perfectly in my hand. “Is it mine?” I asked in a whisper.  She again nodded.  I received presents from her quite often but this seemed more personal and intimate.  She patted my hair softly and stood up.

“I need a favor from you, Red.”  Shocked by her suddenness, I nodded.  “I need you to run some books down to your aunt’s for me, please,” she said, sounding weak.  I stood up quickly and moved closer to her.

“Yeah, of course.”  I was surprised that she was allowing me into the words for the first time, but the weakness in her voice stopped any questions that I had.

“Thank you dear.  I’ll go get them,” she said as she walked into the next room.  She came back moments later with a handful of old books, and a bag.  He handed me both so I set the box down.  “No, take it with you.  The knife I mean,” she said quickly.  Again, surprised by her actions I simply nodded, took the dagger from the box, and put it in my book in a way that insured it would not cut me.  Then I headed for the door.

“Bye, I’ll be back soon,” I said before walking out.  I heard a loud, hard sigh before shutting the door.

I screamed in pain.  My stomach felt as if it was going to swallow itself, except that feeling spread throughout my body, and became intensified by a hundred.

“Max!” I groaned at my Father’s voice.  I knew a punishment was coming.  Another more intense wave of pain came, my body coiled into a ball.  Another scream escaped my throat.

“Max, you have to hunt.  Why do you do this to yourself?  To me?” my Father asked, saying the last part in a whisper, tears falling from his eyes at the sight of me.  I have to hunt for myself now since he’s far too old to hunt for two.  The typical age for people like me to start hunting is 15.  I, however, hate the feeling of killing something with my bare hands.  It makes me feel so evil and disgusting.

“I can’t,” I managed to say through clenched teeth.

“But you will, my son.  You will,” he said, through his tears.  There was something else in his voice.   Even through my pain, I heard it.  Before I could respond or even process the actions unfolding before me, I was carried to my father’s car and strapped down.  I howled in pain and started to growl.  No, this can’t be happening.  “My son, I love you, but you have to learn.  I will not lose you like I lost your mother,” he said, in a terribly sad voice.  I began to thrash and howl.  I stopped when the pain became too much.  The only sound in the car was my screams.  The anxiety almost distracted me from my pain. Almost.  I had no idea what my father was planning, but I knew he was going to force my hand.  I just wished I knew how.  The car stopped moving, but I barely registered it until my father got out and unstrapped me.  I tired to thrash against him, but I couldn’t manage any movement.  He laid me on the ground and kissed my head.

“I love you,” he whispered before getting in his car and driving away quickly.  I took a deep breath and stood up.  I could only manage a crouch.  I stumbled through the forest until I found a trail.  There was a young girl, dressed in an old fashioned dress and a bright, scarlet cloak, her red hair flowed over her shoulders.  She looked beautiful. And delicious.  I tried to back away, but the pain became more than I could handle.  I yelled out.  She jumped up and stared at me, her brown eyes meeting mine.  My vision blurred. Oh no!

The walk wasn’t bad.  There was not any sign of animals.  I can’t figure out why they were so strict and would not let me come here.  I walked in silence, taking in my surroundings.  I was almost halfway there when I heard a scream.  I turned toward the noise to find a handsome, blonde boy crouching in pain.  His blue eyes looked into mine before shutting tightly.

“Oh my god, are you okay?  Oh, what am I saying?  You’re obviously not.  Can I help you at all?” I asked, rushing over to him.

“No,” He yells, “Stay away,” he warned me.  I frown at the boy who obviously needed help.

“Don’t be silly, you can’t even stand. Here, let me help,” I reach for his arm, and he looks at me again.  This time, his eyes are bright yellow.  Like a cat stalking its prey.    His teeth began to grow and he began to growl.  I stepped back instinctively.  Before my eyes, his body transformed from a beautiful, young man to a frightening beast.  I didn’t have time to react before he lunged and I end up in his mouth.  He’s not even chewing me, just swallowing me whole, his teeth scraping my sides as I go down.  I began to scream, but who would hear you scream in the belly of a beast?  It was just then that I remembered the dagger Gran gave me.  I reached for it, but it was difficult.  There wasn’t a lot of room.   Finally, I felt the slightly warm metal with the touch of my fingers and inspiration pushed through the terror in my mind.

