Write Rhode Island presents Write Where You Are, a flash nonfiction program co-created by School One and authors Hester Kaplan and Taylor Polites in 2022. Write Where You Are invites young writers in grades 7-12 in the state of Rhode Island to document what they see, think, and experience in their homes, hometowns, and communities. The resulting work is what they know, where they’ve been, what inspires them, and where they hope to go.
We are delighted to have played a part in providing a platform for young writers’ imaginations and voices. We are grateful to all of those who believe in and support teens and their creativity.
Write Rhode Island is grateful to have collaborated with many Rhode Island schools and organizations to engage young writers. These include The Manton Avenue Project, Meeting Street School, Rochambeau Library, Nowell Leadership Academy, St. Patrick School, South Providence Library andWhat Cheer Writers Club. Write Rhode Island would also like to acknowledge support from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, The International Women Writers Guild and School One.
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My Fear of Growing Up
by Lana Alsahi
Trying to understand the concept of time has always been something I have had difficulty wrapping my head around. How does time fly by so fast at moments yet feels brutally slow at other times. Our entire lives revolve around the concept of time, so why do I feel as if I have no control over it? It controls me, but I cannot control it. It is the dependent factor that follows each action. I want to go on a run. Easy! The question is not if I am running or not that will determine its success and outcome, but how long I am running for, and how much time it takes for me to travel a particular distance. If I am tired during school, but I have to sit through fifteen minutes of a class versus two hours, how will I feel? The result of my mood for the day depends on the distribution of time. If time goes at a constant rate, why does a plank feel like an eternity, but reading my favorite novel for four hours feels like four minutes? It can be such a confusing thing, and the most conflicting question, is how do I savor a moment, a memory, an experience, a loved one. How do I hold on to the times I never want to let go? No matter how much we try, it is physically impossible to rule the hour.
I think that time is the root cause of a lot of problems, as it is the major factor of the concept of regret. The definition of regret is a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done. I regret not savoring my childhood, although it is a hard thing to ask of my past self. When I think back, I remember simple times, despite them not being so simple. Through my perspective as a child, life was easy, life was fun. It is true to have been the best time of my life, despite negative factors that I just had no understanding of. The saddest part about my childhood, is the lack of awareness I had, to the importance of holding on to that stage of my life a little tighter. Or maybe I did have a long joyful childhood that my brain is incapable of remembering to the fullest.
Two weeks ago, I opened my phone to check the weather app, and saw that it was a significantly cooler day, around 65 degrees. I took the beautiful weather as an excuse to go outside and run. I changed, had a snack, and stretched in my front yard. Around twenty minutes later I found myself to be jogging near my childhood home. It is a little private neighborhood with several homes on a small street where I learned to ride a bike for the very first time. I walked through and immediately felt a burst of nostalgia. Nostalgia is a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. I do not consider myself to be extremely sensitive, but I quickly felt my eyes water. They were not sad tears, but not happy tears either. The partial crying I felt was a unique type of emotion. It truly felt like a longing for an opportunity to return to those times, but also a sense of disbelief that I can never revisit those times again. The disbelief that the girl walking through this neighborhood in 2022 is completely different than the same girl who played in this neighborhood in 2012.
My sentimental connection to my childhood only stresses me more. I am living youthful years that I will look back on, as if they were only a minute long. I want to savor these moments like I wish my child self had, but I am now realizing it is much easier said than done. Recently, my family drove to Dresden, Maine. I was gathering wood for the fire my sister and I were starting, and for some reason the only thing that occupied my mind was how before I knew it, I was going to be back home. In the good moments, I now feel a fear of them slipping away. I look into the future and my mind imagines bad things, such as a loved one passing, or simply distancing, and their existence transforming to a memory. This is why I want to grasp onto these moments, and enjoy them, fulfilling my life with time well spent. Understanding that as Albert Einstein said, “the best preparation for the future is to live as if there is none.” I cannot control time, no matter how hard I try. However, I can make sure I never wait for “the perfect timing,” and take control in the moment. I can continue to leave physical remembrance. Ever since I began to stress over the concept of time, I have started leaving tracks. Taking photos, making a memory box, and most importantly, journaling. I want to make sure that there will always be remembrance for me to look back on, and feel the same sense of nostalgia I felt, when strolling through my childhood neighborhood.
The significance of time is so meaningful to me, it has even contributed to how I plan my future. I do not want to spend an extreme amount of time of my life pursuing something such as medical or dental school. For example, it can take around ten to fourteen years post high school graduation to become a doctor. There is beauty within being a student, but I do not want to exploit that time, as it is definitely followed by time consuming consequences. It feels restricting, and I want to travel and have experiences that will be remembered, not repetitive long days and nights worth of academic work and struggle. My goal is not to have a job that makes a lot of money, but a living that allows me to feel like my time is being well spent. Most importantly, I do not want my preoccupation with becoming rich and successful to become and excuse more time wasted. D.H. Lawrence said it best, “Life is ours to be spent, not to be saved.” I understand that I cannot control time, but I definitely want to attempt to make the best out of it, because we are all running out of time. Making the best out of the life we are handed before it is spontaneously ripped out of our control is my definition of not letting time fly away.
by Yoziah Alvarado
Harley Street, West Warwick, RI
Hi, today I’m going to tell you about how I was in a bus accident and a lot of people were hurt and I’m not indestructible. It happened right around the corner from my house on Harley Street. I think I have bad luck. I had just got on the bus and was sitting in the back. Two minutes later I heard a big bang! No words came out of the other people’s mouths. Their eyes opened so wide. I thought they were going to pass out. It was very funny because some of the kids yelled out the window to the driver of the car that crashed into the bus, “you can’t drive!” I jolted forward, but I didn’t feel anything because it happened so quickly. Then we just sat there until the police and firefighters and ambulance arrived and the school district person came on the bus and asked everyone if they were hurt or injured. A kid said his shoulder hurt and this other girl had diabetes and her blood sugar was low, so we had to see if someone had candy to raise her blood sugar. Luckily someone had pieces of candy. I could not wait, so I called my parents. They said, “we need parents’ permission to let the students off the bus,” so my grandma came to get me. She verified I was her grandson, so I went home and stayed home for school. Everybody was worried about the kids on the bus, so they asked us if we were ok. Like I said, I’m not indestructible. I’ve been in four accidents, and some of them were serious. This was very inspiring to me because after everything I’ve been through, I was very worried about my life and if I was going to live and survive.
Not as Easy as it Looks
by Valarie Aguilar
Central Falls, RI
In the summer of 2022, I spent most of my time cooking meals while my parents were at work. My parents liked the meals that I would cook for them but it didn’t start out pleasantly. One day in June, when my mom returned from work, she saw me rushing to get dinner ready for my dad. I felt terrible for her, and cooking looked easy, so I told her I would cook for her all summer, so she did not have to worry. She said she would pay me, but I haven’t seen a single dollar yet. However, when I volunteered to cook, I generally thought it would be super easy. I’ve spent all my life watching my mom cook, and it always looked like a piece of cake. Little did I know what I would be getting myself into.
I woke up on the first morning of cooking feeling very confident, maybe a little too confident. When I got to the kitchen, there was a note on the table from my mom telling me that she left the frozen chicken in the sink. I went straight to the sink and looked at the chicken for a good two minutes thinking, “how am I going to cook this?” Finally, my brain started to work, so I looked up a YouTube video on how to make the best chicken breast. Just when I thought I was all set and ready to start cooking, I realized that most of the ingredients I needed were nowhere to be found. I quickly texted my mom, but she told me to just get what I needed at the store. Already I was falling behind.
When I got home, I began cooking, but my struggles did not end there. Turns out I had added too much olive oil to the pan, and when I put the chicken breast in the pan, oil jumped out at me and burned my arm. It felt like my arm was throbbing from the pain it had just went through. I decided to put a jacket on and gloves so that I would not get burned while putting the second chicken breast on the pan. Eventually, I finished cooking, and usually, it takes my mom one hour to cook, well for me it took about three and a half. When my parents ate my cooking they said they liked it, but I could tell that they were just trying to be nice. At that point, I did not care because all that cooking wore me out. I never wanted to cook again. However, it was too late. I would end up finding myself cooking every day for the rest of the summer.
Resting in My Cocoon
by Karina Asare
Smith Street, Providence, RI
I feel trapped in a home that isn’t mine. I often find myself feeling out of place in my home, as if it doesn’t belong to me. I wake up every morning in my bed, the only thing I find genuine comfort in. It’s something solid and secure in my life. No matter how I feel, where I am, or what I am doing, this bed will always remain here. I know, it’s such a cliche, but my bed is my comfort area. Every morning, I have to detach myself from my biggest comfort, dragging myself away into the shower. The hot burning water comforts me as I rest my head on the shower wall, and I immediately feel relaxed. The steam circles around me, as my body, absorbs every delicate drop like a sponge. I put myself together for the day, and I walk out of my home, leaving my feelings behind in my bed.
My walk to my bus stop is only down the street. That short two-minute walk is peaceful. The sun is rising, the cold morning air brushes my face, and it’s quiet. I don’t usually get much quiet time to myself, where I can look around at what’s around me in silence. Suddenly, the blissful path I have led myself on has transformed into a loud, chaotic catastrophe. The cars rush past me, as I stand there waiting impatiently for the slow bus, that never brings me to school on time. I stare off on the left side of the road until I can see a large yellow vehicle slowly approaching, although the loud wheezes from blocks away are enough for me to know that it is arriving. I climb the four steps to the bus, greet the bus driver, and make my way down the aisle to my seat. I sink into my favorite grey seat, and plug my AirPods in, looking out the small window. I sit next to my friend in pure silence, something we don’t do outside of bus rides. As I stare off into the distance, I make observations. I predict the next stop that we are going to, or what time I might arrive at school. I remember every single person’s stop, noticing the random people around them waiting for their bus as well. The bus ride feels so short in the morning.
I sit through classes, fighting the urge to slam my head down on the desk and sleep for the rest of the day. Giving up isn’t an option though. If I allow myself to skip one assignment, I fail it and myself. I have high expectations for myself, and they constantly flow through my mind throughout the day. When the time finally reaches 2:24 p.m., I can allow myself to put those thoughts on hold and revisit them at another time. Opening the school exit doors feels like I’m finally free again. School is no longer my main concern for the day. As I step outside of the building, all I feel is heat. What happened to the cool morning breeze? I ask myself. I miss when everything was moving at an unhurried pace. I stand on the sidewalk patiently waiting for my bus. I climb the four steps and throw myself onto the hard bus seats again. This time there are no AirPods, no silence. Instead, I find middle schoolers from other schools sitting in my favorite seat. The hour-long bus ride makes me miserable, the burning atmosphere and the loud, random children bouncing around irritate me. I walk home and release all my energy and tiredness in my bed. I fall comfortably asleep, resting in my cocoon.
by Emma Bissonette
It takes a summer to get to know where I live. I don’t always like the summer here, but I don’t really and truly get to live here until school gets out and I’ll spend my days cooped up in my stuffy room with the windows closed so that the pollen doesn’t get in and assault my eyes. But eventually I’ll get some Claritin and venture out into the street.
The sun will beat down on my pale arms and turn the black pavement under my bare feet into a veritable grill. I’ll hop around awkwardly until I find a patch of grass, or better yet a tree I can climb to get a better view of my boring and beautiful little neighborhood. I survey the handfuls of gray condominiums that are plunked haphazardly on crispy, overtreated grass as I’ll clamber up through an age-old maple. Everyone’s tiny plot outside their house is different. Some have left theirs brown and barren, while others are lush with shrubs and small flowering trees. One particular lawn has a little ceramic sign reading “nature is everywhere” on bare ground on which they have grown nothing but irony. I’ll dismount from the tree and wander through the expanse of dry grass, beyond the condominiums and towards the water.
I live on a cove that expands in sparkling blue vastness before me as I approach the tiny swath of beach that the residents of my neighborhood are privy to. Rows of kayaks are lined up like bunches of rainbow bananas, most of which get taken out no more than once a season by their elderly owners, but they look hopeful, nonetheless. I will bury my toes in the dry rocky sand and look out at the finer, slippery silt. Little holes pock the slick surface and fiddler crabs run frantically to and fro, dipping into a hole and popping back out just as quickly. There might be fifty of them. Fifty tiny claws pulled close and fifty comically large claws waving wildly above wide, flat heads. The boat launch is lined on either side by big rocks and beyond that, spartina and marsh grass. Salty water laps rhythmically at the dirt, slowly and inconspicuously eroding and depositing. Creamy froth floats out from shore and into the wider expanse of the bay where it will meet the cheerful orange buoys and sleek sunbathing cormorants atop them. Motorboats rip the water to shreds as they race around the cove, trailed by squealing children clinging to an inner tube for dear life. I myself am partial to kayaking. I’ll fold myself into my mom’s thirty-year-old tiny Catalina and begin gliding across the deep blue cove. The boat will rock gently in the wake of the motorboat and my stomach will slosh along with it. My shoulders will burn as my paddle forces the water back. I’ll pass a tiny island coated in craggy rocks and bristling trees.
