Creative Writing Contest: The Results Are In!

Many students tend to view writing as an obligation, rather than a privilege. After writing repetitive notes and homework assignments everyday, it’s no surprise that students are sick and tired of it. It’s totally understandable- despite common belief, Argologgers can get bored of writing too. However, not many people seem to realize that there’s more to writing beyond the tedious and compulsory essays that are written for passing grades. There’s a type of writing that allows people to go outside the bounds of the ordinary works: creative writing.

 
Creative writing is a platform that offers students the opportunity to go further into depth with more interesting genres, including short stories, poetry, and more. It is the birth of innovation that magnifies and creates universes never imagined before; the author becomes god with worlds at their fingertips (or pencil tips). “Writing is life,” Maddy Spangler (12), Argolog’s very own editor-in-chief, says, “Not in the ‘ball is life’ sense, although sure, that too, but throughout my entire life, it’s what made me want to wake up in the morning. I’ve always been able to better articulate myself through writing, and I’m grateful for the opportunities it gives me. Writing, especially creative writing, gives me a voice I wouldn’t know how to find otherwise, and that feels huge.”

 
Nowadays, however, not many students get to experience the same feeling of jubilation about creative writing. After constantly being overwhelmed and occupied by calculations and logical thinking, things such as creativity, emotions, and artistic senses never seem to get a chance to tap into the mind. Ms. Alba and the English teachers of GGHS want to keep the creative pursuits and literary community within our school and students alive — hence the yearly Creative Writing Contest. “It is significant to think about writing in a way that’s imaginative and asks us to become acquainted with our own feelings or explore feelings in others,” Ms. Alba expresses, “That’s why creative writing is so important — it forces us to think about the world around us differently. It helps us be more observant, emphasize with others, pay attention to details, and maybe even imagine other ways to do things.”

 
This year, the competition was fiercer than ever. Over 90 poems alone were submitted, and no piece was like another. There were a variety of submissions ranging from tales of dystopias and monsters to confrontations of self-reflection, loss, time, and history itself. With so many unique literary works, choosing the winning authors was no simple task for the judges.

 
Without further ado, here are the final results. Congratulations to the winning authors of the annual Creative Writing Contest of 2017, as well as all of the writers who participated!

Poetry:
1st Place: Roxana Franco (12)
2nd Place: Marissa Garcia (12)
3rd Place: Vivian Tran

Short Story:
1st Place: Maddy Spangler (12)
2nd Place: Amy Ho (12)
3rd Place: Kassidy Flores (12)
And Honorable Mentions to: Kathy Nguyen (11) & Jimmy Lee (11)

Place Description:
1st Place: Denise Lam (12)
2nd Place: Madisyn Cote (12)
3rd Place: Huong Pham (10)

Autobiographical Incident:
1st Place: Maddy Spangler (12)
2nd Place: Angelica Tran (11)
3rd Place: John Dang
An Honorable Mention to: Pablo Hernandez

And Character Sketch:
1st Place: Kelsy Medrano (12)
2nd Place: Linh Trinh
3rd Place: Maddy Spangler (12)
And a Honorable Mention to: Angelica Tran (11)

Poem: “Seventy-five Cents” by Roxana Franco (12)
Put your makeup on,
But not to much
Don’t be caked, look natural
But have the perfect body
Seventy five cents

Close your legs
Shut your mouth, go get married
But don’t be a gold digger,
Just make me a sandwich.
Seventy five cents

Stay at home, raise your kids
The choice isn’t yours-
It’s my body.
Murder is murder.
I was rap- murder is murder.
No uterus no opinion
You still fight for basic human rights
But no matter how many months you bleed
You will be forced to accept
That it is a man’s world
And your decision is not your decision

There’s no such thing as victim blaming.
You were asking for it.
No means no!
Shh!
close your lids.
Seventy five cents.

