Category: Annual Events

Writing Contest

Put Down Pick Up Writing Contest

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And the Winners Are!  

Rally For Writing Winners

Spring 2014



1st Place - Carizjah Wright, 5th grade, HSA Columbus Elementary (Ms. Miller)

2nd Place – Daphne Butler, 4th grade, IMSA South, (Ms. Smith)

3rd Place - Madina Ashurova, 4th grade, HSA Lorain (Mrs. Stypa)

Honorable Mention, Gabriel Wysocki, 3rd Grade, HSA Lorain (Ms. Morgan)

Honorable Mention, Aubriel Washington, 3rd Grade, HSA Belmont (Mr. Trettin)

Middle School

1st Place, Nathan Morton, 7th grade, Noble Academy Cleveland (Mrs. White)

2nd Place, Desiree Rivera, 8th grade, HSA Lorain (Mrs. Petkovsek)

3rd Place, Monica Antunez, 6th grade, HSA McKinley Park (Ms. Ciaccio)

Honorable Mention, Bobry’el Jones, 8th grade, Quest Charter Academy Peoria (Ms. Heckman)

High School

1st Place, Lindsay Spigelmyer, 9th grade, Quest Academy Peoria (Ms. Creasy)

2nd Pace, Tamia Stanley, 12th grade, HSA Cincinatti (Ms. Zottoli)

3rd Pace, Matt Deus, 9th grade, HSA Lorain (Mrs. Carter)

Honorable Mention, Afifa Chaudry, 9th grade, CMSA (Mr. Nordlund)

Honorable Mention, Deshawna Flesch, 10th grade, GSA St. Louis (Mrs. Rew)

Read the works of our Elementary Winners:

1st Place

Bullies to Bestfriends

Student: Crizjah Wright, 5th Grade

Teacher: Ms. Miller

HSA Columbus Elementary

There once was a girl named Patty Simcog and she was the biggest bully in the classroom. She was in 7th grade and she was an awful friend to others. She would be mean to others by having them pay $1 to go to the restroom and if they didn’t then she would push them down to the floor, and make them run away. There was also another girl named Leslie.  She was a new student and all she wanted was to make new friends. She tried to use the restroom, but things didn’t work out so nicely, and Leslie was very upset about why she couldn’t go to the restroom because she really had to use the bathroom.

One day Leslie wanted to play tricks on Patty so Leslie made up this fake note for Patty to find. It said that there was a boy, who’s been there since kindergarten and his name was Thomas Jeffrey had liked her but the truth is that he really didn’t even know her and never liked her at all. So finally at the end of the day she wanted to talk to him, still believing that he had liked her. She tried to talk to him, but her friends were watching her try to talk to him and he rejected her so she was so embarrassed that she didn’t even want to sit in her favorite seat on the bus. She sat lonely on the bus and then it started raining on her favorite pair of pants and didn’t want to look at people because she was so sad.

Usually Patty would talk about people and kick the back of their seat, but she refused to do it because she was so upset. The next day she came from school and hid herself from others in the girl’s bathroom and was sobbing. For the first time she asked Leslie for advice and Leslie was very surprised and told her that she was the one who had written the silly note. Patty wasn’t so sad anymore, instead she was mad, but she had also forgiven Leslie and they hugged it out and became best friends. That was the day that Patty had stop being a bully and all of the problems that Patty and Leslie had helped each other.

2nd Place

For The Better

Student:  Daphne Butler, 4th Grade

Teacher:  Ms. Smith

IMSA South

Show love with patience

For my crying brother

Show love with respect given

To my father and mother

Love is not being rude to the teacher

While she teaches the day’s lesson

Show no envy to classmates

Who know all the answers to all the questions

Show kindness to all people of all races and colors

Lend a hand to help one another.

Never brag about your accomplishments

Instead encourage someone

If you work hard, you play hard and everybody has fun.

Share with your neighbor

It is a beautiful day

It will make you feel warm inside

That is all I have to say.

War does not show love

It creates non-stop pain

If I show love, and you show love

Then maybe the world can change

For the better

3rd Place

No Title

Student:  Madina Ashurove, 4th Grade

Teacher: Mrs. Stypa

HSA  Lorain

Frienemies teaches enemies to become friends. My game is similar to Life, a board game where you get married, have kids, go to college and more. In this game you need resources to build a house, and farmland to grow food to survive. Everyone starts out with 30 pieces of every resource including money, house building tools, seeds, and food. To play this game you will need, 2 players to be enemies, and one cashier for the market. If you run out of money you can get more by planting your 30 seeds, wait for them to grow, and sell the plants to the cashier at the market. Then you’ll have the money to buy your resources. If your enemy doesn’t know that you can give them a hint. The goal of this game is to become friends with your enemy while you are trying to build your house. This game will take 30 minutes or more.

Everyone in the game has some farmland, but no one has a house. When you run out of resources as you are building, you can’t ask anyone but your enemy for help. The first few times they might say no, but soon enough they will use up all their resources. Your enemy will see that you need each other to survive. At times you might have to say no because you ran out of that resource too.  If you still can’t get your enemy to become your friend then you should try to be nice to them and complement them on their accomplishments. Eventually, they will become nicer and nicer. If you let your enemy borrow a resource, one day your enemy can return the favor to you. If both of you run out of the resource you can buy it from the market. The market sells seeds, building tools, food and other items you might need along the way. Don’t worry enemies are hard to make friends with. Have fun trying to become friend with your enemy and good luck it won’t be easy!

