WINNERS WINNERS WINNERS of the Winter Short Story Contest

Leia Wilson, Dedicated Writer

If you are a staff member or student at Westlake Middle School, you know about the Winter Story Contest.  I just want to say thank you to all of the amazing writers who entered this competition. It was really hard to decide the winner. This was a contest where students and staff got to show their writing talent. The judges of this contest decided on the winners by looking at the creativity, originality, how engaging, and the overall quality of the pieces.  There was a panel of three student judges, plus two teacher judges.

Now, here are the winners of the Winter Story Writing Contest PLUS each of their stories.

1st Place Story: Nicolas Graham, 8th Grade

2nd Place Story: Montana Lang, 7th Grade

3rd Place Stories: Sierra Plowman, 7th Grade, and Isabella Galloway, 6th Grade

Staff Winners: Mrs. Georgia and Mrs. Namuth

Must Go to School

Daphne Georgia, 6th Grade Social Studies Teacher

It is just a faint memory now…those days of trying to get to school in waist deep snow.  Hitching the horses to the sleigh instead of the wagon and hoping that they would know how to find their way into town through osmosis rather than sight as the blizzard made it impossible to see.  Saying goodbye to her parents knowing it might be a week before she saw them again. Staying with a family who lived in town that knew that the farm children would need a place to sleep. Usually a fun time, unless the stay was with the Gordon family.  He drank too much and too often and She had too many little Gordons to care for to pay attention to another child. Why did they even volunteer to keep an extra? Probably for the gifts they knew they would receive from the grateful families whose children they “cared” for.  There was never even a second thought about how dangerous the trip might be. Nine years old, in a white out blizzard, living with strangers, all alone. 

 

 Must go to school.

 

Eighty years later she sits in her chair and recalls those days.  She will recount her adventures to anyone who will listen. Her memories fade in and out, in and out.  Sometimes she recalls vivid details, other days not as many. The one thing that never leaves her is the cold…to this day she is always cold. 

 

 “Can I have a blanket for my lap, please?” 

“Will you help me zip my sweater?”

“ It is chilly today, isn’t it?”

“My feet ache they are so cold.” 

“Did I ever tell you about the time I had to go to school during a blizzard?”

 

 Must go to school.

 

Edgar vs. the Tree vs. Me

Anne Namuth, 8th Grade Language Arts Teacher

It’s time to put up our Christmas tree. Except: I have a cat. Not just any cat. A 14 pound squishy cat who — until it’s time to put up a tree — is pretty perfect. He purrs when I talk to him and follows me around the house just in case it’s time to cuddle. 

We asked Google and friends for advice about how to deter a cat from playing with the tree. One said to put an orange in the tree. True to character, Edgar turned his nose up at the smell of citrus, but didn’t let it keep him from checking out the tree. 

Nor did the smell of peppermint.

Nor did the smell of vinegar.

Our friends and Google have failed us. Edgar, it seems, is an atypical cat. I know this. When I wanted to keep him off the kitchen counter, I covered the whole counter in upside-down tape. Once Edgar figured out it was only sticky, he walked right across it. Another time I lit small candles to keep him off; once he figured out they were not too hot, he walked over them to sniff the plates of food.

I should have known. 

There is no deterring Edgar. 

Whoever said curiosity killed the cat knew a cat like Edgar.

It’s not so bad that he wants to play with the tree. I can hang non-breakable, not sentimental ornaments on it. But, he usually wants to play at 2:30 in the morning.

Then there was last night. In his eyes I saw a set determination to jump. On the tree. Or in the tree. I’m not sure.

Remember, Edgar is 14 pounds — a big cat. I knew the tree would fall if he jumped. Watching the mischief in his eyes shift from planning toward action, I could envision the scene playing out . . . 

Edgar would jump. The tree would wobble. Then tip. Toward the dog laying on her bed. Molly, our dog, is a nervous sort. She would jump off her bed and start barking. Edgar would scramble to get out from under the falling tree and Molly would recognize his scrambling as a signal to play chase. Molly would jump over the fallen tree to follow Edgar into the next room. The string of lights would probably follow as their tails tangled in the cords. 

Defensively I sat on the floor with squirt bottle in hand. 

He pawed. I sprayed. He growled. I waited. 

He jumped. I sprayed. 

He ran in circles. 

I waited.

He bit. 

I sprayed.

For 18 minutes we went back and forth like this. He . . . I sprayed. It was a battle of the wills. A standoff for power. 

I won. 

The tree is standing with ornaments in tact. He left the tree alone for eight hours while we got a full night’s rest.