I was the beast in control.  I felt her slim body slide down my throat.  The satisfaction of her tender skin being torn even a little pleased my wolf so greatly.  I, on the other hand, felt completely and utterly disgusted.  I tried to throw her up, but the beast wouldn’t let me.  This is what happens when you starve him.  He will have what he wants and you won’t have a choice in the matter.  I couldn’t live with that.  I loved my life, but I didn’t deserve it after such a heinous crime.  I would end it all myself if I had to.  I just knew I wouldn’t want to live with what I had done.  A sharp pain from my stomach took me from my thoughts.  The pain just grew and grew.  I was on the ground, howling in pain and before I knew it blood started pooling around me, and my vision began to blur again.  I stayed conscious though just long enough to see the beautiful girl crawl out from me.  Tears of pure happiness formed as I slipped into oblivion.

I pulled myself out and crawled away from him.  His body turned back to normal as he died.  Before I could react, he turned to dust, leaving his clothes behind on the ground.  I pulled my fists to my chest and wept.  I wept with an pain I’ve never known.  I had killed a man.  Not just a man, but a beast.  He was man nonetheless.  I should have heeded his warning.  I should’ve listened.  We both might have been just fine if I had done what he demanded.  He must have family, I thought?  Someone who’ll miss him, right?  I did this.  I laid down, still in a ball, and wept more than I had ever wept in my life.

 ______________________________________________

We have announced the theme selected by our Concept Schools’ network for 2016/2017

Wear Your Imagination Inside Out

Awards:

1st, 2nd, and 3 place prizes will be given in 3 categories – high school, middle school, and elementary; $100, $75, and $50 respectively.  And wherever applicable a $25 for honorable mention.  In addition, winners will work with the Director of English and their teachers to finalize their winning entries for publication. 

Winners will be announced in March.

Click On Image to Download Poster

writing-contest-2017

 

2016/2017 Writing Contest

Theme:  Wear Your Imagination Inside Out

Rationale:  We are inspired by different things.  Our inspiration is as diverse as the people and environments that we inhabit.  The word imagination implies we go inside and bring what is there out for the world to see. We want to know how this process works for you. So, please, select a prompt and start writing. 

Prompts:

  • Imagine that you have some magical capabilities.  Explain what you would do with them to inspire the world.
  • Re-write a fairy tale.* Give it a new ending and change it to make it even more inspiring.
  • Use a picture that inspires you and describe it to your reader.
  • Inspiration is often portrayed as a bright light.*  Describe a time that you came out of the dark and followed the light of inspiration.
  • Describe a time when you were inspired by music and explain what happened.

 

Grade Level Differentiation – Essays:

3-5th grade, expository and narrative essays or fairy tale minimum of 300 words

6 – 8th grade, expository, narrative essays or fairy tale minimum of 500 words

9 – 12th grade, expository, narrative essays or fairy tale minimum of 600 words

Grade Level Differentiation – Poems:

*These two prompts may also be written as a poem 

Poem for 3 – 5 grade, 5 to 10 lines minimum

Poem for 6- 8th grade, 15 – 20 lines minimum

Poem for 9 – 12th grade, 20 to 30 lines minimum

Rules and Guidelines:

  1. Contest is open to any student (grade 3 or higher) who is part of Concept Schools.
  2. Teachers may submit as many entries as they wish as long as student work has been written, revised, and edited.
  3. Work is submitted as follows:
    1. Teacher submits all student work via email with a list of students they are attaching: name/grade level.
    2. All entries must be formatted as follows: name, school name, grade level, and name of prompt with the words “poem” or “essay.” Entries must be typed (minimum 18 point font – max 22 point font) or neatly hand-written. Teacher rubric must be attached. See sample
  4. Entries may be submitted to aflaherty@conceptschools.org from November 14th – February 24th.
    1. Entries will not be returned, so please keep a copy for your records.
    2. All decisions about winners are subject to the judgment of the Concept judging panel. Scoring will be done with the same rubrics as two attached (expository/narrative will use the same).

Note:  Please encourage your students to check out the list below and support them in submitting their work to other competitions!