Honorable Mention

My Love

Student:  Gabriel Wysocki, 3rd Grade

Teacher:  Ms. Morgan

HSA Lorain

I love my family and my family loves me,

when we’re together, no happier could I be.

I love my family and the time that we spend,

I wish my family time wouldn’t end.

Whenever we go play at the park,

we always play until it gets dark.

When we go sledding down snow covered hills,

it always brings me the biggest thrills.

Whether we’re playing sports or games,

my family times are all the same,

full of laughs, full of cheer,

I love my family and hold them dear!

I love my friends and my friends love me,

sometimes they’re like family.

I love to see them at school everyday,

at recess we can talk and play.

I love when they come to stay the night,

we wrestle, play X-Box, and have a nerf fight.

When we wake up, we hurry outside,

to play some football or take a bike ride.

When they go home the fun is over, but that’s okay,

we can play some other day.

I love my enemies, tough they don’t love me,

dislike me if you want, but my love comes free.

I wish we didn’t have to fight and scream,

I wish that we all were on the same team.

Did I do something wrong, what could it be?

I’m trying to be friends, why can’t you see?

I hope that someday our trouble ends,

I hope that someday we can be friends.

Whether it’s family, friends, or enemies,

my love goes out and it’s clear to see.

Through rain or shine, or night and day,

my love will never fade away.

I love my family and my family loves me,

when we’re together, no happier could I be.

Honorable Mention

The Love for Family, Friends, and Enemies

Student:  Aubriel Washington, 3rd Grade

Teacher:  Mr. Trettin

HSA Belmont

I love my family

And they love me,

I don’t think they’ll let me down.

If so, my heart would drown.

Being the good people that we are

I do believe there’s a lot of love and we will get far

I love my friends

Until the end.

If we were to part

Meeting new friends would be another start

Just like family

Till death do us part

I have love for the enemies,

To me they are just friend-to-be’s

They might not understand,

But, with a positive mind, friends do expand.

Sometimes I think family are true friends

Sometimes friends be there till the end

Enemies will or won’t

But, the word hate is something I don’t

The love I have is for everyone

After all I have said, I am done.

Read the works of our Middle School Winners:

1st Place

How I Learned to Cooperate With Others to Get Things Done

Student:  Nathan Morton

Teacher:  Mrs. White

Noble Academy Cleveland

Cooperation is the process of working with others to accomplish something through to the end.  It is participating in the action taking place. This is called an organized group assisting each other and learning from one another.  The way I have learned about cooperation is by doing group projects in school and participating in team sports.  Doing group projects teaches you not only how to communicate well with others, but it gets the job done faster. This is something my parents taught me at a young age. When I was a kid my parents taught me how to play nicely with other kids without arguments. This lesson has carried on to my everyday life and has taught me the importance of teamwork. When one person does not cooperate well it can mess up the whole group or team. But when everyone is cooperating well, each person is in harmony with one another.

Cooperation leads to efficiency and group loyalty. I learned that each person in the group or team has to participate without jealousy, selfishness, or working independently. Instead each person shows good qualities such as teamwork, sharing, partnership, assistance, and effort. If you are able to cooperate with others well, it gives you a reputation of great honor. Not only does this show you respect other people, but other people will respect you. Cooperating with others requires a good attitude and peace. Peace has a great effect. You can gain a lot of respect if you have this quality. Just as Nelson Mandela once said “if you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

I also learned that cooperation is not the easiest thing in the world. But when we aim to achieve hard things in life it builds good character. However, when we aim to achieve easy things in life it prevents us from reaching our full potential. Cooperation can help you become a great team player instead of being a mediocre team member, or a slacker. Cooperation can be a way to improve your social life and the way you position yourself to talk to people. I guarantee that this can and will help you gain courage, confidence, and credibility.

Cooperation helps guide others to accomplish things not just for unity but for the improvement of our world. We could all learn something from this and we should learn how to cooperate with others to become peaceful. Just as Lance Armstrong said “anyone who imagines they can work alone winds up surrounded by nothing but rivals, without companions. The fact is, no one ascends alone.”

2nd Place

Strong Acrostic Poem, 8th Grade

Student:  Desiree Rivera

Teacher:  Mrs. Petrovsek

HSA Lorain

Strong. Being strong is everything.  Tears through the pain.  Heart breaks. Break downs. Perseverance.  So tired that you’re on your knees, but still pushing yourself to work and fighting for your life to live.

Tired, but still pushing through.  I almost give up but there is always that little piece of faith that keeps me going.  Terrified I’m not going to make it, but happy because I know it’s not true.  I’m going to prove it to everyone, no matter what I have to do.

Rejection.  Yes, it really hurts, but I have work to do.  I don’t need you!

Overwhelmed.  Swimming in papers.  Trying to clean and organize the house before the baby is born.  Trying to make everyone happy.  I feel like I’m drowning.  Struggling to swim to the surface.  I need help!  I need someone to save me! I feel like I’m alone.  Sometimes I just want to give up, but if I do that I know I won’t survive.

No, don’t stop here, you’re almost there! It’s okay to cry and scream, but just remember to dry up those tears; clear your throat, and keep swimming so you don’t drown.

Grow in faith.  Don’t let people bring you down!  Try your best and ignore the rest.  Who cares if you’re not fast, your past is beautiful and so are you.

3rd Place

No Title

Student:  Monica Antunez, 6th Grade

Teacher:  Ms. Ciaccio

HSA McKinley Park

Imagine, two girls are fighting over what to play at recess. You notice that they are yelling at one another because they don’t seem to listen to each other. They can’t agree because they have different ideas. Has this ever happened to you or someone you know? It happened to me, and I learned that cooperating with others is extremely important.