Finally, I will have crossed the whole expanse and have reached the small town on the other side. I’ll paddle hard toward a small stretch of sand and the boat beaches itself like a slim gray whale. I will drag it up, and with each step coarse sand will grind into the soles of my feet. Leaving the kayak, I’ll begin down the road leading into town. Wickford. Every other part of town is bland, dotted with strip malls and new housing. But not here. Here it is comparatively vibrant. Red brick sidewalks bustle with happy shoppers. Mostly locals and some tourists. Shop windows twinkle with fairy lights and colorful flags hang outside of each. There’s a little used bookstore on the corner covered in ivy where I purchased my first copy of The Secret Garden and the bath store full of lotions and soaps that smell like lemons and lavender. Next to the boutique, there’s a restaurant where salty sea breezes sweep across the bright faces of couples on dates and families out for dinner. I’ll help a group of girls take a photo so they can hold their frozen lemonades. A little boy peers over the edge of a small bridge at the water below. A tiny translucent jellyfish lights up almost imperceptibly, but he sees it. He tugs his father’s hand and for a moment they’re both caught up in the magic of the ocean. I know every inch of this street and its shops and its cracks and creases and corners. When people ask me where I’m from I’ll say Wickford. I might live in a little house across the cove, but this is where I really am.
by Jorge Boj
The place where I am happiest is the park because it’s a public space! I love the park because there’s a lot happening there.
The place that makes me happy smells like a room of flowers – one big scent. Strong vibrant smell that sticks on you and is part of you.
The place that makes me happy sounds like a crowd of people caring for each other, having fun with each other and just vibing.
If you lived on my street, you’d notice the unique cracks on that sidewalk that kind of shape into something.
If you lived in my city, you’d notice the millions and millions of murals of powerful people.
Off the Shore
by Charlize Bonah
New Hampshire beach
Charlize goes to the beach every year—it’s one of her favorite places to be. In her mind it symbolizes peace and happiness. It was like any other day in the summer, but she was going to the beach. This time it was a different beach in New Hampshire. The car was packed with her cousins and family members, so she and her sister had to ride with her aunt. She hated long rides but loved the calmness of them. The first thing she did when she got in the car was put her air pods on and start watching “How to Get Away With Murder,” her favorite show. She doesn’t even remember falling asleep, but she woke to the sound of her name being yelled, the feeling of the hot sun blazing on her skin, and the sound of the beach waves crashing. She was home. She got out of the car and located her other family members. There was food, drinks, and music, but all she worried about was getting in the water. She convinced a few of her cousins to come with her. She made sure to bring her boogie board with her, so as not to get crashed by waves. The first step sent shivers through her entire body. This water is colder than I remember, she thought, but kept going. She gets on the boogie board and so does her cousin. They float out into the ocean without even realizing how far they were. She realizes once she hears her name being called and starts to panic as she calculates how far she is from everyone else. She jumps off her boogie board, but the water is above her head and she is drifting. Okay, now she is really panicking. She tries to use her arms and legs, and all the skills she learned in swimming classes, but she suddenly feels her body being forcefully taken by a big wave. She flips over with her boogie board and ends up on the sand. She sits there for a while thinking about what just happened. Her heart is beating out of her chest and her hands are shaking. She sees her cousin on his boogie board having a blast. She doesn’t even know what to feel at that point so, she goes to get a plate of food and lays on her blanket. She was done with the water.
The People of My Neighborhood
by Colby Boyar
Forest Hill Drive, North Smithfield, RI
There are many interesting people in my neighborhood. In fact, my neighborhood itself is quite interesting. It is a small set of three roads out in the woods. It is a very quiet area with one main road and two small roads that go off it and circle back to the main road. It’s a nice little area where you can hear the birds chirping in the morning, breathe in fresh air, and feel like you are engaged in the outdoors all the time. My house is on one of the small roads right off the main road. It’s a beautiful area with nice scenery and a large backyard with plenty of trees and wildlife.
Across the street from my house are my first neighbors, Lenny and Terry. They are an older couple, both around 70, and are extremely nice. They live in a smaller house, with a nice patio in the backyard. They have a tiny little old white dog named Mia, who might be the loudest dog in the world, as she is constantly yapping at people as they walk by. Both Lenny and Terry try to help others out as much as they can in their old age. Whenever they see something weird going on at my house, they will give my parents a call and keep us updated with anything that happens while we are away.
Both Lenny and Terry’s and my house are towards the top of a hill. On the top of the hill is a larger house with a nice front patio and a tree house you can see in the back. This is where Sam and Andrew live, two younger kids, Sam being 11, and Andrew being 8. Sam has darker gray hair and is much more relaxed and quieter than Andrew. Andrew has slightly lighter but still black hair and is a bundle of energy. He never stops moving. I had to babysit both of them when I was younger, and Sam was easy. Andrew wasn’t. I had to spend hours with him just to tire him out enough so he would lay down and relax and I could take a break. They also have two dogs, one much older, and then a younger, smaller dog. Both are black Labradoodles. The younger one is very difficult however, and is constantly running into the road, and so whenever I drive by their house, I always slow down to avoid hitting the dog, and avoid hitting Andrew, who would run into the street as well.
Across the street from Sam and Andrew’s house is quite a mess. It is a nice-looking house, but the backyard is a total mess. There are random tools and machines and junk lying around everywhere. The house belongs to an older man, who is constantly doing random jobs that don’t need to be done. His most recent ventures have been making a second driveway in his backyard so he can get more junk to his house, and then clearing land on the edge of his property to put a new machine there. I worked with this man’s son, named Alfred. Alfred is much different than his father, being much more strait-laced and less crazy than his father. However, Alfred isn’t the best person. He can be very rude and holds himself above everyone else. Being very egotistical and holding himself so much higher than everyone else makes him quite hard to be around, so when he went back to college, both me and my father were very pleased.
The last crazy neighbor who lives in my neighborhood is my old third grade teacher who lives at the bottom of my road. She is retired now, but she is quite the cranky old woman. She is about 60, with some dark brown, short curly hair, and some wrinkles around her face. She is a shorter woman, and my dad says that plays into her cranky attitude. She is constantly yelling at people when they get too close to her yard and hates when me and my friends ride our bikes past her house. She once actually chased a dog away from her yard because the dog got off the leash at Sam and Andrew’s house while I was babysitting them. Me and Andrew chased to get the dog, and the old woman proceeded to yell at us once we got the dog, since she believed we sent the dog to her house to go and mess with her.
Although my neighborhood looks like this nice, quiet place in the woods, there are quite a few crazy people who live there who can make living there quite the challenge, but it at least keeps things quite interesting throughout my day-to-day life.
Vernal Pool – a flash autobiography
by Willow Campbell
Cumberland Land Trust – Atlantic White Cedar Swamp trail head
A sparrow is perched on a branch of a hickory tree and the warm breeze whistles through his feathers as he chants his ballad. All is peaceful in the woods until chortling voices and boots stomping on last year’s decayed leaves wildly rip into the still forest. The sparrow launches into the sky alongside a flock of skittish robins, then flutters down to a safer location to resume his repetitive melody.
We walk across the river on a raised trail made of clattering planks that are bending and sagging from moisture and time. We point at three small mountains of sticks and mud that are safely hiding beavers inside. We continue winding through the forest. We climb over large rocks that are cold and damp all the way to their core. The rocks are covered in green patches of lichen as if someone had spilled green ink on their bumpy surfaces.
We weave our way between old, tall trees with branches growing in weird directions, as if frozen in a pose. Their branches slowly wave in the wind, dancing a waltz in slow motion to the song of the babbling brook feeding their roots and the melody of the songbirds balanced in their branches. We leap over crumbling, ancient stone walls that were built to try to divide the land but have now become one with the forest. Scraggly vines link them to the earth and chipmunks, snakes, and beetles harbored in the cracks. We ungracefully charge down a muddy hill and settle only once we reach the bottom.
A large vernal pool lies in front of us. At first glance no life is visible, just the murky water speckled with little floating plants, their long, thin roots anchoring them in the mud beneath the water. We do not dare to stir. As we wait in anticipation, I observe the shaggy veins that cover a tree, the little ringlets made from water bugs leaping across the pool’s surface, and a deer’s trail fragilely lying in the mud.
A single frog starts to croak, and others join in until the whole pond is roaring with the deep crowing of frogs. We lie still, hiding in the thick brush, invisible to the frogs and, when least expected, we explode out. We pounce on them with swooping nets. The frogs frantically try to grip onto the mesh and jump to freedom but our fascinated faces hovering over the top of the net prevent any escape.
We use mason jars to scoop down deep into the water. We expect the water to be murky, muddy, and empty but instead, it is clear, clean, and full of life. Little unearthly creatures are swimming in circles in the jar. Some have minuscule fins moving in wave-like motions propelling them upside down through the water. A few are frog tadpoles. Bulging eyes and gaping mouths make them look like some creature living down in the depths of the sea. Caddis fly larvae have made suits of armor out of debris, bark, and dead leaves in the pool. There is a clutch of salamander eggs, a transparent, green blob of jiggling slime encases the clear eggs that hold small wriggling tadpoles. The silt and sand settle at the bottom of our jar as we lounge in the sun-speckled shade provided by the canopy of lush green trees.
Once our curiosity has been satisfied, we pour our collection of new discoveries back into their home. As we tiredly tromp back through the forest, we see a fluffy fisher cat perched on a log. Its long body and thick brown coat are unmistakable. As we quietly shuffled closer it ran back into the dense forest. When we finally reached the car, all was peaceful in the woods once more.
A New Start
by Jasmine Casimir-Jean
This year I went trucking with my stepdad Snoop. It was bumpy. It was also nice and smooth and slow. I was living in Florida before I came to Rhode Island, and we took this trip in Florida. I remember seeing a nice river. We stopped to take some pictures and see the scenery. We had a good time and took pictures. Then we went to drop off the load somewhere in Florida. After we had dropped off the load we went to get something to eat, then we got on the road to go back home.
by Melody Chen
East Greenwich, RI
I’m normal. I’m normal, I tell myself. I gaze out the window waiting for the frame of view to change, but the only change is the indent upon the couch from which I gaze out. At least I’m making some sort of dent on the world around me. I’m normal. I bounce back from a downfall just like the cushion on the couch bounces back no matter how many hours I’ve sat. I’m normal. I carousel Netflix seasons and YouTube playlists until I’m unable to walk straight again after getting up. So, I keep going, until I regret it. I’m normal. My heart pounds when I stand above the stairs at three a.m., staring down into a black hole when all I want is water to quench my thirst after dreaming of a colorful life juxtaposed with my normal, black and white one. Even when I’m not normal—which I’m not—I know I’m typical. At least I tell myself that. I’m another customer in the Chick-fil-a drive thru. I’m another student present in class. I’m another teenager cooped up in her room like she’s in distress when really, I’m wondering how distressed jeans are in style. Time to change my style to fit in again. I’m another person trying to be happy in this small town, this small state, this “small” world. Is that normal?
Happiness is a drug. I find myself staring at my vanity mirror that I put on makeup in front of just to watch it flood into my eye bags in a reservoir for tears. These eye bags are so big that tears rarely waterfall down my chin. The mascara is gravel, and the tears are a stream, it’s no wonder I go through tissue boxes by the day. And it would take an eternity for tissues to soak up an entire stream. I’m counting down tissue boxes instead of days until I get my hands on happiness again. Even if it costs all my savings. But then again, you can’t buy happiness. I don’t even have a corner store in my deficient little town. My money stays stacked next to the mirror to remind me there’s an outside world full of outside people. I like to think some of those people are not doing that well—worse than me. But that seems selfish. I’m not a selfish person. I’m normal.
What they see is what I show. A wrinkly white shirt that was once the star of my closet now spends more time at the bottom of a basket than on my shoulders. Unless, of course, rescued by my desperate psyche to wear something other than a fourth-grade field day t-shirt that’s been bleached with salty tears for the past four days. Among every peaceful morning at six a.m.—or should I call it “self-sufficiency”—I default to the hamper that’s tripped over daily for the baggy denim shorts that have been worn around three times since the last wash. They remind me of beachy air, and I don’t like the beach. Something about water and sand not blending well. Well, others can’t tell. They don’t see how I don’t blend well with this place. This outfit is normal, and I put it on to seem normal — to blend in to survive. The only difference is I’m not one zebra in a herd surviving a lion. I’m one zebra in a herd trying to survive the zebras around me. They can turn on you just because you’re white with black stripes. I know things are not black and white, but it’d be easier on the eyes if there was no color to be blind to, no expectation to live up to, no normal to be abnormal within this place. I guess I’m only normal where I am: in my head.
