Homeschool Life

5000 Words Spring 2019 Contest Winners!

What makes 5000 Words stories stand out? I believe it’s the boot camp dynamic of the class. For 12 weeks, we immerse ourselves in a great work of literature (this time, Lord of the Flies) while churning out copious amounts of stellar writing. Students who can handle the demands of the class come out with a serious portfolio—far more than 5000 Words.

Each session we hold a peer-judged creative writing contest where students craft an original story and run it through the gauntlet of a class critique. 100% of students survive the workshop (but they do fret). They revise, and the final stories are judged by anonymous vote. Rachel Carpenter, Katelyn Steyer, and John Grigoli were our winners. Click on the titles to read and be amazed by their winning stories.

1st Place – “Broken” by Rachel Carpenter

Rachel Carpenter is 18 years old and a senior in high school. She will be attending the University of Akron in the fall of 2019. Dance is her passion and her major in college, but she has other hobbies to occupy her time when she is not dancing. She enjoys writing fictional stories, playing with animals (especially cats), and spending time with her friends and family. She also enjoys stepping out of her comfort zone, making new memories, and giving back to people in need by going on mission trips. Her faith is very important to her and is one of the reasons why she goes on mission trips. Rachel has been on a total of four mission trips and will be going on her fifth in June of 2019.

 

 

2nd Place – “Battle Scars” by Katelyn Steyer

Katelyn is seventeen and the oldest of six kids. She has participated in the 5000 words class for the past five years. When she was first enrolled to take the class, she cried because of the unknown. And when the session came to an end, she cried because it was over. Without 5000 words her passion for writing wouldn’t have been discovered. She has enjoyed every minute of the past classes and is forever grateful for Mrs. Griffiths and the lessons she has taught her.

 

 

3rd Place – “Tribute to Opportunity” by John Grigoli

John Grigoli is 14 years old and in eighth grade.  Besides writing, he enjoys baseball, basketball, cross country, playing piano, and camping.  He has a love for the outdoors, which grew from being a member of Boy Scouts.  He is currently working towards the Eagle Scout rank.  In his first full year in the 5000 Words class, he quickly gained an appreciation for creative writing, as well as the class discussions.  Additionally, he is grateful for the peer critiquing and the instruction from Mrs. Griffiths.

 

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fiction

Fiction: Hear No Evil

If this doesn’t inspire a story…

I decided to try my hand at the assignment I gave my 13 & up class this week: 500+ words using one of the seven basic plot types and using the picture to the left as a prompt. Confession: I didn’t decide on a plot type first. The picture was inspiration enough. I just began writing. I can totally tell I’m in the middle of C.S. Lewis’ sci-fi book, Out of the Silent Planet. I did have trouble wrapping this up though, and I believe it’s because I didn’t settle on a plot type or have a plan. As usual, I wrote myself into a corner. Too-much-time later, I figured out an end. Good thing I spend lots of time driving. It’s great for plotting. Now that it’s done I believe it falls under the plot type tragedy.

Hear No Evil

All prisoners wore red; it was mandated. Years ago, some clever administrator dubbed it the perfect prison garb, as red did not exist naturally on Zoya. Making the cloth was costly. First, the larvae had to be imported from their native planet. They were freeze-dried for the journey, then defrosted and spun in oxygen-rich vacuums– a noisy affair, as the larvae screamed in agony during the process. Weavers were always of an earless species, as was thought humane.

Once the larvae were unspooled, the cloth could be brought into the light. Then it was sewn onto a prisoner where it reacted with the epidermis, creating an even deeper, unnatural hue. Milan had laughed as they stitched the suit into the cerulean skin of his ankles, figuring he’d tear it out the first opportunity he got. They sewed it into his pink wrist flesh too, and his neck.

That hurt.

Thankfully he didn’t have ears, so he didn’t hear his own screams. He did note, however, that his mouth opened and closed and a great rush of air pushed out his throat. He’d seen others do it before, so he knew he ought to be embarrassed. The administrators tricked him. He didn’t figure on them stitching a seam up the sides of his legs and torso, embedding the live threads into his heart. If he tugged even slightly on the loose string at his ankle, he immediately felt an excruciating pain in his chest. The red suit would stay, and Milan’s life as a free citizen of Zoya was over. They let him keep his home in the Mottled Wood, they even gave a stipend for his pets. Pets were good for combatting depression, they said. Pets didn’t talk back or criticize. A man with pets might be rehabilitated.

The first step toward rehabilitation was to admit guilt. This Milan would not do.

Every day a representative from the Zoyan Mental Health Services would knock on his gate at precisely 2:00 PM, tea-time in Zoya. Milan was expected to put out tea (they provided it in the stipend, ginger as he requested). The representative sat on the wicker chair, Milan on the floor cushions. His kind never used chairs. They were to talk about his feelings. Was he sorry yet? He’d eaten company property, after all.

How was Milan supposed to know they took seven years to digest? He never would be sorry, he told them. The larvae were delicious.

Milan was sentenced to Indefinite House Arrest.

“What if I leave?” he asked, with his usual sass.

“Anyone with ears will hear you a mile off,” answered the judge, “We provide you the tools and the environment. Rehabilitation must be a personal choice. Free will above all else.” The judge pointed to the Zoyan crest of an eagle as he said this.

