||[14 Jun 2008|11:29pm]
I retyped some things for Scholastic for their 85th anniversary of the competition, selections from all the decades, while I was waiting for someone a while ago. Thought I would share a bit:
William Dodge – Thirteen
Grover Cleveland High School
Caldwell, New Jersey
Teacher: Alice Long, 1956
Being thirteen has certain problems that only another thirteen-year-old would understand. The biggest, I think, is learning to get along well with adults. I have found that when dealing with grownups, it is wise to remember two things:
1. Always use your head.
2. Never use your head.
Bernard Malamud, Age 18
Erasmus Hall HS, Brooklyn, NY
Teacher: Clara A MolendyK
LIFE—FROM BEHIND A COUNTER (excerpt), 1932
“There is nothing new under the sun,” say some people, and then they proceed to become very much bored with the world. If only they could see, and hear, their fellow human beings day after day, they might be able, in time, to enrich the world with new and beautiful ideas. Perhaps they might even be able to answer the eternal question, Why?—why Wordsworth loved the flowers and the meadows; why Hamlet, in emotional anguish, cried, “Vengeance!”; Why Adam and Eve were driven from Paradise; why Beethoven created such passionate music, why people cry—and many other Why’s.
Laurice Chen, 17,
Walt Whitman HS, Bethesda, MD
Teacher: Suzann Cokers
HOME (excerpt), 1997
My grandmother once told me regret could ruin a life, no matter how well lived through the living, the looking back could break its bones and take its soul. She told me to live life without regret. “You can’t change things,” she said, “and anyway, the experience has already changed you. Relish it. No regrets.”
Out the window, I can see the fog curling under the wheels, caught and illuminated by the weak headlights and the dim street lamps who numbers diminish as we spin further and further out into the night. The blackness I see around us is reflected in my father’s eyes when I turn my head. He focuses on the road, trying to pull up the thin yellow lines that tie us off from the empty space, trying to free them from the blackness that seeps into his eyes.
He looks tired. Haggard. He reaches over to turn on the heat, glances over and smiles, touches my arm for reassurance.
I am reminded of the last winter that I visited my grandmother in Northern China, in her house on a hill that edged up towards Russia. She lived near shattered portions of the Great Wall—tumbled down remains like the shedded scales off some magnificent dragon. We explored them together, a sixteen-year-old and a seventy-year-old, turning rocks to find skulls, bits of iron, a flower growing in a crevice filled with ice. The only heat in her house came from the kitchen fire which burned down to embers during the night and left the house unbearably cold. My grandmother used hot bricks wrapped in towels that she slid under the covers every four hours, crawling out of bed herself to heat them, then hurrying back to bed, huddling close and speaking to me softly, stroking my hair, telling me about her past….
“I met a boy named Lee one winter,” my grandmother twisted a small section of my hair into a knot around her finger, “he lived on the other side of here, and we spent all of our free time together, running around these hills, sledding with animal hides we soaked in water and left out overnight. I was sixteen, your age, “ she stretched out a leg to brush the bricks with her toe, “ good, still hot. And one day, we realized we loved each other. Like only young people can love each other, we loved each other.” I could imagine her smiling in the dark, her fingers still tangled in my hair….
Capote won a lot of these awards. Looking at this piece from the 90s.. part of me thinks you guys would have done well in this competition in high school. hindsight