I learned the importance of cooperating with others with a situation that happened in school. One time I had to work with a partner to create a poster displaying made up words based on events from the book Frindle. When my friend Samantha and I were working on our project, we had different ideas. She wanted to make up a word for computers, and I wanted to make up a word for paper. We started to argue about whose idea was better. I thought that my idea was better because I wanted to make up a word for something that we use every day, and Samantha wanted her idea because she thought that computers was a boring word for a really cool thing, so she wanted to make it better. We could not agree on any one idea. I noticed that when we’d talk, we both spoke at the same time. We weren’t even listening to each other.  I suggested that we take turns talking. She agreed. When we took turns talking, we finally agreed on making up a word for lights. We finished our project just before class ended. In the end we got a good grade. Samantha and I were pretty satisfied on how my idea of taking turns to talk actually worked. That day I saw that when you work together, the job will be more successful.

Cooperation is an important life skill that everyone should have. It doesn’t matter what age you are, there will be times when you’ll have to encounter the importance of cooperating with others. Whether you’re at work or at school, you shouldn’t be afraid to communicate your ideas. When working with others, it is important that group members have the chance to speak. If everyone is talking at once, there will be commotion and nothing will get done. Everyone has to take a turn expressing their opinions or ideas. Then, all the members of the group can better understand what their colleagues are saying. Sometimes, when a group is trying to communicate, they forget to listen to one another. Instead, they just hear what the person says. You may think that hearing and listening is the same thing, but it actually isn’t. When you listen, you understand what the person says, but when you hear, you do not have full attention on the person. There are many ways to show that you’re listening. One way is to shake your head showing that you understand what the person is saying. Another way to show that you are listening is not to interrupt when the person is speaking.

In conclusion, cooperating with others is very important because there will always be times when you need to work in a group. Even when we are older, there will be times when we will need to communicate with a group. So if you remember the saying “treat others how you want to be treated” and remember these lessons I learned then you will be the best at cooperating.

Honorable  Mention

Discrimination Acrostic

Student:  Bobry’el Jones, 8th Grade

Teacher:  Ms. Heckman

Quest Charter Academy Peoria

Do you think it’s okay to say I’m black, a negro, or that I’m colored?

I honestly think the color of our skin doesn’t make us different from one another.

Still—you call me colored when you turn greenish-purple when sick and pinkish-red when you spit?

Could I call you names?  I could, but I don’t judge or cause shame.

Really, I could have sworn we were defined by our name and personality and not our race!

I think that like at the end of our pledge of allegiance,

Matter of fact, we say “ONE NATION,”

Instead of “Judge one another.”

Not different because of the color of our skin,

And we don’t think less of others, especially when we have the same education.

Treat people with respect!

If we aren’t the same race, it doesn’t matter.

Of course, we’re unique in our own ways—the way we look, our style, our love, our smile,

Never forget, our differences make us special, and tolerance is a gift, not a trial.

Read the works of our High School Winners:

1st Place

A Day in the Life of Autism

Student:  Lindsay Spigelmyer, 9th Grade

Teacher:  Ms. Creasy

Quest Charter Academy Peoria

Fans in the room sound like huge wind tunnels, doors slam shut, hundreds of pencils are tapping on the tops of desks, the florescent lights above me hum like a teeming hive of bees, a fire truck zooms by the window with its siren roaring loud and the monotonous voice of the teacher at the front of the room all register in my ears at the same volume. I try hard to concentrate on the teachers lecture, but I can’t block out all these sounds from entering my brain. As I sit in the rock hard chair, at the back of the room, I can’t help but to twist and fidget. My brain can’t take it anymore. It can’t filter all the input, so it boils over with all of my thoughts and I let it out with an ear piercing scream. My teacher calls out my name, but all I hear are the thousands of sounds around me pouring into my head once again. I see my teacher walk over to my desk and he ushers me out into the hallway. He tells me to reflect on how I interrupted the class.

Sitting in the hallway provides me with some relief to the noises, but they still ring in my ears, but the disruption is just slighter now. My teacher’s spoken words were like steam, they evaporated in an instant, before I had a chance to make any sense of them whatsoever. I couldn’t remember why I was out in the hallway until I looked down at the piece of paper sitting on the desk in front of me. The stark white paper stared me in the face with the words: Reflect on what you did wrong and how you will prevent this from happening in the future. I knew why I was sent out into the hallway, but I could not understand what I did wrong. I did not do anything to harm anyone or anything. Suddenly, I heard the pitter-patter of small raindrops on the top of the tin roof. They start to coming down faster and faster, and the time between the individual raindrops begin to decrease and flow into one another.

Soon I heard my teacher’s voice escape from the room saying, “My, it’s raining cats and dogs.” As soon as I hear this I quickly jump up from my seat and run to the window in the hallway, hoping to see the cats and dogs falling from the sky. Disappointed, angry, and confused I begin to burst into tears when a see that there are no cats nor dogs falling from the sky, but only the plain old cold, wet rain.

My teacher emerges from the classroom with a discontented look appearing on his face once he sees me. He asks me how come I have not written something down on the piece of paper he had given me to reflect upon. I slowly pick up my pencil as a final tear falls from my check and lands on my desk with a large plop. I write in large letters: I DON’T KNOW WHAT I DID WRONG! My teacher quickly relieves me from my isolated desk in the hallway, and I rejoined the lively classroom.

