The 2006-2007 Essay Contest:
Honorable Mention

High School Division Honorable Mention

Emily Fleck
Grade 11
Oshkosh North High School
Oshkosh, Wisconsin


"Ugh, they're disgusting!"

"How can you say that, you don't even know 'em?"

"HA, I don't wanna know them!"

"Whatever, you're pathetic."

Kyle is not the only one to say those words, she thought as she flipped through the stack of pictures from her summer. Sandy Wheels Camp, 2006, is an experience that she will never forget.

"See, look at him, how can you stand that?" Kyle asked for the millionth time.

"It was hard, believe me, but it is all worth it knowing you made someone's day a little better," Jenny sternly said, trying to pound the idea into his head.

Ignoring everyone else in the room, she continued to look through the pictures. Feelings of happiness, anger, and more than all, sadness rushed through her. The only thing that kept her from totally breaking down was the thought that these campers felt ten times worse knowing that they could not do basic things on their own.

"Ya know, Kyle, these "retards", as you would say, know everything that's goin' on. They can tell when you're makin' fun of them and most importantly it hurts them to know that they need someone to do almost everything for them."

"They're retarded, how would they know?" he asked with some concern.

"Since I was there for the two weeks and there were different campers each week, I know that not even half of the campers were actually diagnosed with mental retardation. The most common disorder the camper's had was Cerebral Palsy, a muscular disorder, although there are many other disorders."

Once again, disregarding everyone else she continued to flip through. She came across a picture of her first week campers, Michael and Jacob, both in wheelchairs. Trying to push two manual wheelchairs up hills for seven days was hell. Although Jacob continuously said, "I wanna go home," he had a blast, it was just part of his disorder. Michael was another story. This camp was his first time away from home ever. He was twelve years old and it was obvious he was a "momma's boy." As soon as his parents walked out the doors he cried and threw a fit from two o'clock until dinner.

As Jenny turned to her boyfriend, Chris, she stated, "Mentally disabled people get talked about more than any other group of people, and they're the ones who can't stick up for themselves. What's even worse is you'll never hear anything judgmental come out of their mouths."

Chris had come to visit her both weeks of the camp that he was able to. Jenny knew that if he was not her boyfriend he would be the same way as Kyle. Chris sat on the phone with Jenny every night once the campers were asleep. He listened to her complain, but she always had good stories to tell. When Chris came to visit he even made friends with her campers.

She came across one picture and it really made her think. The picture was of a group of campers smiling and goofing around. What was in the background was what made her sad, it was one of the other campers named Josh. His mother abandoned him at birth when she found out he was blind, deaf, and mentally retarded. She just had to remind herself that despite Josh not being able to communicate his feelings he had the chance to do things he would never be able to do before by coming to this camp. He got to swim, have campfires, take walks in the woods, make crafts, and Jenny was part of it

She now came to the pictures of the second week of camp. Her campers that week were Levi and Scott. Levi was thirteen years old and Scott was twenty. Levi was only diagnosed with Downs Syndrome and Developmental Delay, but Scott was one of the few who were actually considered to be mentally retarded. His mental retardation was not that severe, but it consisted of him thinking he was Elvis Presley or Johnny Cash. No matter what was going on he was always dancing and singing with his sunglasses on. He had a temper and she could tell he felt bad about not being able to do things on his own. He drove Jenny insane, but she could not help but to be happy for him.

Levi on the other hand was pure joy. He ran around all day playing with the other kids and became a little brother to Jenny. He went up for seconds and even thirds at lunch and dinner time like any other teenage boy.

Besides their little faults, these people started to seem like they did not have any disabilities. They each had their own personalities, styles, likes, and dislikes. Everyone is different in their own way and for these people their disability was it.

The next picture she flipped to was of some of her favorites, Adam and Donald. Adam was fifteen and Donald was twenty-five, but they were the best buds in the world. These two could put a smile on anyone's face. Donald was in a wheelchair, but something was different about him. He was not born with his disability. The surprising thing is he was completely happy being the way he was, even though it was all because of one accident. During winter, about eight years earlier, he fell on the ice and hit his head on a thick icicle and had damage to his brain and spine. He always said that that fall saved him. By that he meant that if he had not become disabled he would have gone the wrong way in life. At the time he fell he was hanging around the wrong people who led him into drugs and criminal acts. Now he looks to God and thanks him every day.

She came to the last picture of her and Jacob. He did not have much personality but there is one thing Jenny will never forget about him. She took Jacob through a stroll in the woods. They came to a stream that was beautiful. Jacob told her he wanted to just sit here for a while and look around. They were there for about five minutes when Jenny realized she was almost to her breaking point. A few tears rolled down her cheeks. Jacob noticed how depressed she had gotten. He put his arm out for her and repeated, "What, What, What?" He did not know many words, but he could understand everything said. Just this action by him made Jenny feel like she was here for a reason.

Knowing that 90% of the people in the world will never experience what she did depressed her. But, she knew the best thing she could do from now on was stick up for the defenseless. Her job from now on was to tell her story and inform as many as possible of how intelligent these campers are.

Janet Fletcher
Grade 9
Central High School of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Catherine Finds Her Way

Far away in a town along the coast of Washington state lived a girl named Catherine and her family. Catherine wasn't your average city girl. She and her parents were Native Americans. They were poor and she was a bit overweight.

Every day when Catherine went to school she was teased because of her obesity and her ethnicity. All the other students would go around calling her "fat cat" and "Squanto". This hurt Catherine. She couldn't help who she was and her parents had taught her to appreciate her Native American heritage. She didn't like being fat but the food available at home was primarily cheap, starchy, high calorie food like macaroni, peanut butter, cheese, and flour.

Catherine liked school but it was so hard to participate in classroom activities because she didn't want to call attention to herself. So she stayed quiet. Her homework suffered because there was no one at home to help her and she didn't feel comfortable asking for help in school.

One day as Catherine was walking to class, she heard some girls talking. "Look at that squaw girl," one of the girls said. "Don't get close to her. I bet she stinks."

She was so hurt. She wanted to run as far as she could. Maybe she could just die. Maybe she could just run away and forget about this pressure. She remembered her cousins who did just that.

Catherine went home in tears. Her mom was in the kitchen making dinner. "What's wrong Cat?" asked her mother. Cat just sobbed. "Don't let 'em get ya down girl, whatever's wrong, you can overcome," said her mother through her own tears. "You are loved, beautiful, smart and kind. You gotta keep fighting."

Catherine wanted to keep hiding but her mom had such confidence and such hope for her that Catherine decided that she had to keep trying even though it seemed as though the world was against her.