17th Day of Birth
by Fluorite Cotrone
West Warwick, Rhode Island
Mom woke me up and said happy birthday. I got up, got dressed, did all my morning things, kissed my cats goodbye, and I was on my way. Mom wished me another happy birthday as I stepped out of the car.
I walked into school after she dropped me off, looked at the schedule on the TV, and headed upstairs. The morning show came on and I was fidgeting with my writer’s notebook. Beforehand, Ms. Hassell announced the tragedy that happened—18 elementary students getting shot. Mrs. Narcisi cried a little and I thought, “Alright, bad start to a birthday.” But I digress. Period five came along and NO ONE said happy birthday. My heart cracked, but I mostly felt empty.
The next period—that I remember at least—rolled around and my friends wished me a happy birthday, which was nice. However, it really sucked because there were so many “friends” that didn’t care to wish me a happy birthday. Other than that, my day went pretty well. We watched Chernobyl in period three and ended the period with lots of, “Oh come on!” because we were almost done with the episode. That class was probably the best, my friends wished me happy birthday and I had fun watching the HBO miniseries. After that I went home and vegged out for the rest of the day. I’m pretty sure my friends and I had lots of fun on a call while playing video games. I don’t remember much now but I enjoyed it. Afterwards, my mom and I drove down to see the preview of Top Gun at my workplace. It was a really good movie, and I had a blast! I don’t remember much else; it went by really fast and my memory isn’t the best. Sorry about that.
Last Year. Next Year.
by Harrison Coupe
During the Coronavirus pandemic I was in my house almost all day, every day, as I could not hang out with friends and there was not much to do outside. In the beginning of the pandemic when we first got a week off school, I did not think the virus was going to become a big deal. I expected it to be something people overreacted about, and we would go right back to our normal lives. Obviously, this was not the case, and that week went by very quickly as we got another announcement that we would be out of school for the rest of the year.
The summer between 7th and 8th grade was very boring as that was the time of complete quarantine. I sat on my couch for most of the summer playing video games with my friends. We could not hang in person so it was really all we could do. That whole summer was very unusual, and by the time it was almost over I got sick of staying inside and doing the same thing all day. I wanted to see my friends in person again and be able to hang out with them. A few months before 8th grade started, I was still planning on going to Hope Highlands for middle school. It was only about a month before the start of school that I made the decision to go to Hendricken. It turned out to be a very good decision as I was able to get used to the school, my teachers, and make some friends.
During online school, I sat in the same seat in the same room every single weekday. At first it was weird and confusing to be on facetime with the whole class, and it took a long time for many people to get used to. Only a few weeks in, I was used to the same routine every day of sitting down and getting on zoom with my teachers. The year was quite easy as most teachers gave less work because of the pandemic, and more time to teach new topics. The year went by very fast as we were switching between online, hybrid, and regular school. The summer between 8th and 9th grade was finally back to normal. The pandemic was much less of an issue, and I was finally able to hang out with my friends again like normal. I have a pool at my house, so I did not go to the beach very often. When I did go to the beach it was usually with the same group of friends each time and we would go mostly to play Spike ball in the sand. The summer was incredibly good but like most it went by fast, and before I knew it, I was back in school for the start of high school.
Room to Breathe
by Cameron Daley
Living in Rhode Island, you get to know every inch of the state. It is the smallest state in the country, and anything more than 30 minutes is considered a long drive. Even though all the cities are small and within a 30-minute drive, every city is unique. Each city has their own stereotypes, and their own unique landscape. All the cities of Rhode Island are different in culture also. Cities closer to the water have wealthier inhabitants, while the cities further north might be less wealthy, but they are lush in forest land. I live in the middle, where the city has wealthy areas, and not so wealthy areas.
The city I live in is called Pawtucket, where the vast majority of people are on the lower end of the economic scale. Lots of the folks here are first generation immigrants living close to the poverty line. Crime is a common thing in the parts of the city that are impoverished. A few streets away from my house is one of the poorer areas, this section is much larger than the area where I live. I live on the west side of Pawtucket where gang violence happens just blocks away. Homelessness is a big problem for the city of Pawtucket, where it is common to see people on the corner begging for money.
Where I live is on the fringe of the wealthier class, and the lower class. I can walk two blocks and be in a crime ridden neighborhood. Being so close to crime, my family of seven people doesn’t go outside too often. Our house is crowded and it’s hard to focus on one thing at a time. When we do go out as a family it usually is not in Pawtucket. We go to quieter parts of the state, like parks and the beach. Our family is moving to Barrington, a quieter area of the state, where my family can go outside and walk to the park instead of taking a 15-minute drive.
I am feeling optimistic, even though moving to a new place is hard. It’s especially hard when you started moving seven months ago and have been living with your grandparents and seven other people for the whole time. Even with all the chaos of the surrounding neighborhood, the chaos of the crowded house, and the chaos of the move, I have kept my cool waiting patiently for the day that seems like it’s never going to come. I’ve waited almost seven months for this move, and I don’t think I can wait too much longer. Even still, I will wait as long as possible if it means that I can live in a home that has room to breathe.
A Day in the Life of Bishop Hendricken
by Jack DePalma
Good morning, my name is Jack DePalma, and I am going to show you a day in the life of a Bishop Hendricken student athlete. Any Hendricken student is busy without extracurricular activities, but with someone who does, every day is jam packed with events.
May 16th started like any other day: wake up at 6:00am, shower, eat breakfast, brush your teeth and head to the car to get to the bus stop. The bus arrives at 7:15 and we get to school at around 7:50. I use homeroom to catch up on some missed work or make up a quiz. If I’m not doing schoolwork, I usually watch YouTube. Classes start at 8:25. I go about my school day as any other student would; going to class, doing assignments, and taking notes. The bell rings at 2:30 and the school day is over, but my day is not close to finished.
All the baseball players rush to their lockers and then to the locker rooms to get changed and get out to the field. I am one of the first ones out and I get in the cage to take batting practice. Today I only took one round and then worked on throw downs to second base with the shortstop. At 3:20 the team goes to wait for the bus in the parking lot. The bus was supposed to come at 3:30 to get us to La Salle’s field for 4:15, but the bus didn’t come to Hendricken until 4:00. We arrived at La Salle at 4:50 when the game was supposed to start at 4:45, but the opposing coaches and umps do not care. I went into the dugout to gear up to warm up the pitcher. I check the lineup card to see I’m batting eighth and catching. We only got 15 minutes to warm up, the pitcher was rushed and did not get to take his time. Then we were thrown into action.
Nolan, the pitcher, and I took the field for the bottom of the 1st inning. Our team had gone down 1,2,3 in the top of the inning. The hitter works the count to full then gets hit by the pitch on the 6th pitch of the at-bat. With a man on first Nolan gets the next two guys on strike outs. Then two guys get on base from walks, and the bases are loaded. He works himself out of the jam and gets out of the inning with the score still 0-0. The second inning went similarly, and with the score tied I was set to bat second in the inning. The first batter of the inning popped out, then I was up. I took the first pitch of the at-bat for a ball outside, but the next one was right down the middle. I swung and hit a hard-line drive over the fence in left field, a home run. I didn’t even know I could do that; I told my teammates in the dugout; we went on to score one more run and the score was 2-0 Hendricken.
We are back out for the 3rd inning and the pitcher has found his groove. He gets three outs in four batters, and we are back in the dugout to hit. In the top of the fourth inning, we put up four more to make the score 6-0. When La Salle was up to bat, they quickly rattled Nolan with a triple on the first pitch of the inning. They quickly scored two runs on errors by Tyler and me. We got the second out on a strikeout and the third on a runner caught at home trying to tag up. I got up again in the fourth with runners on second and third. I scored one with a single and moved the other to third. Nolan rolled through the fifth but was taken out due to high pitch count. We moved to the sixth inning and Cooper was pitching. He got three outs, and we were into the last inning of the game. La Salle scored one more in the seventh, but it didn’t matter. Final score: Hendricken 7, La Salle 3.
It was a huge win for us because La Salle is our biggest rival, and it is always a big game when we play them. Then I went back home, answered some text messages, ate dinner, took a shower, did my homework, and went to bed. It was a great day for our team and for me because I had one of my best games of the season, but more importantly we got the win to stay undefeated and improve to 17-0 on the season.
A Road in RI
by Mackenzie Fasteson
Balcom Road, Foster, RI
There she goes, strolling down her tree-covered road. This is a path she has traveled all her life, but it never seemed so daunting before. The trees now reflect their inward colors, leaves falling like memories, flying if only for just a moment before they are forgotten as they hit the ground. A storm around her brews as every step crunches a new leaf, bringing the sound of memories back to life. Some laugh, cry, scream, shout, gloat, haunt, create or destroy, but every one is a part of her. Every one is found on her tree of life. The branches begin to shake as the hurricane inside her mind travels to her past. A place she wished she could return to. The sky was bluer, the stars were brighter, and her house felt like home. Now she walks the ever-changing road, looking back on the place which was bright, blue, and shining; a place she left called childhood. She now ponders how the trees have grown with her but have seen the lives of many before her.
The Noise on the Other Side of the Door
by Savannah Ferretti
First Street, East Providence, RI
Where do babies come from? We’ve all heard of the stork that carries them around. The story is usually just a one-time thing per baby, but for me it’s been different. All of the kids’ shows I would watch, with my face a foot away from the TV like any other kid, showed that “picture perfect family.” I had a few years, at most, where through my little innocent eyes that was going to be my reality too. Now I am at what looks like my last resort, and I’m not sure if that’s what’s making me feel like everything’s closing in on me, or if it’s the fact that my bedroom smells like a moldy basement and is only about the size of a few closets. My siblings have always stepped up to take care of me, but being in this house with my sister makes it all seem so real. Inside here is not my world.
When the door opens the air hits me, inviting me to what could be, the noise fading behind me and becoming distant. Even the first step out of the door feels freeing to me. Sometimes I don’t even know where I’m going, I just go. When I step away from all the noise on the other side of the door, it’s just me and the people whose heads turn for just a second. After the glare, no eyes are on me. I’m alone but so peaceful now.
You live about two houses down from me. Every day I walk past your house to get to mine. The stairs on your front porch don’t even look like they’re big enough to step on. Your house is light yellow, I think. I don’t know, I’m colorblind. Your hair is always a mess like mine and pokes out in every single direction. That little boy with the dirty blonde hair, with the biggest smile for such a little person, must be your son. He looks just like you.
Who are you? You’ve started to wave to me, and even said hi. Our conversations build as time goes on. Is the noise inside too much for you too? Every morning I wait outside your house for the school bus. You’re usually there to help your brother down those tiny stairs. You know that warm feeling you get when you see a stranger helping someone, the kind where you catch yourself smiling? I felt that every school morning, but something was different to me. You no longer feel like a stranger. You saw me when no one else really did, literally and metaphorically. I know that you saw the bike I hid in the bushes that day, but you never said anything. You even offer me rides when it’s far too cold for me to be out here. Do you understand me?
Now I walk past your house a few extra times because it’s been a while since I’ve seen you. I’m not a stalker, I promise. I’m just worried. Where did you go? Your son is still there, but it’s been weeks and I haven’t even seen you once…at least not in person. I’m scrolling through social media and your face is everywhere. It doesn’t even feel real. Instagram is filled with pictures of you and long paragraphs talking about how much you’re missed. They all called you “Truth.”
I feel like I can’t end my day being seen in a good way anymore. You’re not there to smile and get excited to say hi to me when you see me. Now I walk back inside that door to all the noise, and no smiles. Not even a “hi” can be heard over it all. I never understood how I could feel so alone with people around me. Thank you for being there.
Best Friends Forever
by Romalisha Fidel
Haitian Baptist Church, Cranston, RI
Living with my best friend Grace over the summer was one of the best highlights of my whole entire summer. In July, we started planning VBS (Vacation Bible School) since we had to get all the lessons set in place. The night before VBS started, which was a Sunday, I went over to her house while her brother ended up going to my house. We had a sleepover and it was one of the best sleepovers that we’ve ever had. We kept laughing so her sister, who is also my best friend, gave us two doses of melatonin to shut us up because we had a big day ahead of us. We woke up early, around 6 a.m. so everyone had a chance to get ready. When everyone was done, we headed to the church, making a few stops along the way. When we got there, the first thing we had to do was get breakfast set up and sign all the kids in. Me and my best friend Grace were teaching the preteens while her sister Ashley was teaching teens and up. Our other friend Francesca was teaching the babies. The first few days of VBS went really well but the one that was really my favorite was Wednesday. Wednesday was the night where we switched off to my house. After a long day of teaching, Grace and I went to my house while her older sister Ashley went to her house to grab her stuff for the sleepover. We were bored so we went up to my room and brought some cornstarch we saw downstairs. We had the idea since my mom is anemic and has pica. We set up my phone to record this moment, since we knew it’d be hilarious. Grace was scared while I was excited to see her reaction. On the count of three, we put the cornstarch in our mouth. Seconds later she started coughing up a powdery storm. We couldn’t stop laughing. It’s one of my favorite memories I have with her. I’m grateful to have such a funny person in my life, who I call my sister, who brings me so much joy and happiness.
