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Photo of the week by Jake Maurer of Essex High School.

Photo of the week by Jake Maurer of Essex High School.



General writing & Fantastic. Begin with this line: “I stepped out of the door into a bright, fantastic, new world…”


Silence. Begin a story with this line: “They sat without a word to say to each other…”

Alternate: Gibberish. Ever read “Jabberwocky”? Write a poem of nonsense and made-up words. Make your reader laugh! Due May 2



Mica mansion
By Jessica Beliveau
Grade 7, Albert D. Lawton Intermediate School

There is a place, far away, where everything is moving yet completely still.

Across the soft dark soil sprinkled with pine needles and moss,

through the low, sparse underbrush,

and over the stepping stones leading through the still, murky pond,

the water’s slender fingertips stroke the reedy, rocky shore.

One of those rocks is inhabited by a person.

She listens to that sound, hearing and allowing it to wash through her mind.

Everything from the leaves of the rustling blueberry bushes

to the intermittent birdsong

to even the coarse stone beneath her fingers flows freely there.

A shield of spray from the prow of her mind envelops her.

Not even the occasional motorboat tearing through this peace disturbs her.

The motionless sounds and movements are a lullaby drifting through the air like a cloud,

slowly, slowly moving,

and gently disappearing, dissolving, spreading,

becoming the fresh, crisp air that she breathes in again

until her ship sinks and she opens her eyes, finding herself back

on a rock by a lake, listening to the sounds, by herself.



Fantastic new world
By Elizabeth Messier
Grade 4, Thomas Fleming School

I stepped out the door into a bright, fantastic, new world

And my feet halted as my eyes widened

At the site of little goblins

With noses as round as bouncy-balls

And bodies of green.

And there were fairies with little crystal designs

And swirls of silver and gold on their wings,

All fluttering around like butterflies,

Maybe having a race or playing a game

In a land of gumdrops and candy canes.

These creatures were so free,

Playing with each other.

Then all at once they surrounded me

And I started to smile

As they escorted me down a starburst path

To be crowned queen.

A group of fairies and the Goblin King

Crowned me with a ring of flowers around my head.

As they sat me on the throne,

They dropped to their knees and praised me,

“Long live the queen!”



More than 120 students responded to the School Garden Writing Challenge. Congratulations to winner Zofia Zerphy, Grade 6, Hartland Elementary School, who received $50 from the challenge sponsor, Vermont Community Garden Network (VCGN), and a $50 gift card from Red Wagon Plants of Hinesburg. Honorable mention went to Ramona Bilodeau and Lauren House of Essex Middle School. All writers received a bundle of seeds for their gardens, courtesy of VCGN. In the prompt, students were asked to write about their school gardens; or to write a persuasive essay about why their school should have a garden; or a food celebration. You can read all submissions to the challenge at youngwritersproject.org/garden.


It’s our turn to grow
By Ramona Bilodeau
Grade 7, Edge Academy, Essex

This is my garden. The garden holds more inside it than food. It holds memories. Long sweaty mornings and short fatigued afternoons. A hearty laugh with old friends and a soft smile with new acquaintances. The walls of this garden are built strong and will not fall because we stand united. 

Our garden expands larger than most would. Our garden reaches outside the fences where the plants grow. Far away to the other side of Vermont. In a small town on the other side of this state a teacher has a beehive in his backyard. A whole civilization run by a teacher and his students. We come to visit whenever we get the chance. We have seen queens fall and come into power. Servants were once infected and driven mad. We solved this problem with limited material. We saw all these things happen. All in a few beehives.

Life grows outside man and animal. Our history is rooted within this forest. The trees holding the thought and feeling of everyone who roams here. Holding them inside. We tap the trees because the inside taste is just too good to gather slowly. Make haste. For sap is in our blood and has always been there for us Vermonters, and the Vermont trees fill our needs. So the connection runs oh very deep.

One part of the vast garden is the part that grows food. We protect it for the better. The kale grows extra tall as it bakes in the spring sun. It waits to be cooked into something for lunch, maybe a nice kale salad or kale chips. The plants sprout all around it. They grow like our stories do…

Read the complete story at youngwritersproject.org/node/92809.


From the ground up
By Lauren House
Grade 8, Essex Middle School

One cell. The red of a worm. A piece of dirt. A drop of water. A blade of grass.  A stem and leaf. The petals of flowers and the core between. They make up one plant.  One organism in a garden of many, from the ground up.

Blooming and expanding. Growing and producing. Fruit and vegetables of all colors. People come and see us plant. We help them learn to grow.  For if you haven’t planted into the ground, you have not yet lived life to its fullest. My friends and I, we plant our gardens. To help our earth and others, from the ground up.

We plant from the ground up. From our seeds that grow and thrive to the roots of the plants there. We plant from the ground up. We plant to make the community of Essex Middle School a better place. We try to keep life growing all year. Helping our community by gathering maple sugar from the trees. Having a colony of bees. Showing our gardening projects for the world to see. Life is too short to not build from the ground up.

That is what we find here. Life. Everywhere. In the roots that spread from flower to flower, from plant to plant. From one particle to another. We buy, we dig, we plant, we grow. From the ground up…

Read the complete story at youngwritersproject.org/node/92812.