Catherine continued to struggle until she got up her courage to ask her teachers for special help. She walked past the students who made fun of her. She looked around and found other students like her who seemed alone and lost in their studies. She offered to help them and gradually they became an organization. They were called SHEOS (Students Helping Each Other Succeed).

Some of the students thought it should just be a Native American group but she said, "No, this is an organization that doesn't discriminate. Our purpose is to help whoever needs our help."

The group thought about other ways to help each other. Nutrition was an issue. Most of the kids were from poor families and they all had to deal with the same food problem of cheap, high calorie diets. They asked the school to provide lunches that were more healthful to supplement their home diets.

Catherine continued to have challenges at school and home. Life is never easy for a poor, minority student, but Catherine found that she wasn't so different from many of the other students. This gave her courage and her experience brought her new friends.

Anthony Gouw
Grade 11
Ward Melville High School
East Setauket, New York

80 cycles. Today makes 80 cycles of these Zites and their bloody war. I shudder as I remember the reports on their "anniversary gifts" I saw earlier, the one where the new shipment of H2O antibiotics were replaced with pure neovenom. The entire load went straight into Sokoto's main reservoir. It wasn't that bad on its own. Nobody panicked. It takes just a gram of remedy to bring you back to stable condition.

Then their hackers shut down the refrigeration on the main sickbay.

Even back home in Qinghai we felt it. Thousands of our cousins asphyxiating in their own homes, glasses of poisoned water spilled on the floor beside them. We saw our people being massacred by an invisible Zitic horde, and we cried. And we knew that the Zites were no longer playing Risk with us.

I'm a lucky one. Lars lost his father to the toxins. He left for matters of business just one day before the onslaught. When the neopoison activated, he didn't even stand a chance. Lars tells me that, somehow, they found him standing, even after being choked to death by hidden Zitic hands. Lars hasn't been out since it happened. I hope he's OK.

Hope, right now, is the only thing I can give, and the only glue keeping my mind from falling apart. *Never lose hope*, I remind myself silently. *Pain is psychological.* It helps that, here in Bordeaux, there aren't those speakers blaring on every block. For some reason, as of recent they've been singing in my head, just irking. It's hard to explain. Even without, they still upset me; anger me to the point where I don't even know who I'm angry at. Bordeaux has been neutral for all fourscore cycles and will probably remain that way. I think it's the only city on the entire moon that hasn't been assaulted by them in some way. It's probably the best place for Emmie and I to hang out in, as it's probably going to stay that way if the Zites don't want heavies brought into the picture.

And yes. Then there's Emmie.

I don't know when I met her, but I do remember her becoming visibly angry whenever the instructor referred to her as Emmeline. I always thought it was pretty funny, but I thought it was pretty sad that she didn't seem to want to talk to anyone, but had always shown an interest in me. It was almost out of a movie, how it had happened. I was assigned randomly to work with her on a project. We didn't cut off contact after we finished it.

We talked more and more, and I knew something was happening. I was going to tell her how I felt today. I wanted to tell her the other day, right before the Sokoto incident, but she held off on it and told me to meet her in two weeks right in the Loop, the round center of Bordeaux, so neither Zita nor Terre would be placed above the other. I think they took the idea from some story from thousands of cycles ago, about a king whose table held all his knights in the same esteem. I think it had worked, because I had hardly ever seen a Zite before, and I imagine them to look quite horrendous.

She hadn't said a word to me since then, and I wasn't sure that she would be here after all this has happened. I don't have much to do, though, so even if she doesn't come my time won't be wasted. I walk into the Loop and see her sitting on one of the center benches.

I walk to her, and sit down next to her. "Hi," I whisper, almost meekly. "Hey."

In an effort to kill the awkward silence that follows, I try to create small-talk. "Yeah. So how's it going'?"

She looks as if she's trying to tell me something, but is debating whether or not to. She gives in. "I have to let you know." She takes out a small card. "It's better if you just see it." I take it and pull my sleeve up, showing the cardswipe all Terrens are given at birth. It's an amazing technology. Just one pass of a card can send information that would have taken rooms of computers to hold just a few cycles ago. I think it's just one reason that the Zites have led their war on us. Jealousy.

I slide the card through, and my world caves in.

I see--I see our history--I see the massive numbers of people moving to this new moon a light-year away, this Terre--I see it being a fresh start for a race of us creatures so violent and territorial, a true land of peace--I see the split, the split between Zites and Terrens--I see, oh I see! I see nothing, oh god, it was over nothing. All these lives lost for nothing but old, meaningless divides we thought we had left on our old planet, divides of race and religion and culture and insignificant things that left so many of us gone in the wake of our own pride. I see how we carpeted Staffordhills with flames and I see the countless thousands of Zites burning alive, and I see the antibiotics they replaced with neovenom and I see how in half a cycle we are going to unleash a murderous bacterium right over Cairo and watch the Zite city fall in on itself--and I see--I see that you cannot tell a Zite from a Terren without their ID's and their cardswipes and all those artificial things our leaders have created. And I see--I see--

Emmie is a Zite.

And then I see nothing.

When I wake, I'm lying on a bed and she's sitting next to me. She doesn't say anything, but I saw. I know that she hadn't found out about herself much earlier than I did, and that she saw the same images I had. I know she came to the exact conclusion that I did, and it was all my mind would echo as I sit up and look into her eyes.

I am a Zite.

I am a Terren also.

We are all Zites, and we are all Terrens, and every time a Zite is killed, we should mourn for a lost Terren.

I get up off the bed completely and stand, but just barely. My mind is having a bit of an issue, not understanding this new information, but accepting its truth. But I know it is truth. I continue to look into her eyes, and we know what we must do.

We must fight to destroy Zita. We must end Terre's existence, as well. As long as a boundary exists between two peoples that are exactly alike, there can be no true humanity. There can be no achievement when prejudice and even murder occur in the name of this fake boundary. I know that the boundary between the Zites and the Terrens must be removed if we are to ever reach our true pinnacle.

My mind swims with ways we could do this, but I know the first thing I must do. I extend my hand and Emmie helps me up, and we walk towards the door.

Sana Khwaja
Grade 11
Oshkosh North High School
Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Fatima's Struggle

What a beautiful day, flowers blooming, trees whistling from the wind, the sky looking as blue as the water from the lake. Walking home from school will be great with my brother today. As I waited for him at the school's front doors, a gust of wind almost blew my hijab, my head scarf, off my head. I quickly held onto it until the wind stopped blowing towards me.

"Assalam Walaikum, hey, what are you doing, Fatima?" questioned my brother Ahmed.

"Walaikum Assalam, hi, nothing, just had another rough day at school as usual," I said tiredly.