No sooner do I sit down and the bell rings for recess. I am whisked out of the classroom door by a herd of other students. Once outside, the sun’s bright rays almost blind me as it bounces off of everything and distorts what I see, even though it has just stopped raining. There are too many items for me to be able to focus on any one thing. There are so many bodies swirling around me in constant motion, creating a monument of distractions. All of these distractions affect how I feel just standing in one single place, and now I can’t even tell where my body is in space. I try to take my mind off of all of the distractions around me by slowly walking over to the bench under the awning. I sit down by myself like any other day. The birds begin to chirp loudly and the wind whips in my ears.  The wind brings sharp smells with it, which trigger my highly sensitive sense of smell. I can easily distinguish the smells of dog poop close by, rotting wood chips on the playground, and of course the smell of rain.

The bell rings to signify that recess is over and everyone scatters back inside for lunch. I take a seat at the end of a long table, where I have sat every day since the beginning of the year. No one ever sits by me and that’s the way I like it, except for today when the new student sits across from me. Having someone sitting across from me makes me itch because it is out of my routine. The new student whose name I can’t remember asks me if I want to be friends. I don’t know what to say, so I hang my head focusing the many distractions around me, as if I can avoid them. She asks me again and I try to smile. I do not really understand everything that is happening, but I know there is something special about my one and only friend.

2nd Place

“The Beginning of Donnie McGruder”

Student:  Tamia Stanley, 12th Grade

Teacher:  Ms. Zottoli

HSA Cincinatti

Growing up, I always wanted to fit in. I wanted to be noticed by all the cliques in school. I managed to succeed if you must know, even though it was hard. Back then, it was my number one priority, as I grew older that happened to change. And deep down, I had a secret that made me different, but I chose to hide it because I knew it would ruin me. My reputation was on the line because of this, so I made sure no one knew.

Could it just be a phase? Am I curious or is this real? How could I be gay? These were questions I asked myself on a daily basis just because I couldn’t figure it out and it was like this for years. It wasn’t until junior high that I grew to accept this secret.

“Hey! Donnie? What’s going on bro?” Ricky said. “Well nothing really, why? You tryna get some extra practice in?” I said this with a normal expression, but on the inside I wished for him to say yes. Ricky was my “best friend”. We knew each other since we could walk and became “best friends” ever since. He knew everything there was to know about me, except for my secret and my feelings for him. I cared for Ricky so much, and knew he cared for me, just not the same.

Ricky really wasn’t up to practice because it wasn’t mandatory, but I convinced him it was for a good reason. After hitting up the McDonald’s down the street, we headed straight for the school’s gym. The gym was like my getaway from everything. From myself, my family, and my social life. When I was out on that basketball court, I was never myself. I wasn’t thinking about guys, I was thinking about winning and working hard. Besides me not trying to be myself out there, the gym was awesome; only players were allowed to access it after school hours.

Once we arrived at the gym, we went straight to the weight room. Ricky did his normal sets of weights and so did I.

“Hey, Don, can you spot me for this set, I want to add more weight”, Ricky said. I replied with an easy, “Sure”, and rushed over to Ricky. He added an extra 20 pounds that he wasn’t sure he could do. I motivated him every step of the way. Just being by his side distracted me, looking in his eyes made me feel secure and knowing he could trust me made me feel better.

I fought and fought to hide these feelings, but I just couldn’t. When Ricky got done with his set, he sat up breathing real hard and sweating like crazy. I set by him and patted him on the back for doing a tremendous job with his new set and he smiled and said “Thanks bro. If it wasn’t for you I couldn’t have done it.” Laughing at each other, Ricky stops and asks me for advice about his love life. Yes, we were young, but the transition from 8th grade to being a freshmen in high school made us feel older than what we were.

Ricky started explaining to me how he liked someone and wasn’t ready for me or the world to know just yet. He said that the person has been around him since they were young and he feels like this persons secret ways has had a big influence on who he really is. For some reason I got the idea that he was talking about me, I mean it made sense. He continued telling me more about the person and how he really wanted the person to make the first move, so it wouldn’t be awkward. I asked Ricky what type of “first move” was he looking for and he told me with a giggle that he wished it would be a kiss, that’s all he wanted. With that being said, with no hesitation or second thoughts I kissed him and asked was that what he had been looking for.

“What the hell is wrong with you, Donnie?” Ricky said building up enough rage to almost kill me with. He hopped up instantly and punched me in my stomach and face. I fell to my knees in disbelief and pain and shock that he would do that to me, his own best friend. I just sat there, too afraid to look up and look Ricky in his eyes. He began pacing around me still in shock and filled with confusion on what just went down. “Donnie? What the … Why would you … What?” was the only words his mouth could form to make. I jumped in, still on my knees and told him how I’ve always felt about him and my secret.

No immediate response came from Ricky, just silence with a disgusted frown upon his face. I stood up, watching Ricky’s every motion, but it was nothing, just a frown. I asked Ricky not to say anything to anyone and if he did this, all my feelings for him will be erased. Ricky just gathered his stuff and left without saying a word, and I all alone. I started to cry and gathered my stuff as well and left.

I decided to walk home, so I could get some alone time to think. I was so confused. Why didn’t he feel the same way? Why did he hit me? Will he tell anyone? Ugh, there was so much running through my mind.

Upon arrival at my house, I saw an unfamiliar car in my driveway, but I just assumed it was a family member visiting. Until I got closer and saw it was Ricky’s family car… My heart stopped, my stomach tensed and my chest tightened. My mind was just everywhere right now. Did he tell my parents? Please, God tell me everyone doesn’t know… I was lost for words. I was so scared that I could kill myself right then and there… Instead, I reached for the door knob slowly, and began to turn it. I told myself it was now or never and I entered my home.