An After-school Day
by Hanny Garcia
Central Falls, RI
Hanny just got home from school. She was sweating because of how hot it was outside. It was an exhausting day for her even though school had only just started. Hanny greeted her mom when she came in through the door. She then headed down to her room, put down her things and changed out of her school uniform into comfortable clothes. Then Hanny sat down on her bed to relax for a while. She started watching TV for about 30 minutes until she thought it was time to start on homework. She already had a list of homework she had to do which she was not happy about. Homework is tiring for Hanny, and she wants to go to sleep but she cannot because if she does, she’ll sleep until 8 p.m. Hanny thinks that is pretty late to start on her homework. Since she has not eaten since 12:30, and it is now 4 o’clock she looks over to the kitchen to see if there is anything on the table, but there was nothing. She continues on with her homework until it is lunch time. Hanny’s family starts lunch at 4 o’clock because that is when her dad comes back from work. It has been like this for many years. When it is lunch time, the hot food that is in front of her when she sits down at the table is one of her favorite dishes. They are called tostadas, the dish has a toasted tortilla as the base and on top it has sour cream, refried beans, shredded mozzarella cheese, lettuce, and salsa. A few minutes later Hanny is finished with her food. She then puts her dishes away and cleans up the place where she was sitting at the table. Every time Hanny finishes eating anything her mom or dad makes, she thanks them for it. Now it is time to do homework. Hanny does not want to do it, but she finishes up her homework after three hours. She then goes and takes a shower; it took her about an hour to be done. Getting ready for bed takes a long time for her to do. First putting her school things away in her backpack and her Chromebook. She then organizes and tidies up her room to finally sleep in her bed. Hanny really does not want to go to school tomorrow because she is exhausted from all the work already, yet she knows she has to.
Manhunt in the Neighborhood
by Mason Gilmore
Setian Lane, West Warwick, RI
I remember playing manhunt in my old neighborhood on 121 Setian Lane in West Warwick when I was 14 and younger, mostly a summer thing at night. It would be me, my siblings and cousins and sometimes friends, but not including friends it would be 11 people. We would either play inside or outside. We mostly played outside because outside has a lot more room and a lot more places to hide. To find out who would be the seeker we would either do bubble gum in a dish or rock paper scissors; I usually wanted to hide because I didn’t really like seeking but when I did seek it was fun. The neighborhood was big with a lot of places to hide. There were not many restrictions to manhunt: the only things we could not do were go into people’s backyards and not go past a certain point. Since there were 11 of us, we would team up and hide together, but if you hid together there was a bigger chance for two people to get out, so you have to be careful, even at the beginning of the game. We would make a plan to hide together and after five or ten minutes if the seeker didn’t find us, we would split up and hide alone. There was this one time I was hiding near a bush. I was looking to see if the seeker was near, so I peeked on the side of a tree and I saw someone. I ran near a bush trying to run away or find another place to hide but I didn’t know this bush had thorns and I felt the thorns. It hurt but it didn’t really bother me, but it did at the same time. Maybe because my adrenaline was pumping and it was taking over, so I looked down at my leg and it was bleeding – not a lot though, so that was a good thing. The person I saw wasn’t the seeker, it was my cousin. Ten minutes later we were found, not the first ones though, we were like the last ones found. After we finished that game, we went home to chill and sat around the campfire and ate smores and dinner.
by Eliza Madison Gobin
Narragansett Beach, Narragansett, RI
I hear it before I see it: the Atlantic Ocean, briny and blue under the summer sky. I drag my fingers along the sea wall until I get to the steps leading down to the beach, which isn’t crowded yet. In a few hours, my parents and the triplets will be here, but for now they’re at our rented beach house finishing breakfast. I slipped out early for a few minutes alone with the sea, and, if I’m being honest, to look for the beautiful lifeguard I’ve been watching all week.
She looks like a junior or senior in high school. Her glossy black hair flows down her back, and her smile sparkles like sunlight on the ocean as she watches over Narragansett Beach. I couldn’t stop myself from noticing her soft curves on the first day I saw her. There’s another cute lifeguard here too, and I heard him call her Isabel, pronouncing the I like a long E.
I sigh when I see she isn’t here yet. I wish more than anything that my older sister was here too. If Mira were still alive, my crush on Isabel wouldn’t be a secret, and Mira would tease me about her. We would be in Rhode Island for more than a week, and I’d sing.
Mira died in an accident when she was ten, I was nine, and the triplets were only one. She was my best friend, and we did everything together, especially singing. She was always better than me, but I didn’t care. The only thing we loved more than singing was each other.
My family moved from Rhode Island to upstate New York for a fresh start when she died, but every summer in the four years since, we come back for one week at the end of August. It’s my favorite time of year, but it’s not the same. We can’t squeeze everything I miss doing with Mira into one week. Now I never sing, so that no one who remembers her hears me and gets hurt.
Lost in thought, I realize I’ve walked to the edge of the water, and I step in. It’s cool but not cold, refreshing as it slides over my freckled feet. The ocean and sky stretch as far as I can see. I wade in until I’m up to my waist, my denim shorts and the edge of my periwinkle tank top soaked through.
I turn to scan the shore for Isabel. She just arrived in her red bikini top that’s a little too tight, and I try not to stare at the soft brown skin peeking out. I feel my pale face flush as I take a step back. I stumble backwards and fall into the water, just as a huge wave comes out of nowhere, pulling me under. I splutter and try to stand back up, but it’s no use. Water is everywhere.
Then I see a flash of orangey red in the water. It almost looks like a curl of hair . . . mine? No, it was too far away. At first, I thought I imagined it, but there it is again. This time it’s a whole head of hair that looks like mine but isn’t. I know it instantly; I saw it last when I knelt before my sister’s casket at her funeral.
“Mira?” I whisper into the water, and I think I see her face, as freckled as mine. I don’t dare believe it’s her. How could it be?
She looks young. We were only a year apart, but I still looked up to her. Now I’m 13 and she’s still ten.
She smiles at me mischievously, and a strangled sob comes out of me at the sight of that grin. My sister swims closer to me and wipes away my tears with her thumb. At least I think she does, but it’s hard to know because we’re underwater and her touch is light and feathery. She doesn’t move her mouth, but suddenly I can hear her voice in my head, singing a wordless song as beautiful as the sunrise above the ocean.
It takes me back to so many moments with Mira. Leaving PPAC, the Providence Performing Arts Center, after a matinee musical and gushing over the soundtrack, already singing our favorite songs. Choosing picture books at the Athenaeum and humming softly as we wished to be old enough to go upstairs. (I’m allowed to now. Mira never got old enough.) Running past the purple-and pink blossoms of the Kinney Azalea Gardens, singing to fairies we were convinced could hear us.
I open my mouth and sing with her, not caring anymore that my lungs are filling up with water. This is worth it.
Her voice fades too soon as the water grows dark again. I think I see her swish a turquoise tail before she disappears completely, but I can’t be sure. I keep singing. Next thing I know, strong arms are setting me down on a towel in the sand. I blink my eyes open slowly. At first all I see is blinding sunlight, but then I realize Isabel is standing over me. I try to sit up, but she stops me.
“What’s your name?” she asks, and my shoulder tingles where she touched me.
“Uh . . . Via. Olivia.” I feel my face heat up, but Isabel smiles. After many more questions to see if I’m alright, Isabel insists on walking me back to the beach house. My siblings fuss over me and my parents make an appointment at the hospital to make sure there were no consequences from inhaling too much water, but I tell them I feel fine, just a little tired. I can’t tell them about seeing Mira. They won’t believe me, and I barely believe myself. But as I change into dry clothes and my mom helps me into bed, I sing softly, promising myself I will never let Mira’s memory fall silent again.
Taking the Leap
by Alessandra Gonzalez
Forth Wetherhill, Jamestown, RI
My heart was racing, and my palms were sweating. There was a crowd of people on the cliff and in the water. I looked down to see the water, still, waiting for us to jump into it. I had done this before – I was okay, right?
My first experience cliff jumping was exhilarating. There was a crowd of people around me waiting for me to jump, cheering me on, and it made the pressure even worse. I had my sister and familiar people around me. It had taken me a long time to jump, but I had comfort with my sister and it was not as scary. This time around, it was just Wendy and me. We had impulsively decided we were going to go cliff jumping at four on a random day and drove almost forty minutes to the same spot. It was just us two, and once you get there it is a long walk ahead. The whole setup is very suspicious. You have to park behind a Wendy’s, and then there’s a dirt trail you follow into the woods. I was going by memory this time since I hadn’t been here in a while.
After walking further in, you have to take a slight left away from the main trail, leaving you in the middle of the woods. Branches kept brushing and scraping against our hair and skin. Wendy and I were both equally paranoid. We kept saying, “Did you hear that?” We also kept looking back at the guy we saw going the same way, trailing us. After seeing a deer walk past us, we finally arrived at the cliff. There was a crowd of people already there that I had not expected. It was close to sunset, so we thought it would just be us. We climbed uphill to a rock higher up from the jumping point. We took our time getting ready. We changed and ate some strawberries. After wasting so much time we finally agreed it was time to jump. We slowly walked down the rocky hill and stood on the edge looking down. We stared and neither of us said a word. Still looking at the water, Wendy had said to take off our shoes and to jump. We very hesitantly put our towels down, phones away, and were once again on the edge. We stood there arguing back and forth until we had agreed we were going on three for the tenth time. We didn’t drive all this way for nothing.
One, two, three, I stopped in my tracks, but Wendy had already jumped. Midair she says, “I’m gonna kill you!” The people in the water were laughing as they had seen what happened. They started to encourage me by telling me to jump. I waited and saw her rise back up, but I felt guilty right away. Without a second thought I took the leap into the water. The feeling is like no other. You’re in the air and everything is happening so fast but once you hit the water it gets quiet, and you slowly rise to the surface. I swam to Wendy as I laughed about the whole situation. Fear is a natural instinct for everybody, but it can stop us from doing all kinds of things. Cliff-jumping was just one of the things I won’t allow fear to stand in the way of.
In a Hurry
by Whitney Guervil
Me and my beloved sister, Sydney, had to walk forty-three minutes home.
There are five bus stops: CF (Central Falls), Providence, Johnston, Pawtucket, and Cranston. After school, Sydney and I go on the bus. We live in Cranston, and we’re the last stop. We usually get home around four. We get out of school at two twenty-four, except on Fridays, when we get out of school at two twelve.
On Friday the bus was nowhere to be found. The bus came minutes later. Sydney and I were just sitting on the bus, waiting for our stop. Finally, our stop came. Sydney and I started walking in our direction to go home. But then our friend Kaylin didn’t want to go to Dunkin’ by herself near her aunt’s house. which is in a whole different direction from our house, so we walked with her because we didn’t want her to walk alone. By the time me and Sydney got to Dunkin’ with our friend Kaylin, our mom facetimed us. We were not supposed to be at Dunkin’ because she wanted us to go directly home, no stops. So, Sydney and I dipped. We ran so fast that we didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to Kaylin. Anyways, around this time, it’s almost three. At this point, we’re walking towards Cranston East high school but we near another Dunkin’ Donuts, so me and Sydney try to get Coolatas because we’ve been running and walking for so long, but then our mom facetimes us again so we ran again right out of Dunkin’. We’re walking now near Family Dollar. Family Dollar is near me and Sydney’s house. We’re still walking, but we’re getting closer to home. Then we get to the front door. I grab my key and unlock the door. Sydney and I run upstairs with our backpacks, and we both go straight to sleep after that long walk.
My Favorite Place in the City
by Icesiss Harris-Dixon
Manton Avenue, Providence, RI
My favorite place in my city is very secretive, and very few people know where it is. When you leave the clubhouse, you make your way to the north highway. You stay on until you see the exit that’s named after a part of a tree. If you’re right, you’ll find ice cream. Take two lefts and a right and greatness awaits you. On a calm quiet street, you can hear the river flow. You can’t see it, but you know it’s there. When walking down the street I see a dirt opening, almost as if it’s the entrance to a parking lot. I move the trees to reveal a path to beauty. Only a few steps down a steep hill and a whole new world is revealed. By the river the grass is greener, the sky is brighter, and the water is the only noise in range. The stream of water flowing down the hill like a running bath eases my mind. The open field brings me to peace. When I’m at the river I feel calm and like nothing else in the world matters.