We walked home not knowing something terrible was about to happen. Three middle-aged men in a truck drove passed us and shouted, "Hey Terrorists! Go back to your country!"

Ahmed usually gets upset in this type of situation, but he impressively held back his anger. He was accustomed to this type of harassment and he no longer chose to express his emotions. We continued our walk towards home ignoring the incident. My mind was occupied by a more personal dilemma.

Soccer tryouts were coming soon. I needed to determine how I was going to handle wearing my head cover during the soccer season. As a Muslim woman, I wear the cover for modesty, an ideal characteristic of a woman in Islam. I would not be able to wear shorts and a t-shirt, which are part of the uniform, like most of the girls. I decided to wear pants and a long sleeve shirt.

After school the next day, the soccer tryouts were being held. I was nervous not only about the tryouts, but also about how the girls and the coaches would react to my appearance. I would only be standing out, wearing the complete opposite. As I walked into the gym, I felt the sudden stare come upon me.

"You're wearing pants, a long sleeve shirt, and a scarf on your head. Don't you think you're going to be hot? It's 80 degrees outside," a girl snobbishly said.

"I know I will, but I don't feel comfortable wearing shorts and a t-shirt," I proclaimed calmly.

If I told her the real reason why I covered, they wouldn't understand and would probably think that I am offending them. After she made that comment, all the girls started stretching in a circle before tryouts began without me. Their unwelcoming attitude alienated me.

Later, the soccer coaches divided the girls into four teams. Even though I had about eight years of experience, I knew they wouldn't think I was capable of playing. As they divided the girls, I realized I was one of the last picked along with girls that never played. Despite being picked last, I knew with my experience I would play well.

Within a matter of time, one of the coaches glanced over and gave me a provocative look. I knew what he was thinking. Many girls on the team didn't believe I could have talent in soccer, even though I was a great player. The coach approached me and pulled me aside.

"Fatima, it's going to be a tough season this year, and we can't deal with unique situations like yours. We have to deal with a lot of paperwork for you to play on the team with your headscarf. I think it's best if you do not try out. We decided not to have you on this team."

"But coach, you can't be serious, I have worked so hard!"

"Well, you can play, but only if you take off your head cover."

"I can't do that, this is part of my religion. I must wear it at all times."

"My decision is final. I don't want you on this team. Please leave, you're holding up the tryouts and creating a scene."

I could not speak. Though I have dealt with this treatment several times, I still could not bear the pain. I grabbed my bags and ran out of the gym crying.

When I reached home, Ahmed saw tears in my eyes and understood something was wrong. I told him what happened. He didn't seem surprised.

"Fatima, when you committed to the hijab, you knew you it would be a challenge. You are not only representing your race, but also your religion."

"I understand, but it seems like everyone is against me just because of how I look and what I choose to wear. It's hard, and I just don't want to deal with it."

"You need to be stronger, Fatima. Maybe you should take action and inform the authorities at school."

"I'm not sure if I can do this."

"Remember, we have to fight to be recognized as part of this community. This is the struggle that Allah has given you. Just have faith in Allah and everything will be alright."

The next morning, Ahmed and I went straight to the authorities at school and told them what happened. Over much deliberation, they decided to bring in the coaches to hear their perspective. The head coach did not deny his statements but felt that he was being reasonable, considering the team over me as an individual player.

Nevertheless, the authorities took my side and told the coach that they must allow me to try out for the team or they will be penalized for not holding up to the school's high moral standing. The coaches agreed and I was permitted to try out.

At the end of the meeting, we came out of the room and I gave my brother a big hug.

"I am proud of you, Fatima. You stood your ground and did not allow them to take control of you."

"Thank you Ahmed. You helped me realize I should not be afraid to show who I am, regardless of what everybody will think of me."

We both smiled gratefully, knowing that we succeeded in fighting against one reality we face everyday as Muslim Americans.

Kelly Long
Grade 9
Central High School of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Jason's Secret

It was a beautiful day when I woke up and started getting ready for school. I got up and got dressed like I normally did and I went to the bus stop so I could catch the bus with Abby and Jason, my two best friends. As I approached the bus stop I noticed only Jason was there. He came up to me and said, "Look Rob, there's something I've been wanting to tell you, but I'm not sure how you're going to react." "Yeah?" I say back. He replies, "Well you know Abby right, she's our best friend and we love her even though she told us she was a lesbian." I was starting to wonder where this was leading, but I replied anyway, "Yeah I remember we both got so mad when we found out because it meant that neither of us had a chance with her, what's your point." I really hope he doesn't think I'm gay, yeah ha ha that's! And at that very moment, Abby showed up and we just changed the topic.

The bus ride to school was quiet. Abby and Jason were quietly talking the entire ride while they left me to listen to my iPod. I got off the bus a stop early because I wanted to stop and get something to eat before I got to school. After my fast food breakfast, I went in school and found a note in my locker. It was from Jason and it said, "Hey man, there's something I really have to tell you. Meet me in the cafeteria during 3rd period, that's your lunch right? Well anyways, be there...Please?" I guess I really had no choice at all about meeting Jason, it was my lunch period and I had to be in the lunchroom, school rules. Oh well what's there to lose?

As soon as 3rd period came I walked into the lunchroom and went to get my bag of chips, but I couldn't even do that, Jason had spotted me and was quickly walking towards me. "Hey Rob, what's up?" "Nothing much." I replied. "Okay, well I'm just gonna get straight to the point of why I asked you to meet me here," blurted out Jason. "Yeah?" "I don't really know how to say this but oh well here it goes: Rob...I'm Gay." he said awkwardly. "YOU'RE WHAT?!?" I yelled. He tried calming me down, "Calm down Rob, I don't want everyone to know yet, so far it's only you and Abby that know." "YOU TOLD ABBY BEFORE YOU TOLD ME?!?" "Well, considering she's also homosexual, I thought I could use her help in telling you about it, but I guess this just isn't the same as Abby telling us she was a lesbian now is it?" he said smartly. "THIS IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! ABBY IS HOT, AND LESBIANS ARE HOT, YOU KNOW THAT! BUT YOU BEING GAY, GUYS BEING GAY, THAT'S JUST WRONG! GET AWAY FROM ME YOU GAY HOMO!" My voice was filled with rage and hatred as I screamed my last remark. Everyone in the lunchroom stared as I stormed out of the lunchroom. Too bad Jason's little secret was now going to be spread around the school.