3rd Place

As Earth Dies

Student:  Matt Deus, 9th Grade

Teacher:  Mrs. Carter

HSA Lorain

I can feel the earth crumble beneath me, vegetation withering to dust. Animals are deteriorating from lack of food and contaminated water. I stand there, watching this dying world fade away before my eyes.

It is the year 3021. The air is so polluted that there is no oxygen. Every person you see outside is wearing a heavy oxygen tank on their back which is attached to their mouth. There aren’t many survivors left in this God-forsaken world. What is the point of being in this world if we are just going to suffer?

People knew if we did something about the pollution, this would have never happened. Pollution has taken over our society. I, personally, did not care what could happen to the world, but it is not fair for everyone else to live this way. I want to help, but it seems like I can’t do anything. I feel so useless.

It started in 2902. The whole world collided into a nuclear war. They called this the “Nuke Wars”. This was the main source of the pollution. The war ended ten years later with lots of destruction.

People relied on machines and factories too much. The smoke from everyday cars and factories destroyed the ozone layer, making Earth’s crust hot and dangerous. People ignored the fact of Earth deteriorating, thinking it was something that could be brushed aside.

Some events that led to the world’s corruption were my fault. I was born on “the hill of sorrows,” which was a house on top of the hill where I’ve always lived. My parents made an invention to help protect ourselves from Earth’s destruction. My parents finished the invention and tested it. They called the invention “Green”. It looked like a neon blue and purple flame thrower. When they used it on a wilted tree, after an hour the tree bloomed into a beautiful willow. My parents showed me the tree, and my eyes were stunned by its beauty. I had never seen something so natural in my life; it was so beautiful.

Word got out about the first living tree in centuries. Reporters from all over crowded into our house. Life started becoming a lot better. We became rich, and we improved our home. After weeks’ worth of using “Green”, my parents made the hill full of beautiful flowers, trees, and vegetation. People from all over came to see this miracle. It was good, until I messed up, ruined something so beautiful.

It was the year 3000, two years after “Green” was created. I was sick of being around a bunch of people, so I sneaked out of my house to get fresh air. I laid down on the soft, fluffy grass. I gazed into the sky. The sky was yellow and foggy. I forgot how horrific the world really was. As I laid on the grass, I started thinking while staring at the sky. I thought mainly about the future. What would the world become now that we have “Green”? What would happen to our family after being famous? That kind of stuff.

I started getting drowsy, so I took a little nap. I dreamt of a luxurious future where my parents and I were happy I laid there, motionless, enjoying my nap. That was, until I had a rude awakening from a suspicious group of thugs.

I opened my eyes to see a bunch of thugs grapple my arms and throw me against the willow tree. “Where is it?” a thug demanded. I gave him a puzzled look and replied, “What?” The thugs punched me in the stomach. “Where is ‘Green’?” They whipped out a gun and pointed it at my head. “I will kill you and your family.” I was frightened and confused. I did not want them to kill our happy family, so I led them to our house.

We got to the house, and they took me as a hostage. My parents saw me with the thugs. They tried to save me, but two of the thugs grabbed my parents and knocked them out. I screamed in fear. The thug let me go and searched the house. I tried to escape, but another grabbed me and tied me outside to a tree. After a few short moments, I saw the hill catch fire. I saw the thugs run away as the house burned, and I remembered my parents were in there. I tried to break free, but it was useless. I watched my childhood burn before my eyes.

Twenty-one years later, and here I am. I’ve ruined the future of the world. But I have a plan. That day of the fire, a stranger found me tied to the tree. After untying me, he gave me a gift and simply walked away. Inside, there was a pot with a seed inside. In the past 21 years, I have gathered the remaining fresh soil left in the world. After six months of sheltering and caring for the plant, it happened. A flower has bloomed.

Honorable Mention


Student:  Afifa Chaudry, 9th Grade

Teacher:  Mr. Nordlund

CMSA Chicago

The early Sunday morning light burned a hole through the black cloth hanging from the bedroom ceiling. Cooing pigeons could be heard through the window behind the drapes.  My small hand peeked through my dark navy blue covers and yanked back the glowing curtain. I hissed at the light, and the hand retreated to where it came from. The soft calming walls were instantly illuminated and I whipped off my blanket.

I glared at the lit Dallas skyline that could be seen through my window, my spine to the bathroom door. I reached behind me with my hand and slowly turned the door handle as I backed into my bathroom.

* * *

I strode out the door of my apartment and into the rundown, silent hallway with a creaky stairway.  I headed down toward the slightly dusty glass doors, raising my hand up in a wave to the lady at the cluttered front desk.

I started for the bus stop, a city block down from where I was standing. I looked down to the black sneakers covering my feet. The sidewalk pavement speeds by in a blur at this angle, and I always have felt dominant when that happened.

I sat down on one of the shaded benches at the bus stop and plugged in black and white headphones. Loud mechanical voices and a soft melody combined peacefully and rang in my ears.

After a short while of waiting, the public bus rolled up and stopped for me and a woman with a baby saddled in a stroller. I let the lady go first and proceeded to go in after her. I slipped my fare card in the slot and punched in the red button. I lifted my head and searched for an empty seat. I found one in the middle next to an open window.

I set my backpack down and slid into the plastic seat. Sitting with my head against the seat, my eyes glazed over as the bus started to move again and everything outside obscured.