It was ninety minutes of action.
It was your fault.
Don’t drink too much,
don’t put yourself in that position
Don’t be vulnerable,
because you’ll be the first to be blamed
Unconscious-unaware-unresponsive-unable
to say no-
Traumatized.
but denied the simple right of justice,
Because Brock is a white man.
And you are Eve,
Seventy five cents

Watch what you wear,
At school and the workplace
Don’t you dare
distract the males from their work
because all you are is a pretty face
Seventy five cents

You are overly sexualized at a young age and because of this screwed up system,
to every boy, you are seen as nothing but a toy.
“grab her by the-”
Yes Mr. President.

What’s on your shoulders doesn’t really matter,
“as long as you have a nice piece of ass”
and if you’re upset and tired or simply opinionated,
it is going to be assumed that there is “blood coming out of your eyes-
or blood coming from wherever-”
and if you respond with a different tone of voice, you’re a “bitch”.
Seventy five cents

Get new boobs, plump your lips
Seventy five cents

Your success will be undermined,
It will be implied that you did whatever it took to get the job,
every bull you intimidate will call you every name in the book,
but that’s to be expected
Because there’s no way you got to the place you are based off of your intelligence.
Seventy five cents

Degrade yourself
Parade in miniskirts and roll around in singles
Be a piece of meat,
Entertain me, slut.
Seventy five cents.

(Seventy five cents,
Unless you’re hispanic then it’s fifty four cents,
and if you’re
Black
it’s even
less.)

We are worth way more than

Seventy Five Cents.

Character Sketch: “Her” by Kelsy Medrano (12)
She was filled with galaxies and supernovas that she herself couldn’t navigate. It was no wonder why she sometimes stops and stares at nothing in particular, looking a little lost and a little out of place–as if she just just remembered and relived an entirely different life in the seconds prior. No wonder why her heart yearned every single day for a life that never happened yet for her, it was her reality.
In every galaxy, there are black holes and I think this is why her heart always bled. She loves deeply, falls freely before the black hole can draw her of emotion–before it can turn her lifeless once again…
Her eyes were the color of coal, holding a flame that is slowly losing it’s light.
Her mind was a fortress. Inside the fortress were prisons where hope and happiness were chained in shackles. She is a careful and watchful, as if the moment, ever made it past her.
Her body was air, a whisper that never was. Nobody noticed her and she was okay with that. She was lonely but she wasn’t alone. Like air, she goes to different places and merely observes.
Her bones were a heap of mistakes and disappointments; her emotions an unsafe neighborhood. Yet she goes on and deal with the bitter hand life had given her.
She was as mystifying as nature itself. She was peculiar in the best way possible.
But she didn’t see herself the way I do.
She saw every little flaw, every little mistake in her being. She felt that she wasn’t good enough that perfection became the only thought in her head. The thought that finally consumed her entire being. It consumed her to the point where she became trapped in the darkness she had created.
But one thing is for sure, I have failed her.
I could’ve helped her but I didn’t.
I could’ve saved her but I didn’t.
And I don’t know if she’ll forgive me because I can never forgive myself…