Later on that day, I was walking to my 5th period class when I thought about Jason and how I had betrayed his secret, and how I would have to face him in 5th period. I dreaded talking to him, but since he was my lab partner, I had no choice. I walked in and sat down, Jason had his face in a book. When the teacher told him to close the book, he did, and then he looked at me and gave me a look of disgrace. The left side of his face was swollen and black and blue from what looked like a punch. It was then that I had really realized what I had done to Jason. Not only had I told everyone his secret, I had betrayed him as a friend also.

All throughout class, there were many whispered remarks about Jason that were made, and Jason's face was just filled with sadness. People stared and giggled the entire period and when the bell rang; Jason grabbed his stuff and was soon out the door. "Yo, Jason! Wait up." He stopped and waited for me. "This is why I didn't want everyone to know yet," he said angrily. "Dude, I'm sorry you gotta let me make this up to you. I'll do anything I never meant for this to happen, it was just too much for me to handle." I said sorrowfully. He replied, "You're on the football and wrestling teams, get them to stop messing with me. They're the biggest problems, they all come at me at once and it's hard to fight back, I've been thrown into trashcans and beaten up as you can see. Just do me that, and accept me for who I am. That's all I want." "Sure man, I really am sorry, it's just that when you told me, I was afraid that...that you were hinting that you...liked me. But I will get the guys off your back trust me."

We separated and decided to meet up after my football practice. I talked to the guys and they gave me a hard time but eventually agreed once I agreed to go out to the mall on a Saturday wearing a pink dress and a tutu. But the embarrassment was worth it. After that Saturday, everything was just the same as it once was. And it turned out that Jason didn't like me....thank god. But in fact, he actually had a crush on Abby's older brother who was also gay. And it wasn't like he talked about guys all of the time, he was just the same old Jason, and I was just the same old Rob, only I learned to accept people for who they really are.

Mitchell McCann
Grade 9
Central High School of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Bill Smith lived with his family in a well-maintained single home in a large city. Bill's family included Bill, his mom, his dad, and two brothers. Bill loved his home and his neighborhood. Everyone knew everyone else. People said hello when they passed each other on the street and often stopped to talk and share some gossip. If someone's dog escaped from a yard or dashed out a front door, neighbors could be counted on to return the dog to its proper home when they saw it wandering the streets.

Bill's best friend, Joe Anderson, lived three doors away from Bill. They had gone all through grade school together and had been planning on attending the same high school. "The twins", everyone called them, because they were always together. The summer after graduating from eighth grade the boys got some terribly devastating news. The Andersons were moving! Bill and Joe would not be graduating from high school together.

The Anderson's home went up for sale. A sign was placed on their lawn, right next to their driveway. Joe's house sold quickly. It was the end of July and Bill and Joe had to say good-bye. They exchanged addresses and phone numbers. They promised to keep in touch. All the neighbors came out to say good-bye to the Andersons. Bill and Joe shook hands. They were too sad to talk.

"They're good people moving in; give them a chance," Bill over heard Mr. Anderson saying to his own dad. "Make them feel welcome, okay, Ted?" Ted was Bill's dad.

"You know I will, Jim. You know we all will. This is a welcoming community." was Mr. Smith's response. "You guys just concern yourselves with getting to your new home and getting moved in. Don't worry about us! We won't let you down!" The moving truck pulled out, with the Andersons following in their black SUV. It was a Saturday. Bill went home and locked himself in his room for the rest of the weekend.

Monday came and with it the new neighbors! Everyone on Bill's street was excited to meet their new neighbors! Bill hoped they had a boy his age. Of course, no one could ever replace Joe, but Bill was hopeful about making a new friend. Bill stood outside on his lawn. His mom and dad had left for work already. Bill noticed some other neighbors also came outside to observe the new neighbors. Movers were unloading the truck. People went in and out. Bill could not tell who the new neighbors were. Were they here yet? He watched and waited. Bill lay under the tree on his lawn and kept watch. Finally, the movers pulled away. The owners must be the only people left in the house. Tired, hungry and feeling a little shy, Bill went into his own home and had some lunch.

Bill's mom worked part-time as a cashier at a nearby drug store; a few hours in the morning only three days a week. Bill's dad would be home at five p.m. Mrs. Smith walked in the door at one p.m. She was anxious and talking to her husband on her cell phone. Bill couldn't understand the problem; it was something about the new neighbors. Bill listened closely to what was being said, but couldn't quite figure it out. Bill's dad came in at the regular time. Ted Smith sat and spoke, "We've all seen the new neighbors. What's been done is done--the Andersons sold us out. We don't want any trouble here, so just stay away from them. We do not associate with black people. This neighborhood is ruined."

Bill was stunned. He didn't know what to say. He'd never heard his father speak this way before. "But, Dad," Bill spoke up, "I think they have a boy my age! I wanted to meet them."

Bill's dad shouted, "They are not our type because they are not our race. Just stay away."

Summer ended. Bill started high school. The new kid was in a few of his classes. Bill found out his name was Mike. A couple of times Mike tried to converse with Bill, but Bill, as his dad ordered, ignored the kid. Bill felt terrible. The look of hurt on the boy's face was hard to live with.

One night, Mr. Smith was smoking in bed and fell asleep. Bill, in his room with the door shut, woke up to shouting and the smell of something burning. Bill felt his bedroom door. It was hot. Terrified, he looked out his bedroom window. He could see the street outside. His parents and neighbors were out there. They were screaming his name. In the distance, Bill heard sirens. Suddenly, Bill saw his new neighbors running up under his window. The dad held a thick comforter. The mom and son began unfolding it. Other neighbors ran over to help.

"Jump, Bill!" Everyone yelled. Bill jumped. He landed on the thick, soft comforter as the fire engine pulled up. His family gathered around him. They hugged and cried; relieved everyone had gotten out safely.

Bill's mom walked over to the new neighbors. "We can't ever thank you enough. How could we ever repay you? You have done a great thing for people who have treated you just horribly. I'm ashamed of how we've been acting. Why did you do it, after the way we've treated you?

The woman spoke, "My husband and I decided long ago that we are not responsible for the evil others do. We are only responsible for the evil, or good, we do in this world ourselves. We aim to fill the world with love and kindness."

The African-Americans were the Thompson family. The Smiths and the Thompsons became good friends. Bill's dad never spoke a racist word again. He was often heard repeating the story of the fire and it always ended with Ted saying how the Thompsons taught him the true meaning of love.

Hanna Lee Stevenson
Grade 11
Oshkosh North High School
Oshkosh, Wisconsin

When I'm Ready

Since the time I was young, I was a cheerleader. Lessons were always my top priority throughout high school when I cheered on varsity. I was addicted to it, the crowd applauding and screaming just to watch us perform at halftime during the football game. The rush I got, seeing all our weeks of hard work and practices jammed into two and a half minutes of pure adrenaline, it was all or nothing.