“I’m not free,” complained Milan.

“You’re free enough.”

Milan, wanting to make the best of house arrest, decided to make a pet for himself. The ones they provided were lame: a toy rhino and a pillow beetle. To grow what he wanted required a special solution. Luckily, the library delivered, and he was easily able to make the solution once he had the recipe. The other ingredient wasn’t easy: his big toes, chopped off at the first knuckle. They grew back of course, but it was a slow process. He had to wear white cotton socks and slides around the house until the healing was complete.

Every day he stirred the jar, noting with satisfaction that after ten days the toes dissolved and stretched like yeast dough and began to resemble an offspring of the phylum Chordata. The representative nodded in appreciation. “Coming along nicely,” he said, “Art is good for rehabilitation.”

“Yes,” Milan agreed.

“How does it make you feel?”

“I’m not sure yet. I’m still growing it. My feet hurt.”

“Yes. Well, I assume you’ve been adequately provided for?” The representative nodded to Milan’s pets and the jar.

“Oh yes, after this it will be enough,” Milan assured him.

“What are you making?”

“A penguin.”

“What’s that?”

“You mean you don’t know? They used to live on Earth. You are human, yes?”

The representative, clearly embarrassed at not knowing, changed the subject to that day, Milan’s last day on the job making the very fabric that now enveloped his skin. Milan threw up his hands. “Even if I apologize, I’ll wear this suit forever. What’s the point?”

“At least you’d be free to leave the house.”

“I stand out like a zit.”

“Only on Zoya. You could eventually leave.”

It dawned on Milan that leaving was precisely what they wanted him to do– once the larvae were digested of course. Though the representative was sipping tea and engaging Milan in talk, his attention kept returning to the glass jar. Milan pretended not to notice. When the tea was gone, the representative, a naturalized human, bowed to Milan and thought his farewell. For a human he could think quite coherently. Most simply could not separate their inner thoughts from those they wished to send as communication. It was a drawback to having ears.

Milan wondered if being assigned to him was a sort of departmental punishment. Though he had no ears, Milan could imagine how difficult it was for the representative to ignore the tormented calls of the larvae as his system digested them. The screams went on and on, like a siren, so Milan was told. He heard nothing. The rhino’s ears had been lanced, and the bug didn’t have any, but his new pet… through the thick glass Milan could see the tiny mouth opening and closing. Was that what drew the human’s attention?

Milan eyed the glass-encased prisoner. A stubby wing struck out and hit the glass. “I don’t receive you unless you think.” Milan tapped the side of his head as if that explained everything.

Already it didn’t seem to like him.

Milan sighed. “Do you hear them too?”

In answer, the penguin banged so hard on the glass that it quaked on the table.

“I can eat you too, you know,” Milan said, “And I wouldn’t be a bit sorry.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

fiction, Homeschool Life, on writing

5000 Words Creative Writing Contest Winners!

IMG_1326Please, Mrs. Griffiths, may we write more than 4000 words? In light of that question, can anyone doubt my status as literary miracle worker?

It’s true I fielded that question just a few weeks ago, as I gave the final instructions to my 13 & up students on how to complete their entries for the first-ever 5000 Words Creative Writing Contest.

You numbers-people out there are asking, Isn’t this the 5000 Words Creative Writing Class? Where are the other promised thousand?

Actually, the contest assignment was given after the students had already written well over 5000 Words in assignments done in the first few weeks of the course. By the time my students wrote their entry stories, they had already completed several other assignments, including three fiction pieces, two essays, and one literature analysis of our book Watership Down by Richard Adams. In this double class, the students wrote well over 10K words in twelve weeks.

I feel so blessed to teach writing/literature to home educated students, ages 10 – 17. This year my 13 & up students wrote a fiction story, had it workshopped by their peers, re-worked it, and submitted the final draft as a contest entry. Winners were chosen by anonymous student vote. Click the story title to read the winning stories. I think you’ll agree: I have some talented students.

soccer-152645__180Honorable Mention, Grace B., 8th grade, “A Painful Past”

Grace plays soccer for CSA Impact. Her talents on the page are rivaled only by her talents on the soccer field. This was Grace’s second year participating in 5000 Words.

 

image3rd Place, Isaac J., 11th grade, “RAP”

Isaac enjoys running, soccer, basketball, reading, tennis, writing, and watching Marvel movies. When he graduates, he’d like to become a Civil Engineer. This was his first 5000 Words writing class.

 

2016-05-09 10.46.25-1[1]2nd Place, Phillip M., 11th grade, “Polaroids”

Phillip participated in 5ooo Words over four years and eight novels. He competes in academic challenge and recently took part in CCWA Model UN, also headed by Kelly Griffths. Outside of academics, Phillip enjoys playing music (piano, guitar) and running track and cross country for Keystone High.

 

Kirby 21st Place, Kirby C., 10th grade, “Read Before You Sign”

Kirby has been participating in 5000 Words since the Fall of 2014. She enjoys ballet and tap dancing, as well as participating in speech and policy debate competitions. In college she hopes to major in public relations, with a minor in Journalism.

 

Congratulations to all my students!

Love, Mrs. Griffiths/Mrs. G/G-dizzle/G-dog/Oh-Captain-My-Captain (I go by many names… ok, I’m still holding out for that last one.)