The 2013-2014 Middle School Essay Contest Winners:
1st and 2nd Place and Honorable Mention

First Place

Maya Alhusein
Grade 8
West Hills Middle School
West Bloomfield, Michigan

Gay Is Okay

According to recent gay bullying statistics, gay and lesbian teens are two to three times as likely to commit suicide as other teens because of bullying. This is a major problem because teenagers should not end their life just because of the cruel opinions their peers think about their sexual orientation. The movie that I would create to decrease discrimination against people's sexual orientation would be called, "Gay Is Okay."

"Gay Is Okay" would be a twist on a Disney princess movie. Most Disney princess movies have the exact same story of a boy and a girl falling in love and living happily ever after. There is no children's Disney princess movie of two boys falling in love, so I would make a movie about a prince falling in love with a commoner. The movie would be a children's cartoon. The prince would be named Peter Martin and the setting would take place in New York City. The other main character would be Kyle Pruett, who is the guy Peter falls in love with and Peter's parents.

The movie would start off with Peter inside of his parents' castle in New York, where his parents are trying to find Peter a princess to marry. Peter had denied all of the girls that his parents were showing him and his parents were getting frustrated. Peter decided to leave the castle and go for a walk to the nearest coffee shop. While he was at the coffee shop, he saw a spiffy young man named Kyle Pruett who was working as a barista. Kyle had asked what Peter wanted to order, and Peter asked for a simple cup of coffee. He came back with Peter's order but unfortunately slipped and spilled all of Peter's coffee on his shirt. Kyle apologized over a million times and Peter said not to worry about it. After that, Kyle and Peter talked for over three hours straight, ultimately exchanging numbers. Peter headed back to his castle right as the sun set, but his parents were deeply concerned about his whereabouts. He was just about to go to bed in his large comfy bed but then he got a phone call from Kyle who had asked him out on a lunch date. Peter agreed to the plans in a second and he was wondering what his parents would think about him liking a boy. The next day, Peter got ready for his lunch date and his parents were concerned. They asked him where he was going but he replied saying he was going to lunch with his new friend, Kyle. After, Peter brought Kyle back to the castle to meet his parents. Peter's parents could tell that Kyle and Peter had a strong connection. They were discussing privately whether they thought that their son had true feelings for this normal city boy and if their son was gay. After Kyle had left the castle, Peter's parents had a private meeting with their son and they started to talk about finding a woman for Peter to marry. Peter felt a little tear roll down his cheek and his parents were confused. He burst out screaming that he was gay and he was tired of pretending to like girls. Peter's mom comforted him and asked him if he liked Kyle. Peter answered, "Yes. More than anything in the world." Eventually, Peter and Kyle dated and two years later, Kyle popped the question. They soon got engaged and the whole city threw a party for the two princes and Peter's parents accepted his sexual orientation.

This movie would help the audience gain an understanding and respect for people's sexual orientation by educating the audience that gay people are just like us. Hopefully, my movie will knock down negative stereotypes and have people gain knowledge about gay people. All anybody needs is acceptance and understanding. Educating kids at an early age would help fight all the negativity and hate that gay people receive.

About 39% of people say that at some point in their lives a family member or close friend rejected them because of their sexual orientation. This is a major problem because a person's sexual orientation shouldn't make their loved ones reject them. I hope that people who are anti-gay watch my movie and stop discriminating gay people. If you are gay or lesbian, I hope you have a love story like Peter and Kyle.

Second Place

Andrea Ochoa
Grade 8
Palmdale Learning Plaza
Palmdale, California

Flight of the Male Gymnast

It was a sunny day in August when sophomore John Terra decided to sign up for tryouts. Not basketball or football, no. He signed up for gymnastics, something that most teen boys looked down on. John didn't care that it was mainly for girls, he wanted to do what he loved.

John made his way to the gym after school the day of tryouts, which was uneventful. He took a deep breath and walked in. As expected, there were no other boys there.

Anne, the team captain, went up to him and said, jokingly, "If you're here to gawk, then leave."

"I happen to be here to try out, actually," John answered.

Anne looked slightly shocked, but only for a second. She smiled and said, "No way. What exactly are you gonna do?" she asked. He nodded towards the horizontal bar, a very difficult task in gymnastics. Anne whistled, "Whoa, you sure you can handle that?" she asked.

"If I have the courage to try out for a team with no guys, I have the courage to do the horizontal bar. Besides, I took gymnastics when I was younger. I wanna start up again."

He started off on a high note. John made the team and a week later, had his first practice. Some time passed while he and his team prepared for the first competition of the year.