If you lived in my city, you would notice that everyone is somehow connected. My city is so small that everyone knows what you had for breakfast this morning. Living in such a small city can have its perks due to us being so small but having a large population makes movements in the city very effective. It is easy to spread the word about problems within our communities and makes it easier for everyone’s voice to be heard. In my city there is separation but there is also togetherness. And when we all stand together there’s nothing that we can’t achieve. In my city people don’t talk enough about the creativity that flows within us. There are a lot of places you can express yourself, whether it’s painting murals on buildings or performing in front of an audience. We have some of the most creative minds in my city that have yet to be explored. My city is filled with a lot of small businesses that are branching out because of the support from our communities. I believe that we are tiny but have the power to become as big and bright as Las Vegas, as long as we continue to stay together.
The Ever Living Memory of Rocky Point Amusement Park
by Addison Hefferman
Rocky Point State Park, Warwick, RI
If you ask anyone who ever attended the Rocky Point Amusement Park, they will happily tell you stories of frolicking in the pool, eating chowder and screaming on the roller coaster until the sun set. Rocky Point Amusement Park opened in 1847 and closed in 1995. With an almost 150-year run, it found a special place in the hearts of many Rhode Islanders. Walking through Rocky Point now, it is calm and hard to imagine what the atmosphere used to be. Looking through old photos of the park shows a time of prosperity and liveliness. Many people flocked to Rhode Island just to come to Rocky Point.
Rocky Point started as a location for cruises that went down the coast of Rhode Island. It was then bought by William Winslow in 1847. This allowed him to market Rocky Point as a place to go on picnics. As popularity grew, Winslow built attractions upon the property. Winslow sold Rocky Point to Byron Sprague for $60,000 in 1865. Sprague constructed a 250 foot observation tower in which one could see beautiful and vast coastal views. Sprague also built a grand hotel and a lavish personal mansion. These, unfortunately, were destroyed in the great hurricane of 1938.
Rocky Point has been visited by many important, as well as influential people, including President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1877. During this visit Hayes received a very historic phone call from Alexander Graham Bell who was located, significant for the time, 13 miles away in Providence. This Rocky Point event was the first ever presidential phone call. Bell told Hayes that it was an honor to speak with him and hoped to hear a response. Hayes then requested for Bell to speak slower. This phone call led Hayes to later add phones into the White House. In 1989 President George H.W. Bush used Rocky Point to deliver a speech, given that Rocky Point was considered the only place big enough to accommodate the crowds that were attracted for this speech.
In the late 19th and early 20th century Rocky Point was famous for grand baseball games hosting major league baseball teams and great players, including the great Babe Ruth. It was the only major league arena to hold baseball games on Sundays, going against the customs, and laws, of the time. One major attraction for players and patrons alike was the shore dinner hall.
Rocky Point was home to the world’s largest shore dinner hall. It was famous for their “all you can eat” clam cakes and chowder. The first Rocky Point shore dinner hall was built in 1925. This was destroyed in the great hurricane of 1938. It was reconstructed in 1949 but it too was destroyed by Hurricane Carol in 1954. The third and final shore dinner hall at Rocky Point could hold up to 4,000 people and resist winds of up to 200 miles per hour. It was so popular that over 1,000 bushels of clams were consumed every day.
Although Rocky Point was famous for baseball and “all you can eat” chowder, the memory is most alive in the amusement rides. This made Rocky Point a competitor in the emerging amusement park scene of the east coast. Rocky Point’s competition ranged from Lake Compounce in Connecticut to Walt Disney World in Florida. The most famous rides included the Ferris wheel, the corkscrew roller coaster, and the log flume. When the park closed, these rides were auctioned off and some still live on at other amusement parks.
The most impressive of the rides was the corkscrew roller coaster. There were only a handful of corkscrew coasters in the United States at the time. Interestingly, Rocky Point’s corkscrew had one more loop than the other corkscrews at the time. Rocky Point was so desperate to sell postcards on the opening day of the ride that they used a photograph of a corkscrew from a different amusement park. When Rocky Point was closed the corkscrew was sold. It is still operating at Wild Waves amusement park in Washington State to this day.
There was a pool at Rocky Point. It was built well before the hurricane in 1938 which caused destruction to most of the park. The pool became very popular over the years. It was a large pool with a diving board located in the middle of the pool rather than at one end of the pool. Under the diving board, the “deep end” was merely a large pit in the middle of the pool. This allowed patrons to be in the shallow part on all sides. In Rocky Point’s final years, the pool became too popular. People were buying passes which granted them access to the pool and then never go on any of the rides. However, this model didn’t make enough money for the park. Therefore, when the pool needed renovations in 1985, they decided to get rid of the pool instead of continuing to fund a non-profitable attraction.
Although not much remains of the once bustling amusement park, there is still an arch. This was one of 11 arches at the 1964 World’s Fair. Specifically, it was for a campaign known as “peace through understanding”. The reasoning behind bringing this arch to Rocky Point is unclear. The other arches are scattered around the US. There is one still in New York and one went to Ohio. This arch has become the most iconic piece left at Rocky Point.
It is hard to imagine people swimming in a pool while hundreds or thousands eat clam chowder, however you can still get to know Rocky Point Amusement Park through the stories that are told by former patrons of the park. Their eyes shimmering with fond memories, it is now a nice place to sit and take in the ocean or explore the few remains that are littered with graffiti. Although I never heard the roar of the corkscrew or ate the “all you can eat” chowder, I can still feel the life at Rocky Point.
by Xavier Lenus-Hidalgo
Smith Street, Providence, RI
Home is where Xavier spends most of his time these days. When he doesn’t have basketball practice or a workout, there is a 99.9 percent chance you will find him at his house. Right after school, he makes his way through the hallway and shuts himself in his room. There, he spends at least three hours getting assignments done from all of his classes. However this may take an extra hour, because he stops every ten minutes to check his phone. He goes from being productive, to watching multiple basketball clips on YouTube. Every now and then he will quickly look away from his phone as he realizes the amount of time he has spent drifting away from the task at hand.
Once Xavier feels like he has accomplished enough school work, he makes his way outside through the back door for some fresh air. He can recognize the change in temperature from his room to the outdoors, as he feels the cool breeze on his face. He shoots hoops for about an hour, it could be longer but Xavier loses track of time when he is playing basketball. He tells himself, “One more shot, and I’m going inside.” Afterwards he continues to take 50 more shots unsatisfied with each previous one whether it went in or not. Maybe If Xavier focused on what he is doing and gets it done, everything would be easier.
by Ashantty Huallanca
Five years ago, I would have never thought that I would have to be growing up seeing my grandma sick. My abuela has always been the healthy and strong one in the family, so she is viewed as the head of the family. My grandma has basically raised my older brother and me, so she likes to worry about little things like any other mother figure would. When I first heard about her sickness, I didn’t really believe it. I was so used to seeing her doing well. She loved walking, she never cared about the distance of going somewhere, as long as all her grandchildren were with her. I remember having to walk about an hour to the mall just because she wanted us to play. She liked doing things for us.
At first, she didn’t look like she was becoming weak and ill but over time it became very noticeable. The first time I’ve ever seen her complain was about a month into quarantine. I remember hearing her call for me while I was in the dining room working on my classes since we were online. I could hear the pain in her voice as she said my name. She wasn’t feeling well, and I didn’t like seeing her in pain. She was just lying there on the bed so stiff, as if her body was in some kind of shock. She wasn’t able to move, so we had to help her do pretty much everything. She was like that for the rest of the week. My grandma is very independent, so having to try and assist her was hard because she wanted to do it all alone and sometimes would yell at us to leave her alone. We made sure she didn’t have to worry about us eating or getting our schoolwork done, since she likes to stay on top of that. We were all just confused because we had never seen her like that at all. No one really had answers about how she got sick in the first place. We just assumed it was something temporary. As time passed, she got worse. I didn’t know what I could possibly do to help her. I kept asking questions and got no response as to why she was like that. It didn’t make sense to me because I’ve always seen her active. I just want my abuela to be fine again.
To Another World
by Aralyn Hubbell
The leaves on the trees fade to a light green and cast a shadow upon the next. The paved road is hot from the sun beating down on it endlessly, and I wonder when it will get a break. How cold the road must get in the night. Is it ever the right temperature? Maybe during sunset, when the night is slowly creeping in while the day leaves a beautiful painting of the landscape.
The bike I’m riding is gray with purple details of vines and flowers. My friend let me borrow it when she slept over. Most of the time we just ride our bikes and let the breeze take us to another place.
We were riding down my bumpy old road and talking; I saw the hill up ahead and the feeling of excitement overflowed. I sped up a little bit but made sure that I didn’t go too fast. The hill seemed to go on forever, the breeze caught my hair and made it fly behind me. At the end of the hill is a cul-de-sac and there are two directions you can go, each meeting in the middle. My friend always takes the left one and I always take the right. On my side there’s a black mailbox that has a dog face carved from wood on top and a wooden tail on the back. The people who live there have a black lab. I always loved a lab’s coat. The feeling of just brushing my hand so gently over the top and the soft but wiry hair.
As I pass by the mailbox I turn a little bit, making sure the road is still smooth. I watch my friend get closer and we both wait for that moment where, for a second, our bikes are lined up. I smile and say “Hello,” she smiles back and says “Good day,” while speeding past me. The feeling after building up the momentum when you stop and cruise along without needing to worry about anything but freedom. I close my eyes as I get that sweet moment to take in the world from a different perspective. Imagining what it would look like if my eyes were open at that exact moment. I open my eyes when my bike starts slowing down. I peddle once again, meeting my friend at the top of the loop. We get off our bikes and walk up the hill. My legs start to cramp instantly, but it’s always worth it at the end. We get to the top and see the big white house. We always have to mention something about its beauty. It has delicate streetlamps guiding you along (or up/down) the driveway to the house. I always love the window seat at the top, where it’s rounded out and the roof has a peak at the top, making it look like a winter wonderland castle. If the house were a flower, it would be a white rose, with its delicate petals and soft, peach fuzz. What would I be if I were a flower? I have always loved dogwoods; I know it’s not a flower but I would love to be a tree and have my roots sink into the earth and feel it surround me and I’d feel secure for a split second. I’d watch over the field that I’m surrounded by and feel proud. People would find me and think “What a gorgeous tree. I wish I could look like that.” I’d feel beautiful for once, truly knowing that I’m a part of such a wonderful world of nature.
My friend and I get back on our bikes at the top of the hill and head back to my house. We go down the winding road and see several houses. The tree’s shadows comforting you then going into the sun again feels like the heat is welcoming you as if you were an angel.
We’re almost back at my house and I feel relieved but a bit disappointed. We pass by the last house and the little vernal pool with the lily pads and frogs. Tranquility surrounds the pool with trees that comfort the pond. The lily pads look like they’re part of a painting, the details so defined it doesn’t seem real.
I never liked that house, it always felt chaotic to look at with its broken mailbox and loud dog. The vernal pool always makes it seem more special in a way I can’t describe.
The bike trail is just up ahead, and the branches and leaves make an archway for the dirt road. We pass the trail and there is my house, the big open yard with the sun shining down on it. The maroon deck with the mini tree sitting in its wooden box.
We go through the little opening between the trees and just ride through the grass. I feel myself going up and down on the uneven grass and I have no control of it, but it feels good, having no control.
Once out of the grass we park our bikes at the side of the house and take off our helmets. My hair is pushed down by the helmet but frizzes up from the heat.
We keep talking and for a moment, I look back and see the road – my road, that takes me to another world.
The Wonders of the Woods
by Zachary Iacabbo-Sawyer
There are many interesting places in Rhode Island and each one has some sort of history or memory that Rhode Islanders know. For example, Newport Creamery is incredibly famous in Rhode Island, and everyone knows it is a place to enjoy a nice ice cream while you chow down on a burger the creamery way. Throughout my life in Rhode Island, I have made memories and learned about several different places around my hometown, which is Cranston. I grew up in the Auburn area and went to Waterman Elementary School. There, I met some amazing people. Some of which I still hangout with now, four years after leaving that school. Behind my backyard are woods and a cemetery, and I have spent many days exploring with my neighborhood friends and my family. One day while I was exploring back there, I saw this huge concrete land. I ran home, and I found out that there used to be an old cement factory in that location. Another time, when I was back there exploring with my dad, we found old railroad tracks.
