The Write Stuff

09 Jun 2021

Imagining the future with Highlands Schools

By Kat Ford

In March, artist, novelist and Plateau Magazine contributor, the powerhouse of creativity known as Diane McPhail, asked me to co-judge an art and literacy contest. Inspired by Amanda Gorman's inaugural poem, "The Hill We Climb," Highlander Jane Jerry wondered how Highlands' students feel about coming years, creating a call for submissions themed, "Imagine the Future." From third to twelfth grade, submitted works ran the gamut from inspiringly aspirational to hauntingly prophetic, profound perseverance to intuitive innovation. We awarded five Honorable Mentions for Literature and Visual Arts, and commendations for 14 "Powerful Lines," phrases that were so emotionally profound and deeply reflective, we felt compelled to share. The minds of the future have plenty to say- and the creative articulation to do so.


1st Place

“Why Is It Sometimes So Hard to Write?”

By Conor Thorske, 10th grade

Why is it sometimes so hard to write?

Hard to keep your head up to continue this fight,

Tell me your scary thoughts that keep you up at night.

Tell me why you keep so quiet in school.

Maybe it’s because everyone has mistaken you for a fool,

Tossed into an empty box and forgotten like a rusty tool.

Still not sure what school has to offer, 

Still not sure if I want to be a lawyer or a doctor, 

Still not sure if I will even prosper.

2nd  Place

“The Simple Things”

By Bailey Cronkrite, 6th grade

My hope for the future is that we'll always enjoy the simple things.

We should enjoy every time a bird sings.

Every day we enjoy these kinds of things less and less.

We should all take a look at an old picture and say..

"Look at how young I was then!

I should learn to live like that again!"

You never stopped living like that,

You just stopped thinking like that.

You should never stop loving, learning, and caring

About the simple things.

Just remember to take a moment to say, 

"I remember the days I loved the simple things, 

Like when a bird sings."

3rd Place


By Megan Rehmeier, 12th grade

Words that are written so worlds can be made.

Pages bound together to make a story.

Sentences produced to be narrated.

Stories created not to bring glory,

But to make a gateway to new places.

Lessons that are created and taught.

Threads of a story are woven like laces.

Heartbreak, sorrow, and tears happen a lot,

Although, happiness and laughter also bloom.

Writing these words causes the greatest joy.

Books, adventures, and words made to consume.

Stories written to last and not destroy.

Books create a world outside of our own,

One we can travel to and never be alone.

Honorable Mentions

“The Assist” by Aniah McKim

“Japan” by Owen Munoz, 10th grade

“Fresh Air” by Jacob Holt, 10th grade

“Nephews” by Brooklynn Houston, 12th grade

“Change in Inventors” by Ethan Tate, 12th grade

Visual Arts:

1st Place

India Clark, 10th grade

2nd Place 

Vivian Kennedy, 7th grade

3nd Place 

Blake Kenter, 3rd grade

Honorable Mentions

Riley Logan, 9th grade

Lawson Shuler, 11th grade

Reese Brewer, 11th grade

Harper Ramey, 3rd grade

Magnolia Cunningham, 7th grade


For works completed in teams or through multiple disciplines

“Grief to Growth” (With accompanying art submission) 

by Margaret Cole, Cayden Pierson, Jaylin Raby, Nicole Taylor, 7th grade

I’ve always dreamt for the day that I became something

Something that has purpose 

Something that is wanted

Something that is needed

But for now all I can do is hope

I’ve always dreamt for the day that I became something

But for now I’m 





I’ve always dreamt for the day that I became something

And then I became

Something that has purpose 

Something that is wanted

Something that is needed

Something that is real.

Canvas with poetry 

Arabel Aulisio, Falon Brewer, Elizabeth Hall, Mia Craig, 5th grade

“The Never Ending Development” (With accompanying art submission)

by Elise Ramsey, 7th grade

When the past cannot push the underlying success of the future a reformation has to be made to the existing system of development.

Once this change has occurred then the success of the new development will be greater, and live longer than the last.

“Vision of Future” (With accompanying art submission)

by Matthew Morales Campos, 3rd grade

I pridict in the future that there are gonna be go karts that move to the class your going to. And there’s gonna be 3 super buses that could fly very high to get to places faster. And maybe could drive by there selfs. We could have a big ative panel and with a giant key board the teacher can write on. And we can teleport to school.

Powerful Lines

I have such big dreams, where does my hope come from?  

Adisyn Westendorf, 10th grade

The tires and brakes smelling like steaks cooked rare, 

Ty Skiles, 10th grade

Judges’ Comment: One of the great challenges of creative writing is the use of strong, unusual similes and metaphors. The simile in this line is striking—a real surprise for the reader.

Life is like a rollercoaster, 

always going forward, 

never going back, 

Yasnín Jarquin Colmenares, 10th grade

I don’t want to grow up.

But I want to see… 

Bella Wilson, 10th grade

It is what you do with the bad days to make the next day fit. 

Karmen Jenkins, 10th grade

We are said to have matured leaps and bounds, 

But we have mentally hit highs and lows.

Jordan Carrier, 12th grade

All the while, the old me is now outgrown. 

Garrison Chalker, 12th grade

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle they have said

Some people listened, but most just ignored.

Alyson Dayton, 12th grade

Friends may turn into strangers down the road 

We will make new relationships with others 

We’ll be wishing our life could be slowed 

Joana Jiminex-Reyes, 12th grade

Taking from what we already know,

We form ideas that help us tackle the unknown.

Each with different ideas, so we’re not clones.

Jamie King, 12th grade

Judges’ Comment: The concept in these lines is a strong and essential message to all of us: that both the present and future are formed by our background, yet depend not on our likenesses, but on our diversity.

For my future I see a sunny day

Down life's road two years finally free,

Finally beat cancer now I can play

You could find me walking around with glee.

Logan Petrone, 12th grade

Judges’ Comment: Logan’s use of bright and promising imagery against the contrasting theme of fighting cancer pulls the reader into a deeper level of empathy. While not all readers will have the personal experience to understand Logan’s fight, many will understand the feeling of a care-free sunny day. By using this comparison to explain his desire to get those days back, he has created an avenue for the reader to better relate with a very personal journey.

But fear not the sorrows of sad success. 

Hadley Templeton, 12th grade

Judges’ Comment: Strong creative writing that surprises the reader in only a few words is difficult, both in forming the idea and in expressing it. This line is powerful in the use of spare language, strong alliteration, and the stunning concept that success does not always equal happiness.

How could we die from a death so feminine?  

Rebekah Wiggins, 12th grade

Judges’ Comment: By assigning an assumed gender to mass death (masculine, through implied situations such as war) and questioning how humanity could face a mass feminine death through Mother Nature (this poem is about pollution), Rebekah gets the readers’ attention by using the concept of gender rolls to create a parallel argument as to why humanity should be equally as concerned with pollution as they are with world war.

You think you know me? 

Come try living in the deep end.

Carter Mosely

Judges’ Comment: It was difficult to pull just one powerful line from this piece of writing, as Carter executed multiple profound statements in articulating emotional struggles with grief and perseverance.

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