When Sandy Somers, the cheer coach at the University of Georgia, approached me after a competition, I got weak at the knees. She told me if I got accepted at the University and tried-out for cheerleading, I would have a good chance at making the varsity team, which was a huge honor being a freshman. When I attended the University of Georgia I concentrated on perfecting the try-out routine and I nailed it. As the only freshman on the varsity team I felt like an outsider looking in, but I soon made friends on the team. We practiced everyday except for Sunday, which our coach left open for church. I was so disappointed for I no longer could attend temple on Saturdays. I took Sunday as a nice break though.

The coach and team were great. As the pre-season progressed, we all got so close and hung out constantly. As we learned more and more about each other, the girls were shocked to know that I was the only one who did not practice Catholicism.

I asked, "Why are you guys so surprised?"

"Katlin, just trust us, you do not want Coach Sandy to find out," they warned me. The team was supportive of my religion, but they said that Coach Sandy would not understand since she was a devout Catholic and believed the team needed consistency with characteristics, and that included religion.

I was so puzzled as to why they wanted me to keep my religion a secret.

Everything became clear one day right before the first half-time performance of the season.

"OK girls, bring it in," Coach said. "I know you all have worked very hard to make this a success, but let's say a little prayer to the Lord to ensure our health and well-being for the performance." I was completely taken aback. Because of my Jewish faith, praying with the group did not sit comfortably with me, but I took hands with my teammates and half-heartedly participated. After it was all said and done, my heart was racing. A dilemma was occurring in my mind. Should I tell Coach that I'm Jewish? A little voice in my head screamed not to because I was new to the team and I just wanted to please the coach.

As the season progressed, more religious things were occurring. The praying continued on a regular basis. Coach also hosted mandatory Bible studies at her home on Sundays. I felt horrible every time I attended. I was betraying my faith and not being who I truly was. I hadn't attended temple in weeks. Finally all my pent up emotions caught up to me and I had to reveal who I truly was.

My palms were cold and clammy as I slowly walked to the coach's office after practice.

"Coach," was all I managed to squeak out. Coach Sandy saw the distress on my face, came around from behind the desk and wrapped her arms around me. I suddenly spurted out, "I'm Jewish." Her arms quickly dropped and she backed away as if she had been hugging a cockroach. "I'm Jewish," I repeated, "and I don't exactly feel comfortable at your Bible studies, or not being able to attend temple because of Saturday practices."

"Well that's all right, you don't have to attend," Coach said with a sly smile. I thanked her for her understanding, and walked out with a feeling as if a huge weight had been lifted off my chest.

I called my teammate Chelsea and told her what I had done.

"Oh you're in for it now," she said. I could not understand why me being Jewish was such a big deal.

At the next practice, Coach hardly looked at me let alone talked to me. I felt like an infectious disease. My teammates acted differently towards me as well. Even the upcoming routine formation was changed so I was in the back. When changing in the locker room migrated to the other side leaving me by myself, I felt so isolated and alone. My once supportive teammates had betrayed me and left me to fend for myself for they did not want to upset Coach by associating with me. All my hard work and dedication for the sport felt wasted and cheering no longer had the thrill and shining appeal it once had.

One day, as the season was trickling to an end, Coach Sandy came up to me and flatly said, "Your cheering skills will no longer be needed. You've missed too many practices and it isn't fair for the rest of the team. Please turn in your uniform and clean out your locker by the end of the day." I was outraged and heartbroken. My dream college and sport had turned into a dark nightmare.

I could not just stand by and let this woman get away with her kicking me off the team because of something completely irrelevant to the sport. When I consulted the Athletic Director and Chancellor, they decided that discrimination was completely out of line and took drastic action by firing Coach Sandy.

After my freshman year I transferred to the University of Florida where I currently am attending. I had a fresh start. There I am accepted for who I am and just trying to put this bad chapter of my life behind me. Although I have not tried out for the cheer team, I eventually will, when I'm ready.

Read the High School 1st and 2nd Place Essays

Middle School Division Honorable Mention

Stephan A Cornell
Grade 5
Roosevelt School
Oshkosh, Wisconsin

The New Kid

This movie takes place in a school with two gangs, African American and Caucasian. Both gangs would kill if they could. Until one day, a new kid arrived...

It was just after Christmas break. The town had gotten at least ten inches of snow, and the gangs were having a snowball fight at school. People were vicious. They were putting chunks of ice in the snow balls. Many people were down lying in the snow.

"Uhhh! I'm, going down!" said one of the whites.

The next day a new kid arrived. He was sort of tall and Asian. No one knew which side he would be on. So they asked him.

He said, "I don't want to be on any side. I like black people and white people. We're all the same. We just look different."

Everyone started to laugh and throw snowballs. But there were some people who thought that he was right.

The people who thought he was right from the start told their friends. Then they told their friends. Eventually lots of people thought he was right. Until there were only two people left, the white gang leader, Paul, and the black gang leader, Jerome. They just wouldn't stop fighting.

The other kids had a plan to get the gang leaders together. Tomorrow was the new kid's birthday, so he would invite the gang leaders and some of their friends. The plan was to play games they both like, have a good time, and then realize that they aren't so different.

In the beginning, each gang leader kept saying, "What is he doing here!?!" But, eventually, all that stopped once they were playing video games, watching movies, and playing with the presents.

Now Paul and Jerome are friends, and there is no more racism at their school. Now everyone tries to prevent racism at their school.

Ben Davidovich
Grade 6
Scotts Ridge Middle School
Ridgefield, Connecticut

Delray, the Firehouse Dog

Delray, the Golden Retriever, who lives in New York City, wants to become a firehouse dog. The problem is that everyone teases Delray for wanting to be a fire house dog and no one will take him seriously. Even his brothers Bobby and Jordan make fun of him. Even though Delray feels sad and embarrassed he still wants to be a fire dog. He lays in his home under a shady tree in Central Park, and dreams. He hears of firehouse dogs that are heroes because they save people. Delray wants to become a hero too! Each day when the firemen pass by his home, he follows them to the firehouse. He is always amazed at the size of the fire trucks and the clothes that the fire men wear. But each time the firemen send Delray away.

After about the hundredth time that he shows up at the firehouse, the firemen finally give in and let Delray stay. Alexander and Phillip are the other fire dogs at the firehouse, and they are both Dalmatians. When Delray tells them he is going to be a fire dog, Alexander and Phillip laugh and tease him. They have never seen any dog but Dalmatians become fire dogs, so they tell Delray that he can never be a fire dog and that they're a lot better than him.