One day after a big snowstorm, my friends and I decided to go down to the old cement factory. All that is left of the old Cullion cement factory is just the base of it. We saw a pile of snow that had frozen over to ice, and we had the great idea to have a race across it. My friend John and I were in the front. Me being the competitive person I am, I decided to dive across the finish line, and I sliced my knee open. I could barely walk back to one of my friends’ houses, so they had to carry me. My friend’s mom patched me up and that was the last time we tried to race across ice. Now, the old cement factory area is being turned into a place where people dump trash. Another game we liked to play near there was another form of a race, but it was a little safer. There is this steep hill that we would time ourselves going up and down. Sometimes people would twist an ankle or hurt their wrist but that was about it. My friend Adam had the fastest time which was 9.43 seconds. I was second with 9.54 seconds. As of right now it is difficult to get down there because it is overgrown with poison ivy and prickly bushes. Also, the area is muddy and flooded with water.
The railroad tracks behind my house holds tons of memories. For example, my dad and I went exploring and we came across these railroads. We then saw one of the railroad spikes sticking out of the ground, so we tried to get it out. We brought power tools with us, and we tried to get it out and we succeeded. Now, I go metal detecting with my friends and we usually find more railroad spikes and plates. I probably have about 80 pounds or more of the iron from the spikes and plates. I plan on selling most of it for scrap metal, except for the first one I got with my dad. In those woods is also where I filmed my theology project. The woods lead to a historical cemetery which is owned by the Bethany Lutheran church and Holliman Potter lot.
So far in my fifteen years, I have many memories that take place in my home town. Living where I do now is probably the best place in my life. I hope to make more memories in Rhode Island with my friends and family.
Sharing is Not Caring
by Yosmairy Jiminez
Personal space has never been a thing for me. Most of my life I’ve shared a room with my two younger brothers. My brothers are my favorite people on this entire planet. We share so many memories together, and I truly do not think anyone will ever get to see me the way they do. But, I absolutely hate sharing a room with them. It sounds crazy, two boys and one girl in a room, right? I know. All three of us are in completely different stages in our lives, going through different emotions, which is a lot for one room. While my youngest brother, in first grade, plays video games and rages with his friends, I’m in the left corner of my bottom bunk bed stressing about my homework. As I stress about my homework, my 14-year-old brother is on the top bunk watching Netflix with the volume as loud as it can be.
It affects almost everything I do. If I’m tired during the school day? My brothers were up all night being loud. If I lost something? My brothers probably moved it. Is the room messy? My brothers flung their backpacks and clothes on the floor as soon as they got home. I want friends over, but I know that I will never be alone with them. There’s never a time when my brothers won’t be right there listening to our conversations. As much as I love my brothers, I absolutely hate sharing a room with them. It especially sucks when my romantic life comes into play. It sucks being on the phone with a guy and having to mute every second just to yell at my brothers for making inappropriate and embarrassing jokes. Or when they purposely squeak our loud, creaky bunk beds, which makes a very disturbing noise. I absolutely detest when I’m mentally going through something, and I want to be alone. There’s nowhere to hide and dump my feelings out. I’ve learned the bad habit of just keeping things in and letting them build up. It sucks because while I’m going through my own things, they are too. Who knows if my 14-year-old brother cries at night because he and his middle school girlfriend broke up? It’s weird how although we share the same space and are practically together all the time, we have no clue what we each might be feeling or going through. Or maybe, they don’t see it that way. Maybe I’m the only one who feels so strongly about it. I guess we’ll never truly know. Although I hate sharing a room, I do feel that my bedroom is my safe space.
by Kaelie Kennedy
Westerly, Rhode Island is a small town that can be described as unique. The neighborhoods are full of families who live next door to each other and watch out for each other. In my neighborhood, we all share Christmas cards and cookies during the month of December. On a daily basis, we also have meaningful conversations and check in to see how the other is doing. Once people visit, they will find other neighborhoods are very similar. The houses’ aesthetics are simple and all have a homey feel. Moving away from the neighborhoods and the town itself, Westerly is full of Italian heritage. The streets of downtown are full of long standing restaurants and family businesses that are the heart of Westerly. I very frequently see crowds of families and teens with their friends downtown. The people in Westerly overall are well known to each other and amongst others in the town and are respectful of each other. My experience living in Westerly has been full of ups and downs. I am pleased, however, to say that Westerly is my home. Growing up, I was surrounded by soccer parents who know everyone around because they went to school together. I was also surrounded by people who know everyone’s entire family history and are related to everyone in Westerly. I have witnessed loving relationships and close friendships in Westerly. I treasure Westerly’s beaches and nature spots. Most of all, I treasure my life that has been established here and am grateful to be living in Westerly because I know most are not as fortunate to live in a safe and loving community.
The Accidents That Have Happened in Front of My House in West Warwick
West Warwick, RI
Question: Why are you focusing on these stories? Why do they matter?
Accident 1 – In 2017, just after we moved was the first accident in front of my house. It was a head on collision at night. My parents and I were awoken by a big bang sound. We looked outside my parents’ bedroom window and we saw two cars had crashed into each other. The silver one was heading straight in the left lane and the black one was in the same lane. One of the drivers said he was swerving to avoid a squirrel. One person in the passenger side died from the accident.
Later, we found out that he wasn’t swerving to avoid a squirrel, he was actually drunk.
The Shooting at Warwick Mall – I was at the Warwick mall in Toy Vault when I saw a fight break out. Someone ripped down a rack in the store causing a mess. Then the fight moved into the middle of the mall and a couple of gunshots were heard, causing everyone to panic and scream “get down”. I went to the back of the store to hide until we saw the police getting involved and handcuffs being put on the fighters.
Accident 2- The Hit-and-Run We don’t know much about this one. We just saw someone’s bike smashed into a pole. We don’t know if it was a hit-and-run or the bike just ran into a pole. All we saw was someone being loaded into an ambulance one summer afternoon. We never got the whole story.
Accident 3- The Final One Like always, someone was coming down the hill way too fast. Unfortunately this time the brakes didn’t work and the person crashed right into the white picket fence on the corner.
Accident 4- The fire a month ago We’re not sure what caused it. It was on the other side of our street behind our house, so we couldn’t really see it, but we could see the firetrucks and police cars, and the Battalion Chief’s SUV was parked near our house.
These accidents made a big impact on what’s happened around our neighborhood. They were shocking and scary. People were afraid to leave their cars unattended because of the head on collision.
Her and I
by Yarielys Lantigua
Prairie Avenue, Providence, RI
My grandma and I have a little tradition where we play this card game called tres y dos and I’ve been playing with her since I was like eight. A Dominican card game called tres y dos basically requires that we each obtain five cards while keeping our decks secret. One card must be face up on the table, and the deck must be placed next to it. Continue drawing cards from the deck until you get three of the same cards and two other cards, but those cards must be identical but distinct from the three. The only drawback is that whenever you take something from the deck, you must always place. Whoever wins must state “tres y dos” after drawing a card from their stack. For us, this tradition is really important. If it’s not with her then I don’t like playing with anyone else. Whenever I see a deck of cards, I always think about the battles we have while playing tres y dos. Every time she scored, I would say “Mama tu ta siendo trampa.” Which translates to “Mama you are cheating.” After that she says, “No es trampa, es buena suerte.” Which translates to “It’s not cheating, it’s good luck.” She always ends up beating me. So I make her switch spots with me so I can feel her good luck energy and she tells me, “Cambiando lado no va ser nada por que yo como quiera voy a seguir ganando.” Which translates to “Changing spots isn’t going to make a difference because I’m just going to keep winning either way.” Even if I’m in the lead, for example if I have seven and she has five, she always finds a way to get higher than me and always ends up beating me at the game. She has consistently won in all of our games, but I don’t care because all I want is to spend time with her. She’s been in the Dominican Republic, so we haven’t played in a while, but when I go in December, I’ll definitely play with her as often as she wants.
Eyes of Fear
by Daniel Larios
It started off as any ordinary day. My cousins and I just came back from a fun day at this place called Level 99 in Massachusetts. We went to one of our favorite spots to eat, Buffalo Wild Wings, and we were all talking and enjoying our time together. My cousin, Aiden, was eating a little faster than he usually does because he said he was hungry, and he was sucking on the fat of the wings as if he was sucking in the meat without chewing. He was trying to show off this new way of eating chicken wings that he saw on TikTok which made him eat it faster. This was pretty annoying because we were all just trying to eat and not have any competition anymore; we did all that at Level 99. The whole day he had been trying to show off his athleticism and just trying to compete with everyone in the smallest things imaginable, like to see who could get to the car faster, or who could eat their food the fastest. He started to cough, and I thought it was going to be one of those times where you cough, but after a few seconds you get over it. That is where I was wrong.
He kept on coughing for a while, and then he just went silent. I looked up and his face was purple and his eyes were red. He was choking. He looked at me with desperation and with the most fearful eyes I had ever seen. I was about to grab my phone to call an ambulance, but my other cousin, Byron, was quick to react and performed the Heimlich maneuver. The Heimlich maneuver is when you wrap your arms around a person, making a fist with one hand and clasping it with the other. You place your fists between the person’s rib cage and belly button and thrust your hands into their abdomen until the object is freed from their throat. After what felt like hours, Aiden spit out the piece of chicken and was able to breathe again. I was so happy to see that Aiden was fine and breathing. This taught me to always appreciate your time with people, even when they are annoying you or bothering you, because you never know when it’s your time or their time, and I am glad that it was not Aiden’s time that day.
Trivia Filled with Fun
by Edmanual Lora
I think that this story will be funny because Ronney being one of my favorite people in the world is just so funny, and we have many funny moments together. This story takes place in school on September 15th. We do fun trivia in Mr. Morvillo’s class, and we go out of our way because we want to laugh and have fun. Our group which consists of Ronney, Dariana, Adrian, Daniel, and I decide to go on our chromebooks to find the answer to one of the questions he asked. And Adrian, who is another important person to me, decides to save us from being caught because everybody was saying we were cheating, which was true. But we had a bag in front of the chromebook so that nobody would be able to see it. But Adrian is a very clever person and slaps the bag up against the chromebook to close it fully and I don’t know why, but Ronney and I cried in laughter for a solid three minutes. It was to the point where I had tears coming down my eyes. And then to add on to that hilarious moment, it was so funny that I fell to the floor and while I did that I tried to get up and I banged my knee so hard, which amplified the moment four times more.
Taking Good Out of Bad
by Maddox Lora
During the pandemic there was a lot going on, as nobody quite knew what was going on or what was going to happen in the future. During the pandemic I was just spending time in my room and joining zooms when I needed to, not really thinking about it too much. I quite literally rolled out of bed, as my desk where I did all my schoolwork was right next to my bed. My average day during that time was just going to the zoom calls for half the day and then playing video games or going on a bike ride with friends, then repeating.
Going on the bike rides was very enjoyable, as me and my friends found and discovered many new and interesting places to hang out at. We would bike to the beach, bike along trails, bike downtown and get lunch, and many other things. Although many bad things were happening in the world and everybody was stressing over COVID-19, we were making the best of life and exploring. We found new and random things that we would never have visited before without the pandemic. Since nobody knew how to approach this, including the schools, we were let out of the zooms at roughly 12:00, allowing for a whole day of fun and new adventures on our bikes.
Then there were the days that didn’t always allow for this – rainy days or other things. This did not stop me and my friends from having fun though. This is because we could facetime and finish possible homework we had, but have conversations while doing so, which made everything more enjoyable. Then after that we would get to the real fun, video games. Video games are almost a stress reliever because whether you lose or win, there is always laughter coming from either me or my friends, which would be hysterical and just the most fun somebody could experience. Even when we got bored of one game, there were always so many different games that we could play and enjoy, without even trying super hard to win. That is one major thing I enjoy about my friends; we don’t always need to try as hard as we can or always have to win. But we will always have a good time and always be able to make each other laugh. With friends and people who you care about and who care about you, you can get through many things.
Lastly, when you live in a place for a decent amount of time things can get boring, but when a new perspective is forced and twisted into your life, you can find and discover new fun that you would not have been able to find before.
Write Where You Are
by Grant Mandeville
How do I write a paper on my experiences in Rhode Island? I guess I could talk about my town, Narragansett, and the long days outside with my friends. I could talk about the many skate parks I spent hours practicing in, or the waves I have surfed at the beautiful beaches here. But let’s look back, back to when we were stuck in our houses, dreaming of the fun that once was possible. I remember the sunny days when I was in my room, trying to find things to keep me sane. One of the most important things that kept me stable was music. I play percussion and I have a drum set in my room. Playing and making music was a great help during COVID times. Also, I did play video games, but it allowed me to stay in contact with my friends as we would play online games and communicate via face time. Having a sibling helped, although some days he would really be a menace, it was nice having a companion when we were stuck inside.
A detrimental part of trying to stay happy during all of this was not being able to get outside. I’ve been skateboarding for about three years now, and that sport is very important to me. Through the process of trying a trick over and over, it teaches a person patience, the value of the skateboarding community, and pain tolerance. Pain tolerance being quite important because of the many falls you will have. But, during the pandemic, it was a real risk going out to the skate parks. So, to help with that, we built our very own skate ramp (half pipe) in our backyard. This was an amazing feat to which I owe mostly to my dad. In January, we dug holes and filled them with gravel and stone slabs. We did this to level out the ground so that the whole project would not end up in a debacle. Mind you, the ground was as hard as a rock, and the wind was ice cold. Looking back at it, it probably wasn’t the best time to do this. However, it was probably one of the best things to have come out of the pandemic and was loads of fun.