The bus’s radio talk show was playing, but it didn’t sound like one anymore. Over-eager voices, sirens began to ring and slowly grew louder. A mechanical buzzing beat like a heart at a higher volume and those cheery voices were cut off, from the radio and the bus. I reach for my phone and instantly turned off my music. A monotonous voice spoke.

“We interrupt our programming. This is a national emergency. The following message is transmitted at the request of the United States government.” He singled out every syllable: “This is not a test,” My breathing became quicker, and the sirens sounded straight into my eardrums. The bus driver immediately hit the brakes causing me to launch forward. “A nuclear attack is occurring against the United States. Four nuclear missiles have been launched from known locations, and are expected to strike Dallas, Texas, within the next fifteen minutes.”

My heart beat like a desperate person pounding on a locked door and I turned around to see the others on the bus. I heard the baby wailing from and an older man roared for the bus doors to open. I couldn’t hear the dull announcer anymore. The streets outside immediately grew into chaos. All previous order was lost and I was in the middle of it with strangers. Gunshots fired from within the alleys and side streets of Dallas. Half of the people in the bus had already run out. Everyone else is frozen in their plastic seats. But I know better. I jump up, and grab my bag. My feet stomp from the metal of the bus to the hard, black pavement.

I needed to find shelter. And I needed to find it at the first opportunity I got. I looked up to the clear blue sky with clouds that dotted its canvas. In the distance I squinted to see a large plane over the tops of giant buildings, gaining ground to reach its destination. Fifteen minutes my rear.

I count down from Thirty.



I studied Washington Avenue. The mother hung onto her baby and sobbed against the exterior wall of a nearby building. Everybody who is out here knows those missiles are coming. They have all seen it coming just as I have and I was sure the entirety of Dallas had already been turned into a war zone. Cars crashed into each other, trying to leave the city and smoke rose out of them. The traffic lights were malfunctioning, randomly flashing all three colors repetitively. I saw human figures suspended in the air and plunging down near dumpsters next to metal buildings. I inspected the sky for the flying machine; I could tell it has entered the outskirts of the city.



This chaos brewed, I felt the noise vibrating throughout my body, as if I were at an indoor concert. My eyes stung and burned. I forcefully closed them and embarked on the process of calming myself. I inhaled. I exhaled. I breathed. I began to feel at peace, despite the commotion that pounded at my doorstep.



A sharp screech cut through the already deafening noise. I heard a piercing explosion and felt flames beckoning me.


I step forward.


Honorable Mention

The Girl Who Heard Nothing

Student:  Deshawna Flesch

Teacher:  Mrs. Rew

Gateway Science Academy St. Louis

I wake up and I hear nothing. It’s been like this since I was born. I don’t hear the birds chirping outside, I don’t hear my little brothers running around, I don’t hear my mom yelling at me. My world is mute. I get out of bed and walk downstairs to the kitchen. In my world I hear nothing, but outside, it’s loud, I can see my mom yelling. I can see my brothers running around. But I can’t hear a thing. I look at my mom as words come flying out of her mouth toward me, acting like I can hear her, but she knows I can’t. I have no idea what she’s saying to me, and the more I remain silent the more her anger grows. I just look at her dazed. I see her face getting redder. I look at her yelling at me until I can’t stand to look anymore. I get up, grab my bag, and walk out.

I walk to school every day just wishing I could hear what other people hear, the cars zooming past me, the buzz of a bee going to its daily job, the breeze whispering through the trees, and when I get to school my wishing doesn’t get any better. I walk in seeing every eye on me. I watch as my name forms on their lips. I see the glares and the little smirks that pop up on their faces as I walk past. I put my head down and walk faster. My classes go by slowly. I see people laughing and talking with their friends. I see the fingers that point my way. Every day I sit alone; every day the loneliness gets worse. I can’t hear them but I see what they do; I still feel the pain as I sit alone because nobody wants to acknowledge me as a human being. I’m an outsider in this world, all because hearing is not a part of me.

I ask myself what would be different if I wasn’t born deaf, would I have friends, would my parents and I get along, would I actually feel happy instead of a person locked in a shell with no way out? The bell rings to end my 5th hour class and I get up and walk toward the door. In the hall I get shoved; my hair is pulled and I’m pushed to the ground, my stuff flying everywhere. I look up and see the kid who did it, the smile of satisfaction on his face and a high five from his friend, acknowledging a job well done. I look down as the tears begin to fill my eyes. I shuffle around on the floor and grab my stuff. I get up and run down the hall as tears come rolling down my face. I push the doors to the outside world open. I run all the way home.

I open my front door and slam it shut. My back slides down the back of the door, my legs simply giving out. I let the tears and the sobs go. I let them take over and consume me until I’m nothing but a limp body. My mom hears me and comes rushing in. I see her squat in front of me. She sees my tear stricken face and instantly wraps her arms around me. I give into her embrace and cry. After a while she lifts my face up and looks me in the eye. Her lips mouth “what’s wrong?” I look her in the eye and point at my ears. She mouths “talk to me” and all I do is cry because I feel like she won’t understand. But I get up, find paper and a pen and write “I’m tired of feeling like I’m nothing, like I’m not a part of this world. Nobody understands me. I get made fun of because I can’t hear. Do you know what it’s like? To feel like you don’t need to be on this earth anymore? Do you know what it feels like to wake up every morning and hear nothing? Do you know what it’s like to feel alone mom? Because I do and it’s not fun.”  Afterwards I walk to my room. I slam my door shut and cry into my pillow until exhaustion takes me to sleep.

