Student Work

My room is on the bottom floor, so I slide the window open and jump out. I can still hear the noise coming from inside the house. I smell someone else's barbeque and the smell almost hurts my senses. It smells the way my house used to smell when we had the money. I hear laughter, it comes from my neighbor's backyard. I lick my lips and sit on our pale yellow grass. Landscaping wasn't an option now. Everyone else had a green lawn. Yellow wasn't the right color for grass.

A 5th grader, writing in the voice of a character whose family is feeling the pressure of the economic crisis.

Trees, cars, houses sped by my window. The Metro North train was like a bullet. Fast. What we were doing was crazy, idiotic and totally exhilarating. This was my chance. Everyone needs to run away once, release all that pent up energy. The dark tunnels of Grand Central sped up and swallowed us like some huge snake. We stepped outside the train, walked upstairs in a daze and stared at the maze of Manhattan. For a first time glance, it was like staring at a rainforest. A rainforest made up of metal.

A 6th grader, writing in the voice of a character who abandoned a soccer game that he felt pressured to play.

Ben: I grab my crutches and head toward the back door. I swing it open and thunder and rain greet me. I limp down the stairs and realize I forgot my braces. I can't go back inside. Not now. Puddles. Everywhere. I move my crutches faster and faster. My legs are soaked and my crutches get slippery. The rain falls harder. I lose my balance leaning from one side to another. And then, I collapse to the ground. Pain rushes through my legs.

Kate: "Ben!" I scream. I sprint out into the rain and hear thunder boom in my ear. Lightning scars the sky. I run across the street, ignoring the cars zooming by. I spot him in a parked car. "Ben!" I scream louder. I think I feel tears coming out of my eyes but I can't be sure. So much rain. It blurs my vision. Ben is moaning with pain and I sit down beside him...and cry.

Two 5th graders, writing in the voices Ben and Kate, two siblings who must confront Ben's disability and their rivalry.

"Hi Tallulah," I said softly. She was still at her locker, probably preparing her books for her next class. "Hi Josh," she said sarcastically, giving an unnecessary sneer while saying it. And, with a swoosh of her hair, which nearly got me in the eye, she vanished into the throngs of people clogging up the halls. I couldn't believe it! Only yesterday she was treating me with kindness and giving me the occasional flutter of the eyelashes. And now, she looked me in the face like I was a dirty little bug which she was trying to squish.

A 6th grader, writing in the voice of a character caught in a web of gossip and subtle exclusion.

"You!" I said to a slave girl, grabbing her elbow. She paused in horror. "Do not be afraid. Tell the cooks Apollo has asked them to make extra nectar and ambrosia for Zeus to devour." The slave nodded and scurried. The extra food would hold my father off for awhile. I swiftly grabbed my golden bow. As I went closer to the gates of Mount Olympus, Artemis' words made more sense. "You have to live life the way you see fit." I was destined to save that girl from the monstrous beast.

A 6th grader studying Greek mythology, writing in the voice of an adolescent Apollo wrestling with his controlling father, Zeus, and his own autonomy.

My heart was trembling like it had feelings. As I held the ruby in my sweaty palm I thought to myself, what had I become? What had I done? I took away the sparkle from my friends, classmates and family. I took away the love that came from Maya's favorite uncle when he gave Maya her bracelet. I took away the tenderness and love in everything. Why had I done it? Why was I a STEALER? Then I knew why...I took out all of my anger because of my mom's death.

A 5th grader, writing in the voice of a character who "borrows" shiny things to compensate for the loss of her mother.

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