Later, while the pandemic was starting to slow down, my grandparents moved down to Narragansett all the way from Taunton Massachusetts, now they are about five minutes away and it’s been great. Almost every Sunday we have dinner at their condo, and my grandmother makes the best food. Then school started. I came into Hendricken knowing how strenuous the work situation would be and I made some new friends along the way. I played JV soccer and I am currently on JV volleyball. In the summer prior, I set up a volleyball net in my backyard and played with the friends from my town. I made so many memories jumping off Monahan’s dock, going on vacation to Block Island, and getting cooked by the sun at the beach. This year I’m hoping to make even more. I’m now working as a lifeguard so I can make money and still have fun. I want to push myself more in school but not be stressed out. I am in a band, and I’ve progressed so much as a musician. I also want to start a band of my own.
If I’m writing about where I am, then I’d say I’m in a pretty good place. I am surviving my first year at Hendricken, it has been a challenge, and it is very different from public school. I am excited and nervous about my first year being a lifeguard, and I love that I can spend the time I have with my grandparents in their new condo. I’m hoping to progress even more as a skateboarder and enter a few competitions which I think would be fun. Maybe one of the bigger things about where I am and where I’m headed is that I met a girl, and we really get along. What’s even more crazy is that we didn’t think her parents would let us hang out, but it turns out that my dad and her mom were great friends in high school. We had no idea, and they hadn’t seen each other in 35 years! It’s true what they say about Rhode Island, it really is a small state.
Write Where You Are
by Liliana Martinez
The Park in New York
Everyday me and my family members would go to the park to play basketball. I remember around 2017 or 2018, I’m not that sure, but it was the time where people would dress up like killer clowns and go around scaring people with knives and we would be scared to be outside when it got dark because of that. One day we went to the park as usual to play basketball. It was getting dark and all of a sudden, we saw a shadow appear and then we saw this clown that popped out from behind the building and started chasing us all with a knife in their hands. We all started running to our cars because we were terrified, and when we were driving away the clown started chasing us but then a car came from the other side and the car ran him over. It’s strange how the tables turn because who knows what that clown was trying to do to us but now he was the one that needed help.
My Baby Sister
by Keimara Matos
Johnston, Rhode Island
My baby sister is one of my favorite people of all time. Baby Bentley. A little girl whose face and tininess I fell in love with and still adore till this day. She is now 3 years old. I was smitten with my sister’s newborn appearance—still am—because of how little and cute she was. I think of myself as my sister’s guardian. I can’t wait to share our loveable, humorous memories with her as she gets older. Like when I tickle her and she laughs the loudest, or when we’re in her room and she’s in a funny mood and leaping all over the bed while dancing. During the summer, my sister and I were hanging out on our porch when my parents left to go to the grocery. She went inside and all I heard was her loud footsteps running up the stairs. I personally thought she went to grab her toys so we could play together. Wrong! She had come outside with her bathing suit ready for me to help her get dressed so we could go swimming. When Bentley is upset, she will only come to me sobbing and demanding to be picked up and given a bottle. Being the astute 3-year-old that she is, whenever she’s browsing YouTube and tries to find a particular video, she comes to me asking for assistance. I have always loved her, without a doubt.
I Used to Take You There
by Olivia McNichols
West Lawn Avenue, Pawtucket, RI
under the hot summer sun, in the kind of mid july heat that made your skin prickle and your baby hairs curl. when five minutes felt like forever, rubber soles on burning pavement, and you wondered how far you were from overgrown grass and the bench with your name carefully carved into its seat. i used to take you here, in late august, when the sun went to sleep and the sky turned all your favorite shades of orange and red. those five minutes didn’t feel all that long anymore, with the breeze tickling your face, your too-worn shoes leading you down the familiar path home. past the salon on the corner of your street, the splash of purple paint on concrete, and the ivy climbing high along the bricks of your grandparents’ house next door. i used to take you here, in early september, after your first days of eighth grade, when you felt like you ruled the world running from floor to floor for a two minute chat with your friends. the earth had cooled ever so slightly, and you spent your afternoons laughing away with people you loved, on the bench with the chipped green paint and all your names carved into it. getting home half past eight made you feel bittersweet, but at least you knew that, under soft purple twinkle lights, you’d do it all over again tomorrow. i used to take you here, two houses down, where you swore you’d never go, having lived in the neighborhood long enough to know to be nervous about it. two stories, painted a fading, flaking blue, where you’d travel up the creaky stairs, into the room where it all would go wrong. you’d never understand why three hours later, she yelled at you the way she did standing high on the balcony spitting venom and glass below. you forgave her after two days, but you never forgot how she took the time to etch your name out of chipped green paint. i used to take you here, sometime in october when you thought you fell in love. standing on the balcony of that stupid blue house, with the trash scattered all along the front lawn. it was breezy that night, and the horizon was streaked with yellow as the sun sunk below the powerlines. denim scratched your arms when you walked around the block and your tears made your face all sticky, cheeks rosy with shame after descending the creaky stairs to get some air. when you arrived back, grass and junk back under your feet, someone else told you what he said. eight steps later you were home. i used to take you here, in the emptiness of november, when the weather chilled over, the leaves now brown and crunchy under your feet. it was some minutes past eight, and you clutched your binders close to your chest, feet carrying you up, up, up the stairwell. when you tilted your head to look up and said you wouldn’t be coming over to the blue house to sit on a worn couch in the strange, smelly room with the holes in the walls, she said that it was fine because nobody cared if you were there or not. i used to take you here, in the february gloom, to as much safety as you could get sheltered by four gray walls. buried six blankets deep, laid over the linens you were tearing holes in tossing and turning yourself to sleep. the canopy over your bed was lined with your favorite purple lights, but the batteries were long dead gone unreplaced since the warm september when they’d greet you home. instead, you started sleeping with the tv on so you wouldn’t be alone in the dark, with its fluorescent white light, and the sound turned low, so it wouldn’t be so quiet. i used to take you here, when march began to thaw, out of the room you’d locked yourself in, for millions of years or maybe it was just a few weeks. you looked so sad, leaving behind an unmade bed surrounded by wrappers and plastic bottles, dirty laundry stuffed under the bed frame. you couldn’t help but cry the day you came home finding piles of neatly folded clean clothes and a hug waiting alongside hours spent getting help tidying everything up. for the first time, you finally started to pick up scattered shards of yourself. i used to take you here, to the park you now merely drive by, on your way home from your new life. your new friends, your new opportunities, the forgiving world you created for yourself. when you come down the street, crawling along at twenty and riding shotgun, you can see the chipped green bench if you squint, and all of the overgrown grass that once tickled your ankles. when you turn the corner, past the salon, and the purple paint, you pass the faded blue house, with the trash all over the lawn, shells of people yelling and laughing in the messy backyard. you no longer bat an eye or feel a tug in your chest going by the faded blue house. i used to take you here, in a different time, to all these places, with all their meanings, yet i’m much happier now that i don’t.
by Daniel Mesivo
Smith Street, Providence, RI
Future of Cranston
by Matt Messemino
When I drive through Cranston, my home city, I see so much potential. My home is located deep in western Cranston. I am surrounded by woods. I live off a long road called Laten Knight Road. Something that bothers me about Cranston is that there are empty shops where businesses used to be and many roads that need to be fixed. We pay so much in taxes and there are things that desperately need to be done. Where does tax money go? For reference, Rhode Island is the eighth highest taxed state in the country.
In ten years, if I decide to run for Mayor, my focus will be to lower taxes and improve the conditions of the city. There is absolutely no reason why we should be paying so much money in taxes and still not be living in great conditions. Another topic that should be discussed is the need to improve the public school system. Students are being poisoned by political bias and misinformation.
There are empty lots all over the place that are for sale; nobody wants them. Businesses are leaving Rhode Island. The reason they leave is because businesses must pay so much in taxes but all they need to do is move to the next state over and pay half the amount. We need to bring businesses back and make it reasonable for them to operate.
We are also seeing crime. A simple solution would be to enforce laws. The way to do that is to keep the police force running. We need more officers to get crime under control. We must defend the police! It is crucial to run a safe society.
Politics is not only a huge problem in this state, but all over the country. Every politician campaigns on the same problems. Why do we never get these important issues solved? Nothing is ever done. I would promise to get those problems fixed as soon as possible. Politics aside, we must all agree to get things done for the city.
The Rolling Stool
by Brianna Montoya
Chestnut Street, Central Falls, RI
I still remember that day so vividly. As I stepped foot out of the house, a feeling of oddness hit me straight in the face. The sky seemed grayer than usual, the air was thick and moist, and there were no signs of life; it was just me and Chestnut Street. I tried to shake off this weird feeling, but the more I tried to ignore it, the more aware I became of my surroundings. Just ten minutes before being out in the open, me and my best friend, Valeria, had arranged to meet at her house. We never knew what we were going to do, but that’s what made playing together so exciting.
Our houses were on the same street, so it was only a minute’s walk. Valeria was already sitting on her front porch when I arrived. We exchanged hugs and immediately started to brainstorm what we were going to do. We weren’t in the mood for gymnastics, doing crafts, or making up a dance to later “impress” her mother; there just seemed to be nothing to do. And so we started to snoop in her garage. It was cluttered with tons of junk like baseballs, shovels, and even a porcelain gnome dressed in a bikini. After digging in this jungle for what seemed like hours, we found exactly what we needed: the rolling stool.
It was perfect. We decided that one would lay on their backs and the other would push the stool from the garage to the driveway. First, it was Valeria, then it was me, and we continued to do this same rotation until we figured it’d be enough. However, we were wrong to think we would be the ones to decide when we should stop. When it was my turn again, Valeria began to push and speed up. It all happened so fast. One of the wheels from the stool hit a bump on the ground causing me to fling forward right into the pavement. As my body sunk into the ground, I found myself admiring the sky for what felt like a while. I don’t know why I ever thought the sky looked gloomy, it looked rather beautiful with splashes of gray. The sky’s enchantment cleared away when I heard Valeria weeping. I was confused. I was the one who fell off the stool, yet she was the one crying.
When I got up from the hard pavement, Valeria and I started to go back and forth like a broken record. She kept apologizing and I kept reassuring her that I was fine. She signaled for me to look at my reflection in the car window. I walked over and my heart dropped. My forehead was covered in blood and bits of skin were peeling from the center. I looked like a walking zombie. At that moment, I knew I could not let Valeria see my true reaction. I did not want her to feel as guilty as she already felt – it had been an accident. So, I acted like I was fine. I told her it didn’t even hurt, which was not a lie, but I think it was because of the adrenaline numbing the pain.
We both agreed it was better for me to go home. We said our goodbyes and the moment I turned my face away from hers, my true feelings emerged on my face. Tears began to drop one after another. My breathing became uneasy from the fear that told me I was not okay. The moment I stepped back into my house, I completely broke down. The tough act I was putting up in front of my friend was gone. My parents rushed over and were as shocked as I was. They did lecture me, but also comforted me on the ride to the hospital. Although I was diagnosed with a mini concussion, it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. It turned out I could miss a week off school and stay in pajamas, what a dream come true. To this day, my blood and skin are one with the city’s ground. Who would have known that it’s possible to physically be a part of Central Falls forever, right?
A Busy Day in the Life of Andres
by Andres Morales
Smith Street, Providence, RI
Andres woke up and got ready for school. He took a quick shower because his mom had to shower too, and he only had one hour to get ready. He put his school uniform on and waited for his mom to leave. When he went outside, he was cold. Andres got into the car and his mom drove him to school; it took him a little longer than usual to get to school because there was traffic. On the way to school he kept thinking about how he didn’t want to go to school and repeat what he had done the day before. When he arrived at school, he walked to Dunkin Donuts because the school doors were not open yet. After he got his bagel, he walked back to school and he was the first one to enter. He had around forty-five minutes to eat his breakfast and finish his homework. He was extremely tired, to the point that he was half awake in his first class because he went to sleep late last night due to doing his homework. He couldn’t concentrate and he forgot everything the teacher said. The whole class he was hoping that Mr. Esau didn’t call on him to answer a math question. After break he woke up, and he went on with his school day. Having his friends by his side helped him stay awake throughout the day. Andres rushed out of the school when it was time to leave because he had to get home as soon as possible to have time to change and eat. When his mom picked him up, he went home, and got ready for Driver’s Ed. After he changed, he ate pizza quickly. When he arrived at Driver’s Ed, he saw the other students taking out their homework. He panicked for a second because he forgot that he had to do an assignment. He was worried he would get in trouble for not doing it, but he quickly got to work, and he was able to finish his homework on time. His writing piece didn’t look as good as the one he had already done but it was good enough to be passed to the teacher. After four hours of listening and reading in Driver’s Ed, he was exhausted and went home. He showered and started doing his homework. It was already late at night, and he was so tired. He decided to put his mental health first and go to sleep. He wasn’t able to do his English homework, so he did it the next morning when he got to school. He was lucky enough to finish a couple minutes before class started.
by Jaylene Moreno
Roger Williams Park and Zoo, Providence, RI
If you lived in my city, you would notice the statehouse.