This makes Delray really miss his home in Central Park. He doesn't understand why different dogs, not just Dalmatians, can't be fire dogs. Does the kind of dog you are really matter? He feels different and like he doesn't fit into the world. Delray is very sad, but he doesn't give up. He has wanted to be a fire dog for so long and he is going to do his best!

The firemen won't give him real training like the Dalmatian fire dogs, but Delray is a quick learner. By watching and listening he learns what to do. But even though he can do all the exercises he has not won the respect or acceptance of Alexander and Phillip.

Delray becomes used to the loud alarms in the fire station that mean someone is in trouble. Each time the firemen come running down the hallway outside of the dog's room. They call for Alexander and Phillip as they run by. They do not call for Delray. After the fire is put out, Alexander and Phillip return to the firehouse. They always brag and gloat about how wonderful they are. They tell Delray how they save people. Delray's feelings are hurt because he is never chosen to go.

Then one day the fire alarm sounds for a very long time. This time it is a very big fire at a very big school. The firemen run by the dog's room and shout "Come on guys!," without calling Alexander and Phillip by name. Delray gets really excited and follows the other dogs. He's finally going to ride in the fire truck like he's always dreamed of! Alexander and Phillip are angry and plan how to keep Delray from doing anything important. When the fire trucks get to the school, Alexander and Phillip tell Delray to stay and guard the truck. Delray does what he is told. As always Alexander and Phillip do a lot of the work helping get people out of the building and helping put out the fire. Everything seems to go smoothly until the firemen notice a child crying from one of the top floor windows. It was too dangerous for the firemen to go up there so they yell for the dogs. Alexander and Phillip are scared and they are just looking at each other without moving. But Delray doesn't hesitate. Delray rushes straight into the burning building, up the staircase, and guides the little boy outside to safety!

Everyone cheers, even Alexander and Phillip! They finally see that a Golden Retriever can be as good as they are. It doesn't matter what someone looks like on the outside of their body. It's what is on the inside of their body that counts. Delray is a brave dog and a good fire dog. This is the important lesson that Alexander and Phillip learn that day.

When everyone gets back to the firehouse they celebrate and congratulate Delray. Delray has shown everyone that even a Golden can be a great fire dog!

Sam Geier
Grade 6
East Shore Middle School
Milford, Connecticut

The Bullanator 2500

Today started out like most other Sundays. I woke up earlier than usual and tossed and turned trying to get back to sleep. It didn't take me long to remember why I was so fidgety. I had waited almost a year for this day to come. It started out as a school project, but everyone liked my ideas. So here I was, about to have a new video game released that I was responsible for creating.

This video game is in hot demand, but it is very different from most of the games kids are playing these days. As you know there are not many games that are good for your children. So I've created a video game called The Bullanator 2500. In this video game, it is the year 2500. School violence has been on the rise. To help reduce the amount of bullying, robots have been placed in every school. The violence, sexual content, and use of bad words in the school have gotten out of control. In my game, the robots, which are called the Bullanator 2500's start out gaining control in the school. If you succeed and get to the next level, your robot can go into different parts of society to help stop prejudice, discrimination, and bullying in communities, states and eventually the world. The goal is to help make the world a much more tolerant place.

Here is how my computer game is different from most you are familiar with. My game is an online, interactive game. This game allows you to get to higher levels. It also makes you want to do good deeds in real life that can be entered online, reviewed, and if accepted you earn more credits. That's how you get things that are called life points. You go out in the world and try to stop bullying, discrimination, and prejudice in the act. Then what you do is go logon to this game's account and type in what you did and the committee will decide if what you did was good or what you did doesn't deserve any life points. The goal of this game is to earn the most points. The cool thing is the game never has to end. You just keep working harder to gain the most points.

Games don't need all the violence and sexual content that's there today. In the game I've just created, you only see the threat of violence. The player stops that threat before anything can happen. My game does not need all of that crime. I already have great adventure and lots of lessons to be learned. In other games, the solution to teaching lessons is violence and aggressive beating these days. The reason all the people in the world act aggressive is because its either they watch TV shows, movies, or video games that indicate action, sexual content, and other abuse. Actually, one of the neighborhoods I lived in was very bad. The school and town violence were OUT OF CONTROL. That's another reason I got the idea of The Bullanator 2500.

Do you ever get worried about your kids and their so called girlfriends and boyfriends? Well, that's another reason video games are bad for your kids. There is way too much exposure of women and men, so your children feel it's all right to do these things. It is extremely inappropriate for your children to know about all of the love life. Your children shouldn't know about these things till parents think the time is right. Also, in my game, there are no signs of sexual contact or exposure of human beings. People respect one another and try to always do the right thing.

Many parents were wondering about the massive amounts of swearing that seem to be heard in most other video games. In my game, there's not even one swear. The Bullanators are always there quickly enough to avoid any slips.

I am hoping my game will be successful. If it is, I believe it can really make a difference in school behaviors and, hopefully, will eventually spread to outside of school. I have seen many video games get released and when kids like one, they never stop talking about it. If that happens with my game, people will always be talking about doing good things. I hope that will eventually help people get into good habits of being kind and respectful to each other.

Kailin Jones
Grade 6
International School of Beijing
Beijing, China

I looked back to something I would never see again. I thought about all the memories I had in it. I was born there, I said my first words there and I took my first steps there. Now I have to leave it and move on.

Why did my parents go on that overnight ferry trip to Shanghai? If they hadn't they'd still be here.

I looked through all my mother's fine silk embroideries, pearls, coral beads and dad's calligraphies, paintings, and jades just to find the few perfect things that I could bring. Sadly, all the other things would have to be given to my greedy first uncle. That is because he is the oldest male remaining in the Tang family.

I was disappointed when I found that the cushions on the palanquin were soiled. I yelled at the bearer to clean or find me another cushion for I would not be sitting on a soiled cushion. The bearer hastily went into the mansion to find another cushion. I waited for too long, got too impatient and walked into the mansion and started yelling for him. He hurried back with a lumpy cushion but I was so angry that I didn't bother about it; after this disgrace I did not want to talk to him or even look at him. If any one of our servants behaved like this they would be dismissed immediately. Everything had to be done in perfection for me.

When I finally got to my second uncle's house, I realized that my uncle's house had only four servants when there were five children not even one for each child. In my family there was only me and we had fifteen servants. Their courtyard house had only one simple, broken down courtyard. My courtyard house had four magnificent courtyards with gardens and small ponds with golden carp swimming in them. I knew for sure I wouldn't have a good life here. I can't believe my mother and father had left me with them!

I saw my uncle, who wore ragged clothes. He seemed unconcerned about them. I wanted to give a good impression so I bowed and said my thanks for taking the job of taking care of me.