When I wake it’s 12:00 in the afternoon. I have puffy red eyes and a stuffy nose. I look over at my night stand and see a box with a pretty light green bow on the lid. I look around my room confused, and open it. I’m completely shocked. In the box are hearing aids. I look at them amazed, and run downstairs to find my mom. I look at her with confusion written all over my face. She just looks at me and smirks. She grabs paper and a pen and writes, “I got them custom made just for you. Let me help you put them in.” Once they are in, she turns them on and tunes them so I can hear. I look around laughing; I can actually hear. I hear my little brothers screaming and the water running in the sink. I actually hear my mother say she’s loves me, and that’s when I look at her and tears of joy spring from my eyes. I finally hear something.

Concept Schools Writing Competition 2014


Rally for Writing

This year’s theme focuses on the role of writing in our daily lives.  When we rally we come back from something that we have struggled with or might have even defeated us.  We are looking for stories, essays, and poems that show us how you have taken action to change yourself, others, and the world around you.  There is an old saying that “troubles overcome are good to tell” and we write them down to help others.  In one culture the word for crisis has two parts: “devastation and correction” which implies that the crisis is not over until you have begun to correct it which many people do through writing.  The following prompts are written in a very general manner so that you can hone your backgrounds and minds for specific details that will communicate your experience with difficult situations. However, it is essential that you honor the requirements of the genre indicated.


Elementary Prompts

  • Create a game that will teach enemies to become friends. Write an essay that explains how the game works.


  • Write a short story that describes a person who lets another down – include what happened and how you get along now.


  • Write a rhyming poem that shows us how you love all people including family, friends, and enemies.


Middle School Prompts

  • Write an expository essay that explains how you learned to cooperate with others to get things done.


  • Write an email message (300 words minimum) to your classmates explaining a problem and your solution and why it will work.


  • Write an acrostic poem (100 letters minimum) about “troubles you have overcome” and express your happiness that you have made it through the problems.


High School Prompts

  • Write a short story from the point of view of a person who is struggling to make sense of the world around them.


  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper that defends (argumentative essay) the idea that we must help others in order to help ourselves.


  • Write an expository essay that explains an example of crisis including both devastation and correction using an event that has taken place in your local neighborhood or in the world.



Elementary Entries 200-400 words

Middle School Entries 300-600 words

High School Entries 500-900 words


Rules and Guidelines:

  • Contest is open to any student (grade 3 or higher) who is a part of Concept Schools.
  • Students select one prompt only from their grade level.


Classroom Teachers:

  1. Select the top five entries from your classes once you are sure students have written and revised their work with the help of a teacher or mentor.
  2. Work with these five students to submit their entries, as a Microsoft attachment, to by 4:00pm (CST) February 25th (adjusted date).  The entry must have their name, grade level, teacher’s name, and school name. Entries will not be returned, so please keep a copy for your records.
  3. All decisions about winners are subject to the judgment of the Concept judging panel, using the sameWriting Contest Rubrics.


1st, 2nd, and 3 place prizes will be given in 3 categories – high school, middle school, and elementary; $100, $75, and $50 respectively. Winners will be announced in March.


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


Click here for WritingPoster


Speech & Spoken




Overall Schools:

1st place HSA Columbus with 168 points

2nd place IMSA West with 164 points

3rd place Quest Charter Academy with 155 points

Free Form Spoken Word:

1st place Torye Brown IMSA West

2nd place Jazmyn Gatson IMSA North

3rd place (three way tie) Elizabeth Morell HSA Denison Middle School, Johnny Burtin IV Noble Academy Cleveland, and Abdiwahid  Abi  HSA Columbus High School

Recited Spoken Word:

1st place Tamia Stanley HSA Cincinnati

2nd place Blake Turner  IMSA West

3rd place Francis Prempeh HSA Columbus High School

Persuasive Speech:

1st place Lord Boachie HSA Columbus High School

2nd place Daniel Garwood Michigan Math and Science Academy

3rd place Kiyal Keles HSA Lorain

Team Competition:

1st place HSA Columbus (Don’Tayeja Barnes, Tarren Craig, Adoniyah Green, Tronston Williams)

2nd place HSA Cincinnati (Julian Myers, Tamia Stanley, Myaa Washington, Zakira Williams)

3rd place two-way tie Noble Academy Cleveland (Destiny Clark, Riana Suttles, Shania Wright) and Noble Academy Columbus (Jacob Bailey, Xavier Cruz, Brianna Piersol, Olivia Mellett)

The overall Champion was a tie:  Lord Boachie and Tamia Stanley

Download Poster Here

The 2014 Spoken Word Competition theme is “Words on Fire.”  Please download the Spoken Word Information sheet and the rubrics below:

Spoken Word Information Sheet

Spoken Word Rubric

Persuasive Speech Rubric

Spoken Word Team Rubric

Registration must be completed by April 4th.  Competition is May 3, 2014 at the Columbus Museum of Art.

Complete the following form and attach the piece for each student who will participate.

Read More…


MathCON: Math Olympics 2013



  • The MathCON online tests may be taken in a one-week window of time. This allows our teachers to fit in with even the busiest of schedules.
  • Starting on Monday March 18, 2013 at 8:00 eastern time until March 22, 2013 at 6:00 pm., students will be assigned an online test session with 35 math questions that will stay active.
  • Testing Schedule is flexible since the competition is open for five weekdays to allow students to participate at a convenient time.
  • These online competitions will have a 40-minute time limit.
  • Depending on the level of the question, students will earn 1 or 2 points per corrects answer for the test.
  • When the students take the online tests, they are instantly scored and those scores are automatically uploaded to our website.
  • Any mathematics teachers can sign up any student until Friday, March 1, 2013.
  • For instance; if your school has 400 students 5th -12th grades, they may all participate in MathCON online math competitions.
  • The registration fee is waived for all first year participating schools.