John was nervous about the competition. That was when his friends and family would finally know about his being in gymnastics. Anne openly supported him and became John's friend; the only one he knew wouldn't judge him.

The team won the meet and was in high spirits at school the following Monday. John's spirit however, was about to be shot down.

Some boy went up to him and said "Hey Jo- oh I'm sorry ma'am; I thought you were a dude but I guess I was wrong!" Then he laughed obnoxiously. John shrugged it off. This small insult could in no way compare to the torture waiting the following days.

The "jocks" started getting more and more ludicrous in their insults. They called him names and physically hurt him. John, being a peacemaker, didn't fight back. His friends abandoned him, accused him of being gay, and bullied him as much as the jocks did. Only Anne stayed by his side, ignoring the insults thrown their way.

John stayed on the gymnastics team and trained. He was depressed, but tried not to show it. He knew he had his parents' and Anne's support, but the bullying still hurt him. One day, John received insulting texts and emails, his former friends had leaked his number. After that, John started to cut his arm. He hid the scars and didn't tell anyone about his pain, not even Anne.

Even though he knew bullying would happen to him, it was harder to ignore the depression rising inside of him. The more cuts he had, the more he thought it wasn't enough. He then considered turning to suicide.

The day after his thought of suicide, Anne walked up to him. "Hey," she said. John replied with a small nod, his eyes downcast. "Listen, I know this must be hard for you, but things are going to get better. You don't need the approval of those jerks; you only need to be true to yourself. Trust me, the John that I know and love is the greatest guy imaginable," she said earnestly. John looked up at Anne for the first time in weeks. He smiled, thanked her, and took her hand. As they walked down the hall, John thought to himself, I'm lucky. I have someone to remind me that life goes on. Who cares what anyone else thinks?

* * *

What I hope to show with this movie idea is that there is gender discrimination against men as well as women. It would show the public that words do hurt and there can be serious damage to someone's life. If people could clearly see the effects of discrimination in a real-world situation, maybe they would see that bullying and prejudice come with serious consequences. Students are used to watching videos or reading stories in which the bullying victim is upset about his/her appearance or weight, so I hope that they would respond to a story about an average boy who is bullied about his decision to be on an all girls' team. Hopefully, this idea makes a sort of impact.

Honorable Mention

Salsabil Fellah Boulaich
Grade 6
American School of Tangier
Tangier, Morocco

(Although it exceeded the contest word limit, we wish to recognize this essay on its merits.)


At a French elementary school, a boy called Ayman is new to the class. He lived in Casablanca, but after his parents got divorced, he came to live with his father in Tangier. The teacher introduced him to the class and asked them to be nice and friendly to him. Ayman is fat, short with freckles and red hair. All the boys in the class start making fun of him because he is fat and not good looking. Ayman goes home sad on a daily basis. He is a silent child, and never shares his pain with anybody, not even his own parents.

After several weeks, the bullying started to get worse. The mean kids made him collect the trash in the playground or else they would not play with him. "Hey, Ayman, come pick me on your back and take me to the bathroom!" said Ali in a mean voice. Ayman refused but Ali said, "If you don't want to take me to the bathroom, you won't go on the bus today, you'll have to walk home." Then Ayman picked Ali and took him to the bathroom. When it was home time, Ayman got on the bus. As soon as he got a book to read, Ali took the book away from him, threw it out the window and told the driver that Ayman tripped him. The bus driver told Ayman to leave the bus and walk home and to bring a slip signed by the guardian the next day to let him back in the bus again. Then Ayman walked sadly home in the bad, rainy weather.

The next day, when Ayman was eating his lunch in the cafeteria, Sara passed by him and said, "You fat boy, why do you eat like a pig!" All the students started laughing at him and Ayman blushed and felt so embarrassed and walked out of the cafeteria. When he was studying in the library, the kids called him a nerd and told him if he gets an A again, they will pull his pants down in the playground in front of the whole school. From straight A's, Ayman started getting D's and F's. When his dad found out about the bad grades, he knew that something fishy was going on but didn't say anything because he wanted to make sure first. The situation was getting more dangerous and Ayman had a nervous breakdown. His father decided to call his mother to see what was the real problem. His mother came from Casablanca and Ayman burst into tears. "I hate going to school, mama, please take me to my old school! All the kids hate me and treat me bad and I have no friends and feel lonely!" cried Ayman. The parents decided to talk to the school's principal. After a long investigation, the principal and the teacher were able to identify the real problem of bullying and the kids that were involved. The kids were suspended for one week and were given a last warning. The other kids learned their lesson too. When the boys came back from suspension, the teacher and the principal decided to find a way to get rid of bullying in school once and for all.