When I settled into my room, a little dirty girl came up to me. I smiled a little, when she asked to be my friend. Something in me wanted to say yes, but the normal me just went on going "you want to be friends with that girl? How grimy and stained can she get?" This time the normal me took over and I refused. When I saw the look on the little girl's face, I felt guilty.

At dinner I saw the girl again. I found out she was my cousin. I didn't want to seem too mean so I went up to the girl and said that I would be her friend. She got all excited and took me to their "garden". It was small but pleasant. There I saw beautiful flowers.

The girl started to dig with her bare hands. I found that revolting. I just sat staring at her having fun, I was not going to put my hands into that filth. I watched her planting for day after day. I was looking forward to watching her tend her garden. Sensing how much she enjoyed planting, I finally decided to dig with her. I enjoyed the feeling of the earth in my hands and asked if I could plant something too. She brought me a seed and taught me how to plant it.

That night I also became one of them: all dirty, muddy and smelly, but somehow it all seemed better than my old life. I liked my new life with my new friend. Here my uncle tried his best to treat me like a daughter and I tried my best to treat him like a father.

When my plant started to bud, I was thrilled and proud that I had cared for something as well as that I had brought something to life. I felt strong and healthy. I felt that I had the ability to do things myself. I felt alive.

My old life was filled with luxury yet also filled with unhappiness. People took care of my every need, while I did not learn to do anything for myself. Now I have learned not to judge a person by their wealth or appearance, but by their heart and soul. Being rich can only buy you a lifestyle but not a life.

Mariska Loudella
Grade 6
International School of Beijing
Beijing, China

Stereotyping and Prejudice: Akeelah and the Bee

Every time we see good movies, we do not always realize that we are seeing and learning about stereotyping and prejudice in them. We normally try to see the good part of the lesson, for example, the movie Akeelah and the Bee.

From Akeelah Anderson's experience in the movie, we learned that practice and hard work will really lead to success. However, there are stereotyping and prejudice there, too. As an African American girl, Akeelah was described as poor, came from a single parent family, her Dad died, her brother joined a local teen gang, her Mother was busy and she didn't care much about her. So, Akeelah was falling behind in her school work. The school she attended was not a good school, where most children, who were mostly African American, did not care about trying their best. This was shown when they did not really care much about the school's spelling bee. Although the movie in the end shows that Akeelah won the National Spelling Bee, as a result of her hard work and with coaching from Dr. Larabee, it would be better not to stereotype the other kids in the school. I do not agree about showing that the poor kids did not aim for high achievement. This would not be a positive encouragement for the poor or the African Americans' kids and would hurt their feelings. I would change that part of the movie to show that, although the other kids are not as good as Akeelah, they are still trying their best.

On the other side, Dylan Chiu, an American Chinese boy, was having very high pressure from his Dad to study the spelling words. Even during the competition, it was shown that the father was upset when Dylan did not spell right. It is true that many Asian children work hard on their studies, but I do not see the reason to stereotype them, that the parents force them to do so. I would change the part about Dylan Chiu, to show that he has a father who gave him all the support and the encouragement to study. I would not show that Dylan's father was upset when Dylan did not spell right. He should look wise, he could be anxious, but not upset.

We should use this movie to provide positive influence to change our natural tendency of stereotyping people or having bias about others, and being prejudiced about their way of life. I live in China and have many Chinese or Asian friends. Most of them like to work their best, but they also play and have fun. They have supportive parents and their parents are not as described in the movie Akeelah and the Bee.

In the end, I would still recommend the movie Akeelah and the Bee to be watched, since there is still a good lesson to learn, that with hard work and practice, regardless of our background, we can be successful. I would just change the parts that show prejudice towards African American or Asian children as mentioned above.

Eugenia Neri
Grade 8
Greenwich, Connecticut

Full House

The fun-loving, funny, popular Full House is a TV show watched by many fans. This TV series is about a family of three girls--DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle--being raised without a mother. They are taken care of by their father, Danny, his best friend Joey, their uncle, Jesse, his wife, Becky, and their two kids, Nicky and Alex. Even though they are going through life without an irreplaceable person--their mother--the girls love their family just the way it is. This commonly watched series teaches lessons about life to children, and entertains viewers of all ages.

This popular show could be totally rearranged to teach children all over the world about racism and prejudice. All of the main characters in Full House are Caucasian. This set-up should be changed to teach viewers that no matter what skin color you are, everyone is the same. For example, there is one episode in this series where DJ, the oldest sister, is having some "love trouble" where she cannot decide between two Caucasian guys, Nelson and Viper. She knows that Nelson will always be there for her, and will always support her. She also knows that Viper is an amazing guy with incredible talent on the guitar and that, with him, she always has a fun time. The pressure becomes too great for DJ. She is too doubtful about who to chose, so instead of choosing either one, she doesn't pick one at all.

This episode could be changed, by making one of the two boys, either Nelson or Viper, African-American. DJ would give both guys an equal chance to win her heart.

She would ponder about her decision carefully and choose the man who makes her the most content. DJ would decide to go out with the character who is African-American because of his personality. This will show fans that skin color does not matter. Since every episode has a moral, kids will grasp the idea more easily. They will learn that the moral of this episode was to give everyone an equal chance--treat everyone fairly--and not to judge someone due to how the person looks. This TV show would show children of all ages--in an entertaining way that will catch viewer's attention--that to be racist and prejudiced is wrong, and that one's personality is what matters.

Margery Tong
Grade 6
International School of Beijing
Beijing, China

A Light in the School

The text below is merely a plot summary about a movie regarding prejudice in schools, and not a short story.

Bombardier School is notorious for its aggressive students and unwelcoming attitude. In addition to that, there is one group that practically ruined the school's reputation--not out of knowing evil, but out of complete ignorance. Amy, Meg, and Faye are the "Masterminds of Discrimination".

It is a sunny day, and the girls are huddled up, gossiping. They don't notice that there is another girl in the background, eavesdropping. It is Sarah, one of the hopefuls to join the "secret society", which offers popularity and social fame. Sarah leans in closer as the girls start to talk about the new student, Paige.

Amy starts the conversation, complaining about how difficult it is to understand what Paige is trying to say, as she has a strong, foreign accent. Faye cuts in and comments that Paige looks ugly bespectacled. Meg giggles and warns her friends not to get close to Paige because she is so "weird".