For more information, please visit:

 Click for MathCON poster>


Math Olympics 2010 Video
Concept Schools:: MATH OLYMPICS 2010

Moments from Math Olympics


Art Fair

Concept Schools Art Fair 2013


Important Dates:

April 16, 2013 – All forms, fees and entries must be post marked

April 22, 2013 – Judging at 12:00 p.m. at HSA Columbus Elementary

May 1-31, 2013 – Exhibition at the Columbus Metropolitan Library Main Branch, 96 S. Grant Ave. Columbus, OH 43215

May 11, 2013- Art Reception at the Library Auditorium 2:00-4:00 p.m.  Awards at 3:00 p.m.

June 7, 2013 – All work will be mailedback to schools



Encourage art education and promote artistic creativity and expression.

Provide an opportunity to recognize and exhibit outstanding student artwork.

Cultivate a sense of accomplishment in students from seeing their own work on exhibit and, at the same time, have the opportunity to view the work of other young artists.



All students currently enrolled in Concept Schools.

Each piece of artwork must be from the current school year, created under the supervision of the teacher/art instructor, and be completed without any outside assistance.


Types of Artworks Accepted:

Any media, any size may be entered. All entries must be original artworks. *Please let us know in advance if any of the work exceeds 3’ x 3’*

All two-dimensional work must be mounted/stapled on black paper (i.e. tag board, mat board, construction paper). Matted work will also be accepted but it is not a requirement.

No art work should be mounted within glass.

Canvas board and stretched canvas paintings are permitted without additional framing.

All three-dimensional art work must have an identification label with it.

All entries must have a Concept Schools identification label attached to the lower right-hand corner, on the front of the art work. That label should include the name, grade, school & location, and category.



The student and parents assume all responsibility for insurance coverage of all artwork entered in the Concept Schools Art Exhibition.

Student/parents must release photographic rights to Concept Schools Art Exhibition for purposes of education and/or publicity. This includes the right of the Exhibition to post your art work on its website.

Be advised that works may be hung using staples.


Entry Form:

Click here to download the entry form

All entries must be mailed by April 16, 2013 to

HSA Columbus Elementary School

Attn: Kristin Sony – CS Art Fair Organizer

2835 Morse Road

Columbus, OH 43231


Teacher information:

Please fill out the Shared Google document with your student information.

Turn in all entry forms paper clipped together and all artwork together

Mail artwork FLAT except for 3-D items. Please mail 3-D items wrapped in a box to protect them.

Art must be postmarked by April 16th. Judging will be held April 22nd at Columbus Elementary at 2:00 p.m.

You may submit 12 pieces per school per level. (Ex: If you teach K-8 you may submit 12 pieces for elementary and 12 pieces for middle.)

Please mount all artwork on black construction paper/poster board and labeled as shown on entry form.

There are 6 categories: Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Mixed Media, 3-D, Other

The library address is:

Columbus Metropolitan Library-Main Branch

96 S.Grant Avenue

Columbus, OH 43215














Teacher of the Year

Concept Schools 2014 Teacher of the Year Program

As part of our ongoing effort to improve teaching and learning, Concept Schools continues to provide a Teacher of the Year recognition program to honor, promote, and encourage outstanding teachers among our schools. This recognition will also raise the stakes among our teachers as they will then move on to state and national competitions.

The Concept Schools Teacher of the Year will also serve a community point person who both promotes charter community schools and innovative teaching strategies. He or she will receive a $1000 monetary award for this recognition.
Administrators, teachers, parents and students shall nominate a teacher

  • Holds a valid state teaching certificate;
  • Is an exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable and skilled individual, teaching kindergarten through grade twelve;
  • Inspires students of all backgrounds to learn;
  • Has the respect and admiration of students, parents, and colleagues;
  • Plays an active and useful role in the community as well as in the school;
  • Is poised, articulate, and possesses excellent communication skills;
  • Use technology as a tool for learning, communication and collaboration; and
  • Possess a state and national perspective of how current educational issues and practices impact teaching and learning.

The deadline for nominating a teacher is February 27, 2015.

The deadline for applications is April 17, 2015.

The winner will be announced on May 21, 2015.

Judging will be based on the criteria below.

1. Applicant Statement – Write a short statement that includes your philosophy of teaching, grade and subject, and how you maximize 21st Century skills in your classroom.  (Maximum 500 words- 20 pts. possible)

2. Instruction – Explain your teaching methods, strategies, accommodations, modifications, and assessments. Record one of your lessons (up to 45 min). Explain the context of the lesson you recorded and how it fits to the scope and sequence. Provide evidence how you achieved your goals and the standards you were teaching. What would you change if you were to re-teach? (Maximum 1,000 words – 30 pts. possible)

3. Data Driven Approach – Show evidence of progress monitoring and student success. (Maximum 300 words – 20 pts. possible)

4. Continuous Learning – Explain your on-going professional development and provide evidence of its implementation. (Maximum 250 words – 10 pts. possible)

5. Extra-curricular Activities – Describe how the extra-curricular activities you organize lead to student success. (Maximum 250 words – 10 pts. possible)

 6. Collaboration – Describe your professional collaboration within your school and how you link that with your community. (Maximum 250 words – 10 pts. possible)

Please contact Ali Uslu with any questions :