Place Description: “Phantasmagoric Waters” by Denise Lam (12)
One kick of my lustrous rose tinted tail propelled me through the crystalline waters from an untouched island. I peeked above the waterline to steal one last glance at my tranquil birthplace. Optimistic, I submerged myself back under the sea and flew through shallow waters from the familiar shore, carpeted with coarse, shimmery sand. Water rushed past my face and glided on top of my dorsal tail as I accelerated, ecstatic for the bountiful adventures that awaited me. I swim through serene blue skies for nearly 20 miles before my brief trek through the open ocean concluded. Sunlight pierced through the sweet saturated sea, illuminating the dwellers of this fantasy land. A merry-go round of flaming fish, enclosed me into a worshipful tunnel and enticed me to glide deeper through the water, into my gorgeous new palace. Once the fish dispersed, an abundance of colorful coral stretched along the ocean floor for as far as the pupil could observe. Rays, sea turtles, and fish of all shapes and sizes, drifted through tunnels of towering rocks, embellished with coral. Emerald seahorses, the size of humans, drifted along the drawing motion of the tide. Their curled tails, soaring over meadows of lavish, leafy seaweed, paused on occasion to greet lilac scallops. An array of veiny coral fans swayed in the ocean current, greeting and tickling my delicate paper thin scales. Upon laying a finger on enormous rocky coral tubes, displaying immense frayed arms, their furry tentacles darted back with surprising speed into hollow tubes of crimson and ivory. The intense hues of each and every creature and coral swirled the ends of my lips into a jovial grin. Behind the massive tentacles revealed a vast cavern, illuminated by rays of sunlight reflected off hundreds of golf ball sized pearls, lining the exterior of the majestic cave. Inside the cavern rested an adorned crown, embellished with gems of sapphire and blush. The long awaited mermaid princess, queen of all sea creatures, was home.

Autobiographical Incident: “Keys” by Maddy Spangler (12)
I remember the funeral home like I remember the blizzard outside: cold, white, blank, and filled with considerably unhappy people.
Given the venue and the occasion, this last part wasn’t surprising. My grandmother’s unexpected death sent our family packing all the way across the country to somewhere in freezing Ohio for her funeral — it was a record blizzard, actually, which I think might have been more of a shock to our very well adjusted to the West Coast family than the sudden death of our grandmother. Ducking indoors didn’t provide much of a respite.
I don’t remember much from that day — all the rooms I do remember were echoing and too stiff and cold and big, but I also didn’t traverse much around the funeral home. My relatives were careful to herd me around any reminder of death they thought too blatant for an eight-year-old, so all I remember of the actual viewing room is the flash of fluorescent lights — apparently more flattering for chemically treated skin — and the head of my grandmother’s casket. Purple, I think, with some sort of rose engravings or decorations or something. It reminded me of the ones they used to have on display at our local Costco.
Nothing very significant happened to me that day. I sat on the tile floor of some side room, playing with mismatched Barbie parts drawn from a tub of toys some adult or another provided for us kids. My family cried. I had a new black dress and shoes on, because apparently, Death is a big and formal occasion. I didn’t peek into the viewing room and into the open casket, but out of morbid curiosity, I wish I did. Death is a lot more intimidating when you always try to keep it pushed back in the shadows.
I didn’t have any spiritual revelations that day, nor did I feel my grandmother’s spiritual presence, purple like her earrings and comforting and soft like those sugar cookies she bought from the grocery store, the ones with Shrek’s face on them. I do remember the posters lining the walls of whatever room I was in — even more gruesome than the company of who-knows-how-many dead people also sharing the building with us and my embalmed grandmother lying stark still just a room over, perfume replaced with formaldehyde. They paraded along the white, one foreboding graphic after another, warning against untimely, violent deaths brought about by texting and driving and drinking and driving.
What I remember the most is the keys. It was a display, a small collection held within a plastic case of the abandoned keys of teenagers who had been killed while driving for one reason or another, one stupid mistake or another. All young. All dead.
I stared at the keys and the display’s caption for a long time, and I think that was when I met Death for the first time, saw its finality not in my grandmother but in these nameless, bodiless corpses. I cried more at the deaths of these ghosts, these strangers interred in plastic, than I cried at my grandmother’s death.
I still don’t know what that says about me.