Sarah is confused. She doesn't think Paige is that bad, but she really wants to join the "secret society", so she approaches the girls. At first the girls just laugh, but they finally realize that she is serious. After giving her a quick once-over, Amy approves her, but on one condition: She has to "prove" herself. Sarah is excited, but she asks Amy to clarify what "proving herself" meant. Amy flicks her hair over her shoulder and tells her that she must avoid Paige and not accept her. Sarah hastily agrees.

Some time later, in math class, Paige is having trouble understanding what the Pythagorean Theorem is, so she asks Sarah. Sarah forgets Amy's warning, and explains the concept to Paige.

At lunchtime, Paige is left out and wants to sit with Sarah. Sarah agrees to have her at the table, but Meg tells Paige that she is not allowed to sit with them. Paige leaves sadly. Faye asks Sarah how she knows Paige, and Sarah replies casually that she was helping Paige during math class. The girls look horrified, and Amy dismisses her from the group. Sarah is shocked.

Desperately wanting to be readmitted, Sarah decides to act nastily to Paige. She ignores Paige when she is confused and makes sure she is not in her math project group. After a few weeks of this effort, Amy approaches Sarah and tells her that she is now readmitted into the group. Sarah is delighted and continues her warpath against Paige.

One day, Paige's teacher Mrs. Rogers requests to speak to Sarah. Sarah goes to see Mrs. Rogers, and Mrs. Rogers reprimands her for "hurting Paige's feelings" and for "being exclusive". Sarah tells her that the girls would exclude her if she didn't act that way. Mrs. Rogers tells Sarah that the girls are ignorant and do not know how their prejudice hurts Paige.

Sarah is still adamant, and Mrs. Rogers asks her if she knows about the Holocaust. Sarah nods, but she doesn't see the relation between the Holocaust and Paige. Mrs. Rogers continues that Hitler was prejudiced against the Jews and that led to a lot of suffering that impacted the whole world. Sarah thinks of how awful it would be if she grew up in a concentration camp, and suddenly realizes how bad she is treating Paige.

On the way back to class, Sarah bumps into Paige. She immediately apologizes, and Paige accepts the apology. They talk briefly about how to stop the prejudice in their school. Sarah quits her position in the "secret society" and starts a new club of her own. It is a club against prejudice and discrimination. Sarah and Paige are the only members, so they work hard to create brochures, posters, and newsletters about how prejudice affects society. One of their real life stories is about Paige.

About a month later, Sarah is on the podium during assembly, delivering a zealous and optimistic speech. Paige is standing next to her, entranced by her passionate words. The entire student body is moved. In the back corner sit Amy, Meg, and Faye. Amy sits with a blank look on her face while Meg and Faye silently ponder the issue.

When the girls cross Sarah and Paige in the cafeteria in the afternoon, they utter a friendly "hello". Paige is surprised, but returns the greeting. Sarah merely smiles understandingly, sensing that there is hope in her crusade.

Anthony Zhang
Grade 6
International School of Beijing
Beijing, China

The Cafeteria Lady

The beginning of the movie starts in Manhattan. A sixth grade class of Lucky Oak Junior High settles down to listen to the daily announcements. "May I have your attention please. This is your new principal Mr. Raven speaking. The school board is excited to announce that our school will sign a contract with Fosaser, a cafeteria managing company. More information on that in the monthly assembly today. Thank you for listening. BEEP!"

"Now, class go work on your prejudice projects, and remember, the deadline is December 8th," said Ms. Lewis. All the students work until the bell rings.

At the assembly Mr. Raven speaks inaudible words to a man on stage. "Fosaser has eagerly agreed to give us a presentation for their services."

"Hello, my name is Jonas Chou, and I'm the manager of Fosaser. Let me explain what Fosaser is all about. We're dedicated to making your cafeteria a better place with better food, service, and atmosphere. Every one of you will receive an electric card that stores money. There will also be a smoothie bar...."

It is lunchtime. Anthony, Jeffrey, Justine, and Nicole see that the cafeteria lady is upset.

"Mrs. Snickelgrubber looks upset. Let's go see what's the matter." says Nicole. "Mrs. Snickelgrubber, what's the matter?" asks Justine.

"Oh, Justine, something terrible has happened!"

"What is it?" pipes up Jeffrey.

"It's Fosaser. They interviewed every cafeteria employee, and its Fosaser's policy that employees over 60 cannot work for them, and even though the school will give me a good pension, life will be awfully dull without you kids."

"What's your age Mrs. S.?" asks Nicole.

"I'll be 66 next year. Fosaser admits I can do the job, but they said I'm too old. What do they mean I'm too old?" Mrs. S. says.

"That's against everything we've learned in Humanities! It's ageism!" cries Anthony. "Don't worry Mrs. S., we'll find a way to get you out of this,"

"Thank you kids," sniffles Mrs. Snickelgrubber.

The word spreads quickly and soon there are many protestors. In the playground after school, the protestors meet.

"We are all here because of one thing. We know that ageism is wrong, and we want to stop Fosaser's prejudiced policy. In order to save Mrs. S., we need to start a campaign...." says Anthony.

Monday through Wednesday, the protestors stuck up posters and wore T-shirts saying "Yes yes for Mrs. S.". The final step was the march and speech during break time. As the students entered the office, Herbert read the speech, "We've learned about prejudice all quarter long, and how you support it? How could you say one thing and do the other?"

"It's not our policy, its Fosaser's," says Mr. Raven.

"But you agreed to it," says Herbert.

"Now kids, I know how much you care about her, but we can't abandon a contract because of her. We've promised her a pension, she'll have a good life."

"Mr. Raven, you don't understand, she's been here since my parents were in this school, and she offered advice to them just as she offers advice to us. She's part of our school's history!"

"Yeah, my mom remembers her!" said Marie.

"I'll have a meeting with the board and reconsider Fosaser's offer," says Mr. Raven.

After school, the students decide that they should get the parents involved too. Anthony, whose dad works for a TV station, gets it to interview the principal.

"Schools love publicity, but if we make it seem like Fosaser is making the school have a bad reputation, they'll have to abandon the contract," says Anthony.

The next day, groups of reporters crowd around the entrance of the school. The principal has a worried expression on his face.

"Mr. Raven, is it true that you left a 65 year old lady in the streets?"

"What do you mean? We gave--"

"And only because of her age? How could you be so prejudiced?"

"Okay, I admit I was wrong, and I have learned something new today. I won't agree to contracts with prejudice in them."

The last scene features Mr. Raven holding a quick assembly with the students and the protestor's parents.

"Students, I have learned something today about prejudice, and now I know that the age of a cafeteria lady doesn't matter, it's if she can do the job, and is willing to. Mrs. S. can do both. I would like her to come up and let's start a cheer for her! Hip hip hurray!"

Read the Middle School 1st and 2nd Place Essays