 

Friends Are Not The Only Ones Who Help Us

Nicolas Graham, 8th Grade Student

The kid was frozen. He had no coat because he thought he was strong enough to face the harsh winter alone, just to build a snowman. He lay unconscious in his backyard, hearing his mom tell him to come inside for some peppermint hot chocolate. His temptation of hot chocolate motivates him to inch toward the door. He crawls to the backdoor of the ramshackle cottage at the edge of the woods. Almost there. Keep moving. Hot Chocolate. In the mountains, snow always fell. Three whole feet of show slowed him down to the speed of a snail. He was moving his legs, up and down, up and down. The blistering cold nipped at his gloveless fingers. The howling wind was approaching and getting louder. He could see the faint glow of the back porch light. The smell of the hot chocolate was enough to bring minimal energy to him. One foot in front of the other. Keep moving. It’s Hot Chocolate! He makes it to the stairs of the deck. He climbs up the first step and then the second one until he reaches the last one. He is exhausted and just wants to be warm and fed. He just can’t take it anymore. He falls back down the stairs he worked so hard to climb up. He feels hard and very skinny arms lift him gingerly. The arms, as thin as twigs, feel welcoming as he is comforted by a round white body. He feels himself being lifted in front of the door. Knock Knock, as the wooden hand pounds on the door. Mom comes back to the door and sees her son lying on the wooden deck unconscious. What has happened to him? Will he be alright? She hurried to put him back in his bed. She put the hot chocolate on his nightstand. She placed warm blankets over him. The warm and fuzzy flannel sheets comforted his bone-chilled body.

 

The room is silent. He feels warmth again. The soft sheets and the warm heater placed by his bed awakens him in peace. His lamp was turned down low. The smell of the cup of hot chocolate on his nightstand welcomes him back to earth. He slowly pulls himself up and reaches out for his hot chocolate. He takes the warm, smooth, cup in his hands and takes a sip. The chocolate explodes in his mouth, a comforting vibrant taste. He looks outside to see the blanket of snow that has fallen. He can make out one shape in the white, the snowman he built earlier that day.

 

Tonktasu

Montana Lang, 7th Grade Student

Cold.

That was all the young boy could feel as he stumbled through the snow, the vicious wind whipping furiously at his face. Despite the thick clothing that he wore, made of the finest furs that his village could gather, the boy could still feel the cold chilling his bones.

But in spite of the freezing weather, the boy, whose name was Chaska, knew he had to go on, for he was on a mission. A mission to bring the precious cargo that he now diligently cradled in his arms, bundled between layers of fur to a place called Tonktasu.

This was a tradition passed on throughout the Mikaha tribe. Once a tribesperson turned 13, he or she was to deliver a small stone to Tonktasu, a sacred place where it was said the gods reside, by sunset. If the tribesperson made it to Tonktasu in time, and if the gods deemed that person worthy, they would engrave the stone with a special engraving unique to each individual, and they would be able to live the rest of their life as a tribesperson. 

But, if that person did not make it to Tonktasu on time, or the gods did not deem the individual worthy, the stone would remain untouched, and that person would be banished from the Tonktasu tribe, a fate considered worse than death. 

Normally, traveling to Tonktasu would have been an easy task, but the blizzard made it nearly impossible. 

But Chaska knew he had to get to Tonktasu, and so he pressed on, the wind shoving him back every few steps. At this pace, he would never make it on time. At the start of his journey, Chaska was determined, but his determination was beginning to dwindle. 

“Come on…just a little…while..longer…” Chaska repeated to himself in desperation. 

Chaska was exhausted. He stumbled and collapsed, letting his body sink in the snow. Tears began to form as dismay clouded his mind. Chaska could only lie there as snow seeped through his clothing and the wind howled in his ears. 

Suddenly, everything was silent. It was as if the blizzard had disappeared completely. 

Chaska opened his eyes as he sat up. He then realized that he was face to face with a wolf. 

The boy cried out in shock, standing up and stumbling backward. The creature was huge, its head level with his stomach. It had thick, pure white fur and piercing amber eyes. 

Chaska drew his knife, his heart racing. 

“G-get back!” He shouted. 

The wolf only stared at him. 

The wolf turned around and walked away. It then stopped, turned around, and looked at Chaska. 

Chaska’s instincts told him to follow the creature. He picked up his stone and jogged after the wolf. 

After a while, the wolf suddenly stopped. They were standing in a circle of trees. Chaska could feel powerful energy coursing through the area.

Suddenly, a flash of lightning struck the stone he held. 

Engraved in the stone was the carving of an eagle. 