Short story: “A Model School Secretary” by Maddy Spangler (12)
Mrs. Maybury is a model school secretary.
She has the exact sort of look about her that one might imagine a school secretary to have: plump, smiling despite the frazzled state of her desk, buttoned up all snug in a mint green skirt suit, pleasant if a bit direct in her speech. She knows her job, she looks like her job, and she loves her job and her little world behind her desk, all contained in a tidy little cubicle.
She does wonderful work. She knows this, because she has been named Secretary of the Month by the other staff members (consisting of a principal, vice principal, Educators, campus security, and no other secretaries) each consecutive month that she has worked at Stafford Elementary.
So she hasn’t understand why the nice young lady in front of her — because every student is a nice young insert-gender-here at Stafford until proven otherwise — seems so baffled by her instructions.
“I’m sorry, let me repeat myself. I said, we do not teach here,” she says again, and then purses her lips in concern. “We do not teach here at Stafford Elementary. Oh — do you happen to have any hearing problems? All medical issues and concerns should be shared straight away with our school nurse.”
The nice young lady shakes her head. “No, I can, um, hear — I just don’t understand.”
Her voice is small, dubious, almost like a mouse surveying a trap, if mice could speak. Science dictates that no, they cannot, but Stafford Elementary has always encouraged students to dream big and past the realm of what society considers impossible.
“What part do you not understand?” She pushes her half-moon glasses — on a pink chain today, very Spring-esque — back up onto the bridge of her nose, and squints down at her stack of file folders. “What is your name? Let me see, do you need a translator? What language?”
“Nancy, um, Nancy Hee.”
“Yes, right, of course. H, H …ah! There we go. Hee, Nancy. Your paperwork says that you speak English as a first language. Is this incorrect? Here at Stafford, we have translators available for most languages, including all varieties of ancient Sumerian.” Mrs. Maybury folds her hands neatly atop the open file folder in front of her. “Please, let us know how be can best — ah, excuse me, umma-da ki e-da-sur?”
Nancy shakes her head, and hugs her lunchbox to her chest with spindly arms. Those wouldn’t do at all. She makes a mental note to not assign Miss Nancy Hee to lunchtime duty.
“I speak English. I just don’t understand — this is a school, why don’t you teach?”
“Ah!” Mrs. Maybury claps her hands together, straightening up with a broad, lipsticked smile, and nods in her best impression of Understanding and Sympathy. “You simply haven’t been through the inertia– introductory process, my dear. I’ll walk you through everything right now. Here, pull up a seat, dear, come along.”
Nancy pulls up a seat, dear, comes along, and Mrs. Maybury splays out her hands in a grand gesture. “Welcome, my dear Miss Nancy Hee, to Stafford Elementary! Here, we take education to new and unconventional levels to provide our students with the best knowledge and experience required for a solid foundation in life. We serve students K-12, twenty-six hours a day, nine days a week.”
“Aren’t there only seven..?”
“At Stafford Elementary, we encourage students to make the most of their time by introducing two additional days of the week, which fall between the previously existing days. The specific dates change depending on the week, of course, so they system also encourages students to remain alert and sharpen their skills of perception.”
Nancy looks confused. Mrs. Maybury realizes that she is probably just not very bright, and decided to move along anyways. “Every students explores each field of important life skills in their own time here at Stafford, including Nuclear Weaponry and Power Sources, Care and Breeding of Lovecraftian Beasts, The Modern Art of Assassination, Foreign Language For The Sake of Spying and Espionage, and maths.”
She peels a blank name tag off the sticker sheet that rests on the right side of her desk, and prints Nancy’s full name in neat, blocky letters. “Of course, we believe in the importance of individuality, so you will have some choice in the classes and programs that you will be assigned to. Now, each student here at Stafford is required to wear a nametag as a primary source of identification to best insure their success and safety on campus. May I ask you a few questions?”
“Um.”
“Wonderful! Now, what grade level were you in at your former school?”
“Fifth..?” She doesn’t sound confident in her answer, which is very concerning. Stafford has a no-excuses honesty policy. “Fifth grade”