Days passed and the teacher made each student write a project on how bullying hurts a person and how one should fight it. Each student in class made a research, and talked about it in the group. The students that were never bullied before did not feel how painful it is to be bullied until they made their complete study about bullying. But after the research, all the kids understood the danger of bullying, and how it should be fought in schools. Ali regretted what he did to Ayman and he decided to apologize to him in public, "I am so sorry about the pain I caused you dear friend, and I promise not to hurt you or any other student in the school again," said Ali regretfully. All the students started clapping and Ayman was very happy. "We will all be one family in school and help one another with all our problems," said Sara cheerfully.

At the end, the principal, parents and teachers were all proud of the students' efforts to fight bullying in school. This school in Tangier became a good example of a school free of bullying. The mother returned back to Casablanca knowing that her son will be happy with his new family and friends in school. Ayman started getting good grades again and helped the other students that have difficulties. Now, after listening to Ayman's experience in school with bullying, do you think bullying is a good thing to do? Well, I am sure the answer is going to be NO because bullying can only get you in trouble and can even result in a big depression or even suicide in some cases when the kids become hopeless. This is really sad and I hope kids all around the world fight bullying and teach others how to be nice to each other.

Lauren Richardson
Grade 8
West Hills Middle School
West Bloomfield, Michigan

The Dream

Imagine being stuck inside yourself and having no way to express the kind of person you are. Everyone thinks of you as a stupid and unknown human being. You have no way of communicating with others but still get overlooked by your peers. Sadly, this happens to so many kids every year that have a disability holding them back. People overlook them by thinking they are always in need of help and get special treatment. If you really get to know them, they could be the sweetest and the most caring person you may ever met. Bringing everyone together could have a huge impact on the lives of our children. If I had to make a movie about disabilities affecting the youth and living a normal life, I would call it "The Dream."

The Dream would be about a thirteen year old girl named Molly Anderson who has cerebral palsy. Molly is very intelligent, sweet and likes to learn new things every day. She goes to Westover Middle School in Sacramento, California. Molly lives with her mom Jennifer, her dad Jeff and her two siblings Erika and Matthew. Her mom is a nurse at the local hospital and her dad is an engineer. Molly's sister Erika is seven years old and enjoys being creative by making crafts. Her brother Matthew is sixteen and loves to play sports, especially baseball. Molly loves to be surrounded by her family and friends. When she is at school, she is often made fun of by her looks and disability. Molly can't stand how much it kills her to hear rude and mean things said about her every day.

The movie "The Dream" would start off by showing a typical day with the Anderson family. They would all wake up at 7:00 to get ready for both school and work. Because Molly is helpless with getting herself ready, her mom helps her eat and get packed up for school. Ms. James is Molly's teacher who runs the class full of other students just like Molly. There Molly learns at a pre-school level. Most people believe that Molly is very dumb and will never be able to complete the daily tasks of everyday life. For years they have been thinking of a way for Molly to be able to talk and communicate with the world. Finally her doctor called one day to tell the family that there is a new invention that could change Molly's life. The machine is called the Speaker 2000. It works by allowing Molly to speak. This machine is very expensive because it is brand new. Later on they get this machine for Molly for Christmas and she is able to speak for the first time. Everyone is shocked on how smart and how inspiring Molly is. She explains to everyone how it has been her dream to speak and express her feeling. She explains to everyone that the hardest thing for her that she had to live through was the bullying and how people believed that she would never be able to make a difference in the world. She inspired everyone by never giving up and being brave throughout her whole life. Because she inspired everyone in the community, her community decides to throw a fundraiser for her family. Molly and her family were pleased but Molly decided to donate all the money to a foundation for kids with cerebral palsy. Everyone then thinks of Molly as a different person and people then start to forget about her illness.

I believe this movie could have a huge impact on the world. One reason I believe this movie could have a huge impact on our society is because it can teach people that a disability doesn't take away a person's personality. The reason people may make fun of or make opinions on these people is because they overlook their true identity and don't see them as someone who can change the world. This could get rid of hatred because it could make people understand how it hurts people and that disabilities shouldn't make a difference on how you view a person.

In summary, I believe that anyone can make a difference. This movie could change many perspectives and make the world a happier place. Imagine seeing a girl just like Molly but she is happy and doesn't have to worry about anyone thinking bad about her. This can change many kids' lives if we work together as one to reduce the amount of bullying against children with disabilities.