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Finding Identity: Works by Scholastic Gold Key Award Recipients

​Past the Present. Photograph by Diane Vivar

In celebration of the 2015 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards exhibition, now on view in the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education, the Teen Blog will feature guest posts by Scholastic Gold Key Award writers from New York City through the close of the exhibition on May 17.

We were awarded Gold Keys, the highest regional honor, in the 2015 Scholastic Awards.

Little Girl Look at You
By Clare D., 8th Grade, The Kew-Forest School, Forest Hills, NY

little girl look at you,
all dressed up in pink
why mama really never gave you the time to think
little girl look at you 
hidden under princess gowns and magenta tops
you’d rather be wearing basketball shoes and athletic socks
little girl look at you,
daddy never really liked to come and find
you dressed up in boys clothes
he said “Have you lost your mind?”
little girl look at you
or is it little boy?
never feeling right with your purple plastic toys,
little girl look at you
what do you really see?
the names people call you, or the person you were really born to be?

East 180 Street. Photograph by Austin Canales

​East 180 Street. Photograph by Austin Canales

The Locust Plague of the Number Six Train
By Maya B., 11th Grade, Brooklyn Friends School, Brooklyn, NY

The book hangs open in my lap, limp, as if emulating the mask each person on the subway car wears. I look up. Black marks start to fill the space between word and margin, period and quotation mark. I know this is an individual vision playing out before me, and if I were to ask a fellow rider what they’re seeing at this very moment, the answer would be, as always, nothing. The book fades to black within a matter of seconds, dropping from my hands to the floor of the car, cementing itself into the spotted linoleum. The black patch spreads, webbing its way around pole and sneakered foot, slowly filling the floor with darkness. I stare down into the oddly clean, matte emptiness waiting for what I know is coming. As we pull away from Bleecker Street, I feel the energy of the car shift as the floor begins its frantic vibration and the sound of a thousand books flung into a desert storm clog my ears, letting nothing else enter. Then, for the third time this week, the locusts emerge. 

From the blackness they rush forth and fill the car, anxiety driven and longing for a life outside the subway. I’m pushed up against a corner window, watching the now familiar picture unfurl its ragged edges and reveal the chaos within its fibers. Crashing and leaping from walls plastered in advertisements for laser treatments and FreshDirect, the insects pelt each other in the midst of their own rage and hysteria. I watch in fascination and disgust, the way one might look upon a bullfight, while a particularly large locust tries to wedge its way underneath a nearby window’s seam, committing, to me, an act of defiance by self-compression. The fervor with which the insect executes this act frightens me, so I pluck the creature from its struggle and hurl it into the masses before me. My endeavor proves fruitless though, as other insects join its struggle for freedom, taking to the car’s seams as if trying to rip apart the iron threads which keep them bound within.

With one quick jolt of the car curving towards Astor Place, the locusts are stilled, their bodies suspended among the metal poles and hooded fluorescent lighting. Their bodies descend into the black, as the subway floor becomes a vacuum for early-morning futility in its rawest form.

Life in Plastic. Photograph by Jack Adam

Life in Plastic. Photograph by Jack Adam

Okay (excerpt)
By Yanqing H., 7th Grade, I.S. Walter Crowley, Elmhurst, NY

Everything will be okay
And it’s okay
To not be okay
And you need
To look past
Your past
And look forward
At your future
And saints have pasts
Sinners have futures
And you make a lot of mistakes
And it’s okay.
And it’s okay
To not be okay
And everything
Will be 
Okay

And
Never
Give up to
Things that don’t matter
Because life is full of dangers
And you need to walk past these dangers

[…]

And everything will be okay
In the end

And if it’s not okay
Then It’s not the end.
And nothing is impossible
Because the word
Impossible
Spells itself as
I’m Possible
And you can never fail
Because failure is
Just finding ways
That won’t work
And it’s okay
To not be okay
To never be okay

For more teen writing, please visit the exhibition in the Uris Center for Education!

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