“Excellent. I’ll start you at the Negative Third Level. Blood Type?”
“I, um, don’t know. Sorry.”
“I’ll just mark you down as universal.” Mrs. Maybury clicks her pen, and then glanced back up with a pleasant smile. “Does your family have any government affiliations or connections?”
“I don’t think so.”
Her smile widens with quiet relief, and her tight updo relaxes with her. “Wonderful, simply wonderful. Weight and height?”
“Um, I think — I think I was eighty pounds the last time I went to the doctor’s, and I’m a little bit taller than my friend, so — I think I’m about 4’9.” I don’t know. I haven’t gotten a check-up in a while.”
“Not to worry, my dear, our on-site medical staff here at Stafford is second-to-none. Paramedics, brain surgeons, doctors specializing in large teeth removal — we’ve got it. Do you have any other known medical problems?”
“Allergies,” she answers, this time much more quickly, and Mrs. Maybury jots down a note in the TERMINAL FLAWS column.
“Yes, yes, I’ll let the nurse know. What are you allergic to?”
“I think pollen. Some foods, like peanuts and melons. But I pack my lunches, so it’s okay.”
“Well, your start here will be the end of that,” she answers with a quiet tut-tut. “We believe in equal opportunity, and if one student packs a lunch from home, then they will almost certainly have something that the other students will not. Entirely against Marxist educational theory. I’ll consult with Nurse Rask to determine when you can begin your reconditioning.”
“My what..?”
“Reconditioning! Allergies are an unacceptable difference here at Stafford. We promote individuality, but only within certain constraints — I’m sure you understand, dear, you wouldn’t want to place any of your peers at a disadvantage or make them feel left out. If you get to have allergies, then why can’t little Timmy Brown, or Catherine Cuevas? It’s simply just not right, Miss Hee.”
“Oh,” she says, with all the enthusiasm of a deflated balloon, and Mrs. Maybury clucks sympathetically.
“Don’t you fret, Miss Hee, almost every student is sent to reconditioning for one reason or another. It’s simply a part of the education process!”
Nancy, for some odd reason that escapes Mrs. Maybury, does not look comforted. Deciding to breeze past it, she shuffles her stack of papers and flips to the next page. “I’ll consult with Nurse Rask after your reconditioning and finish filling our your medical information myself. Now, as for school involvement — are there any extracurriculars you might be interested in pursuing?”
“Um, I used to stay after school and play kickball, at my old school?”
“Kickball,” Mrs. Maybury says with a sympathetic click of her pen, “is a base sport for base people, and all children deserve better chances. If you are interested in sports, you may enjoy competitive jousting, gladiatorial arena training levels one through four, and speed-carving.”
Nancy, blinks and then drops her gaze down to her hands. She has multicolored rubber bands in a rainbow on her wrist. “ I think jousting sounds cool.”
“Excellent! I’ll let the coach know that you’re interested.” Mrs. Maybury jots down a quick note to herself in perfect loopy handwriting, and brings her chin back up with a wide beam including only a few false teeth. “Now all that’s left is the initial check-up. I will provide your class schedule after you check in with our nurse — ah, Nurse Rask?”
An inhuman but up-to-Stafford-standards of friendly growl answered from behind the door with the reminder poster that “A healthy body is a healthy heart, and healthy hearts appease the krakens and prevent the fiery destruction of life as we know it!” and Mrs. Maybury gestured Nancy over. “And the nurse is in! Go on, Miss Hee, I’ll check in with you later. Remember, a compliant patient is a happy patient! Shoo, shoo!”
Nancy hugs her book bag to her chest, and then shuffles off toward the nurse’s office, one slow step at a time. The door cracks open, a shadowy limb — today, Nurse Rask had apparently decided that tentacles would be most efficient — darts out like the tongue of a frog and pulls Nancy in, and the door shuts just as quickly as it had opened.
Mrs. Maybury settles back in her chair and allows herself a moment to sigh at another job well done, and then straightens back up again with the flash of a security monitor at her desk. The main door of the office swings open, and in come two more youngsters, wide-eyed and wonderfully plump. They would be model examples in the Properly Baiting a Monster course.
She pulls the corners of her mouth back into a bright smile, straightens her suit jacket, and folds her hands in front of her on her desk.
“Welcome to Stafford Elementary! How might I help you today?”