Rubrics below

wearyourimaginationinsideoutpromptsrubrics

32 Other Writing Competitions for Students

32 Writing Contests for Teens (Publication & Cash)

Download the attached prompts and requirements:

wearyourimaginationinsideoutpromptsrubrics

Poster Design Coming in December 2016!  If you need any information, contact Andy Flaherty at aflaherty@conceptschools.org

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

writingposter

WritingPoster2016

 

From Idea to Concept, Sharpening Our Classroom Writing

Concept English Writing Competition 2015/2016

Prompts:

 3rd Grade Personal Narrative: Students will describe their local community and how it helps them.

Opinion/Personal Speech:  Students will write a speech on a personal opinion of a school rule.

(These are embedded in the 3rd grade Interdisciplinary Units)  For more information contact Don Shanahan at shanahan@conceptschools.org

4th Grade Journeys – Informative Essay, students write a news report about a school-wide event or activity that happened in their building.  Pages T52-55

Journeys – Persuasive Letter, students write a persuasive letter to convince financial backers in the community to donate to a possible project or need in their classroom. Pages T206-209

For more information reach out to Don Shanahan at shanahan@conceptschools.org

5th Grade Journeys – Fictional Narrative, students write a fictional narrative about a main character that overcomes a challenge that would change their life. Pages T284-287, T358-361

Journeys – Informative Essay, students write a cause/effect essay about something humans do to contribute to the habitat destruction of animals. Pages T208-211

For more information reach out to Don Shanahan at shanahan@conceptschools.org

6th Grade Collection # 1 – Expository Essay, students chose a fear and write about it. Page 67

Collection # 2 – Expository Essay, students write about how animals exhibit intelligence. Page 133

7th Grade Collection #1 – Oral Commentary (submit written work), students write and present their opinion about the rewards and risks associated with bold actions. Page 57

Collection #2 – Opinion or Expository Essay, students write about how a single action can create a dramatic change.  Page 131

8th Grade Collection #1 – Personal Narrative, students write a narrative based on their own experience adjusting or fitting into new situations. Page 83

Collection #2 – Literary Analysis, students select a story or stories in the horror genre and write an analysis.  Page 137

9th Grade Collection #1 – Speech (submit written speech), students write and present a speech about how the anchor text discusses how individuals struggle to unit for a cause. Page 37

Collection #2 – Argument, students make a claim about whether or not freedom is given or must be demanded.  Page 97

10th Grade Collection #1 – Speech (submit written speech), students write and present a speech about how our relationships with others define who we are.  Page 41

Collection #2 – Research Report, students write a report that develops their findings about our relationship with nature.

11th Grade Collection #1 – Argument, students write an essay with a claim and evidence that support their beliefs about how immigration changed America, and how America changes those who come here. Page 103

Collection #2 – Informative Essay, students write an essay detailing information from their anchor texts and how it relates to balancing individual and group rights.  Page 169

12th Grade Collection #1 – (NOTE: Seniors are doing research paper) For submission to competition choose Compare/Contrast Essay, students compare/contrast the sacrifices made by individuals in their anchor texts. Page 71

Collection #2 – (Note:  Group Discussion is the assessed task in this unit) For submission to competition choose Informative Essay rubric Page 144), students write an informative essay explaining how gender roles have evolved over time based on the result of their group discussions.

 

Rules and Guidelines:

  1. Select the top 2 pieces from each of your classes from the options listed above. If you have strong writers you may submit for each.
  1. Submit student work as follows:

Submit email that must include:  A list of students you are attaching as well as their grade level.  Student writing must have student name, school name, grade level, and from which text the Prompt came on every page of submission and file. Type size must be minimum 18 maximum 22 font. If these submission requirements are not met, work will not be read.

For example:  John Andrews, HSA Toledo, 9th grade, Collection #1

  1. Entries can be submitted to aflaherty@conceptschools.org from September to January 29th as you finish your classroom work.
  • Contest is open to any student (grade 3 or higher) who is a part of Concept Schools.
  • Entries will not be returned, so please keep a copy for your records.
  • All decisions about winners are subject to the judgment of the Concept judging panel. Scoring will be done with the same rubrics used by teachers throughout the network for their classroom instructions.

Awards:

1st, 2nd, and 3 place prizes will be given in 3 categories – high school, middle school, and elementary; $100, $75, and $50 respectively.  And wherever applicable a $25 for honorable mention.

Winners will be announced in March.

NOTE:  Your work must be original and without obscenities, gratuitous violence, or other questionable material.