 

A Winter Wonderland

Sierra Plowman, 7th Grade Student

Snowflakes slowly dropped from the sky. Icicles clung to the edge of icy tree branches. The faded smell of hot chocolate filled my nose while the cold bit at my face. I had been traveling for what seemed like miles, from the ski route I had mistakenly taken from our resort. It seemed hopeless that anything else, besides the little rabbits that danced around me, was here. My ski boots trudged in the snow, each step hurting even more. I had let go of my skis a long time ago, hoping someone else would find them and bring them to me. Dark was beginning to fall and I was getting hungry. I sat down to rest on a frozen log held in place by two large rocks. What was happening? How I longed to be in my mother’s arms, or sitting on my father’s lap while he recalled of the many adventures he would have in the snow in his big, deep voice. If the snow was as fluffy as it looked, I would be able to stay warm. Warm. What a wonderful word. Suddenly the snow appeared so cozy and warm it was fit for royalty. I blinked and pinched myself. Wha- I looked up and saw two icy blue eyes staring back at me. 

       “Ahhhhh!” I screamed, as I tumbled off the log. “Who- What are you??”

       The creature looked down and I stood in shock. “Why it seems as I want the same question answered. Please forgive my manners. I am Fred Ice Abominable Snowman the 3rd. And who might you be.”

        I still couldn’t force my mouth to close. This thing could talk? “I-I-I’m Eleanor.”

       “Why, Eleanor, it’s so cold out here, you must be dying to warm up. Climb on my back and I’ll show you to my igloo and we can catch up.” He smiled at me. Truthfully, I feel as if my feet had gone numb. Warmth was a flavor I was dying to eat. I nodded and climbed on Fred’s back. 

       We talked and talked on the journey to Fred’s igloo. He was very kind, not that I could judge from another Abominable Snowman. He was very easy to talk to. We stopped at a very large rock that Fred lifted up and put down. Then the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen appeared in front of me. Shiny ice and jewels covered the hall and Fred entered a beautifully carved ice bed with snow covers. Everything was so shiny and pretty. Fred gave me food—an ice salad with little berries—and we were starting to become good friends.

       “You should go soon, and I’ve loved getting to know you. I’ve been so lonely for so long, and you’ve made me happy.” Fred handed me an icy blue gemstone necklace. “Don’t forget me.” Fred snapped his fingers and I was spun in a whirlwind of snow. 

        “Ellie! Where have you been?” My mother said, as I ran out of the trees towards her

        I hugged her and smiled. “A Winter Wonderland.”

 

The Orphans and the Snow

Isabella Galloway, 6th Grade Student

In the far far south, there is a city called Tuto with a mountain called St. Callon. Now, the city is very poor, so most of the population lived on the streets. It always snowed in Tuto, no matter what season. But winter was fatal for the citizens. Children in ragged cloaks and blankets huddle together for warmth. Parents would try to steal bread for the children and themselves. But, the people who were wealthy, paid no attention to the begging children. In fact, they were very cruel to the orphans of Tuto. Instead of giving money, they kicked dust in their faces and would accuse them of trying to steal their jewels. They were bad people. 

 

Two orphans, Zara and Joan-ah, had enough. One day, they set out to find a safer home for the people who lived on the streets. Zara and Joan-ah had lost their parents at a very young age. 

“Brother, we must find a home for all of us to live in.”

“But, Zara, we need money to buy a home!” Whined Joan-ah.

“Brother, we can materials to build a house!”

 

And so, Zara and Joan-ah set off to get materials to build a shelter. They vowed to not come back until they found a home. They found a tree, but it was full of toxic snow spiders. Many days passed, they were starting to get worried. What if  they have already gotten frostbite? What if they froze to death? Please, no! Wondered Zara. The snow was getting worse as christmas was upon them. 

 

“Brother, we may have to go far away to find a home for our friends.” Zara said as she grabbed sticks to make a fire.

“But Zara,  how will we get food? Water? Warmth?”

“ We will make do, little brother, like we always do.”

 

Joan-ah started to build a little structure. The snow molded into a little pillow. Joan-ah was a smart boy for his age, along with his sister, they could be unstoppable and could show those snooty wealthy people whose boss!

 

“Zara, can you sing me that song that Mom used to sing?”

“Yes, little brother.” Replies Zara. “Anything for you.”

Joan-ah settles down.

“The snow is a tool or a weapon. Friend or foe. But, when it falls on your head, it’s like it’s whispering, “I’m here to help.” 

 

Joan-ah is fast asleep. But, then it comes to Zara and what she needed to do. 

 

“Brother, I know how to save our friends! Our family!”

 

She quickly tells him her idea. Joan-ah laughs in joy to the sound of the word.

 

“Go! Tell them! I will start!”

 

In the end, they found a home. A home that was there all long. Igloos to house all of them. To make money, they would sell ice. Then, they bought themselves a little pine tree, to celebrate Christmas. They thanked Zara an Joan-ah’s mother for the song, and their wonderful friend, the snow.