If you lived in my city, you would notice the ice cream truck coming at three p.m. every day.
In my city, people don’t talk enough about climate change.
If I were mayor of my city I would fight for climate change, a cleaner environment, and no violence. With all of those things fixed, my city could be a landmark for the U.S.! Travelers would love to visit here, and the city would be cleaner. Since there would be no violence, my city would be one of the safest in the whole state. It would also be pretty nice to see a cleaner river that runs through the city.
The place that I am happiest smells like my mom’s cooking.
The place that I am happiest sounds like raindrops falling and birds chirping. The place that I am the happiest tastes like candy.
The place that I am the happiest feels like home.
My favorite place in the city is Roger Williams Park and Zoo.
My first memory of this place is that it was my cousin’s birthday, and all of my family went there. My brothers were racing and me and my cousin were throwing rocks into the lake. After playing we all had a picnic with very delicious food. The food smelled good, the picnic blanket was very soft, the nice summer breeze blew through my hair and the water moved very calmly. It was a great time down there at the park. I was feeling very happy with all of those summer colors that I saw all around me.
To get to this location from the clubhouse is not that easy but it is a fun adventure. You have to get there by car to make it easier. You will pass by streets that sometimes have traffic and then go onto a highway where all of those fast cars go through. As you are on the highway, you will pass by some stores and even a small lake. When you get off the highway, you will turn left and then right to enter the park. It is a huge park so you can park anywhere and start your adventure as you get out of your car.
On my cousin’s birthday, my parents just took us to the temple of music. It is one of my favorite places because as you get out of your car, you see a big hill. I like to have fun so me and my cousin ran down the hill to the steps of the temple. The food that my dad brought was Chinese food and it was very good. As I was eating, I saw all of these summer colors: the blue of the sky and also the water since it reflects. I even saw some shades of green around the trees and the grass. I also saw the white of the fluffy clouds and the temple of music. The temple is very majestic because as you look at it you feel like you are in ancient times and it is just beautiful.
Holden and Me
by Meagan Mungovan
I first fell in love with Holden Caulfield after devouring The Catcher in the Rye in my 9th grade English class. At fifteen years old, I found Holden’s story profoundly moving; I admired his deep perception of human nature, his intense indictment of society, and his desperate search for human connection. After a recent social upheaval that rendered me with an acute fear of going to school, it was impossible not to empathize with his character. I saw Holden’s struggles as my own, finding it next to impossible to navigate the rocky waters of high school and the society that lay just beyond. Amid the social chaos I was planted in, that lay beyond the four walls of my English classroom, I found comfort in listening to this fictional character relay the tragic events of his life that led him to his breaking point. I, too, felt that society had failed me, and the people who had caused the constant anxiety in my life were nothing more than phony and inauthentic. By the book’s last few pages, I was practically ready to marry this man. Never had I read a book that portrayed a character’s story so perfectly in line with my life.
Alas, The Catcher in the Rye unit in English 9 eventually ended, and I stuffed Holden into the back of my closet. The social upheaval continued, and the anxiety and depression crept into my everyday life to wreak havoc. I felt more like Holden than ever as I neared my breaking point. Finally, my parents and I made the decision for me to transfer schools. I was highly skeptical that this time would be any different than the last. Surely, I would meet the same kind of phony people, failing to connect with each one I would meet.
Nevertheless, the following fall I found myself on the steps of a new school—a new society. I felt as though I was walking on eggshells to not disrupt the flow of the students, most of whom had spent years together already. As the weeks and months passed, the searing anxiety that ripped through my body every day became less and less. As my confidence grew, I began to insert myself into things that I valued. I joined the student council and threw myself into helping to create school events and bolster student pride. Perhaps the most impactful, I joined the swim team where I found the most compassionate individuals I have ever met. Rather than accepting defeat from the chaos that surrounds me, I took control over those I surrounded myself with.
It was a few years before I decided to pick up The Catcher in the Rye again. As I dove into Holden’s story, nostalgia slowly turned into empathy the farther I read. I no longer related to his ill-fated character so much as I wanted to comfort him. With three years of experiences such as Holden’s behind me, I could now separate myself from his lonely and distraught character to see the lonely and distraught ninth grade student I had been just three years prior. However, in the end, I landed in a flourishing environment and a new perception of those around me. Holden landed in a hospital, sick with Tuberculosis. So while I still admire the book The Catcher in the Rye, I see the novel now as a reflection of how I have grown in the last few years. Rather than allowing myself to reach a breaking point, I took a risk and changed my narrative; that is what separates Holden’s character from my own.
by Sula Ninigret
My name is Sula, I am thirteen years old and I’m afraid that my belief in magic is beginning to fade away. My mom once told me that when she and my dad were trying to pick out a playset for the backyard, she refused to get a cheap one, one that would not last me more than a few years. Everyone told her that kids stopped playing on their playsets by the age of seven. They said it was a waste of money getting a long lasting one. She knew better. She knew that it would become a place of my own, a place that would hold me through a thousand changes. And it has. I look at my playset now and am transported to a land of memories. A timeline of loops and twists, of good and bad times, of scrapes and songs and laughter. Of days when the world felt so small and days where limits were a thing unknown. But as the timeline straightens out and the memories shift into place, a pattern becomes painstakingly clear. Swings that used to be horses or wings became the only place where a daughter could see her father during a pandemic. Where hard truths were spoken. Where tears were shed. A slide that always had water on the bottom used to be the challenge of, ”Can you slide down without getting your bum wet?”, a place where special potions were brewed out of dirt and wood chips and flowers. That slide is now a place where on sunny days, a girl will sometimes lie, hoping the warm burn on bare skin will cease the cold, rancid thoughts looping in her mind. A treehouse on stilts had once been so many things–a house, a time machine, a boat, a spaceship. But now? Now it is a place where two friends will sit on opposite sides of the structure, because six feet is as close as they can get. It is a place where a girl will sit alone on occasion, composing sad, angry songs about all the bitter things the world has thrown at her, forgetting the lyrics as soon as they leave her lips. A rope ladder that swings when you move used to be a ship’s mast, a vine, a dream of reaching the top and ringing the chimes that hang above, even when your small body is just big enough to get from one rung to the next. Now it is just rope and wood. The rope is frayed, and the whole thing is speckled with mildew. The chimes are broken and all that is left of them is the zip tie that held them there. You will seldom see the girl or her friends climbing it now. There is a trampoline, a newer addition, but even it has collected enough memories to see the girl’s transformation. Whereas the girl and her friends used to play imaginary games, games where fantastical things were commonplace. Where the laws of gravity did not define, and powers over water and fire were used to vanquish evildoers. Now what the trampoline knows is the loud music the girl puts on before jumping as hard as she can, imagining that she is landing on the faces of all the people who have hurt her. When she cannot go any further, she collapses, staring at nothing and letting the weight of her thoughts overtake her. The thing is, though, sometimes the girl will swing on the swings and laugh, still feeling like she can touch the sky. On cold snowy winters, she and her dog will slide down the slide, pushing off the snow that has collected there as they go. On hot sunny days the girl and her friends will escape to the treehouse, basking in its shade. They will play truth or dare, laughing all the while. When the girl climbs onto the trampoline, it won’t always be the faces of the people who broke her that will fill her mind, it will also be the faces of the people who made her whole again. When she begins to bounce it will be those faces she keeps in her mind, and she will feel free…I will feel free… When I was younger, I used to think that the world was made of magic. I used to let my mind conjure up a story, fanciful or no, and it would become the truth. I think that’s what made the world seem magical. Anything could be real, if you just believed it enough. And that belief, that’s what tinted my world. It’s what made the impossible possible, what turned dreams into reality. Now that tint has slowly started to fade, or maybe been replaced by a new one, but either way, my reality is becoming sharper. Silhouettes that used to be nothing more than blurs have become hard lines, soft rolling planes have shifted to mountains and canyons. But even now, if I squint my eyes just right, I can see the world the way I used to. Full of good. Full of magic. And to me, that’s all I really need. The world isn’t what I thought it was when I was younger. The edges are sharper, the terrain is steeper, but the magic is there. It is not what it once was to me, but it is there. It is in every laugh and smile. It is in the hand that reaches to help you when you fall. It is the arms that hold you when you cry. It is a thread woven so securely into the tapestry of life, that you couldn’t take it away if you tried. My grasp of magic is constantly changing. At times I may even stop believing in it entirely. But, magic itself never leaves. And it never will.
When I Lived There
by Olivia Normadin
Before I was born, my ancestors thought it was a good idea to move to the United States, and even better they chose Rhode Island as the state they would move to. Rhode Island is, as everyone knows, the smallest state out of all 50 of them. Aside from it being the smallest state, it is composed of many different cities. There are 39 cities in Rhode Island and that gives us a population of 1.096 million as of 2021. Rhode Island is famously known for its many beaches and being separated into many different cities. Burrillville has a lot of amazing attractions. The people of Burrillville are very spirited when it comes to holidays, which has always mesmerized me as a child, and the people of the community are very close-knit and supportive of one another.
Burrillville is composed of many different villages– the one I am from is Harrisville. Harrisville has many good attractions as well as events that can be done with the company of family and friends. One event that happens in Burrillville is the annual street decorating show. Along the main streets of Burrillville all the way to Pascoag, they set lights up along the electrical poles and they have a big car show with Mr. and Mrs. Claus on top of a firetruck. There are a bunch of Christmas songs playing and lots of activities/vendors along the sidewalks. There are lots of places that attract tons of attention and tourists—a few of them are: The Conjuring House, Spring Lake Beach, and The Farmer’s Market. The Conjuring House is one of the main attractions because you can stay the night to experience the thrill of staying in a real life haunted house! Spring Lake Beach is a small body of sand and water but what makes it so special is the arcade that is there. The arcade has been there since 1920 and has brought much joy to the children and adults that visit. The farmer’s market is a well-known attraction because of all the fresh produce and knickknacks that you can buy. The farmers market was, on some occasions, paired with a concert in the park from local musicians.
The people of Burrillville are very close-knit with each other. An experience I had when I was younger has led me to think this. My old dog Maggie used to love to run away from the house because she just loved to explore and meet new people. She ran to the elementary school that was down the street and actually went inside the playground area. There were kids and adults there and when my dad and I got to the school to pick her up everyone was playing with and petting her. Normally, people would either call animal control or take the dog home to keep for themselves, but instead of doing that, the people just played with her until we got there. I think they knew that the dog was Maggie, but it still was nice that they didn’t call animal control.
I am writing about a long time ago, so there are many reasons for people to disagree with my views on Burrillville because now it is almost completely different. Overall, Burrillville is a place of importance to me because I have made so many memories that I will cherish forever. Even when I’m older and move out of Rhode Island, I will always remember the things from Burrillville. It is a place that has brought me many good times and it will continue to do so.
Best Time Best Place
by Janice O’Donnell
It was the best of times and the best of places to be a kid. There was an apple tree in the backyard that was perfect for climbing and provided hard, sour little fruits that were inedible but great for throwing at your enemies.
It was Warwick, Rhode Island in the 1950s. The Community College of Rhode Island is there now, on land bordered by Interstate 295, Route 2 and Walmart. But then there were no child-proof borders, and we owned that land.
Some low posts and inconsequential wire separated our yard from the hayfield. By August the hay was taller than we were. We invented a version of hide and seek. If you were IT you’d stand at the apple tree, cover your eyes and count “5, 10,15, 20…” while the other kids scattered through the hay field and then you’d call out “One hundred! Ready or not, here I come!” and uncover your eyes and there was not a kid to be seen anywhere. They’d all plopped down into the hay and you ran, trying to flush them out, and they popped up and ran toward the tree calling, “One two three, my goal!” and you tried to tag someone who then became IT. But some days there were no cousins or neighbors (there weren’t many neighbors) around and then I’d head across the field to my favorite place, the pine grove – dark and cool and green on the hottest of summer days with trees to climb, soft needles to lie on and secret places to explore.
On the other side of the yard a path, beaten by us, and generations of kids, led through the woods to the creek where we’d catch frogs, float stick boats and pick skunk cabbage to put in our sister’s bed. In the winter the creek froze over and the path, which led downhill, was covered with snow. We steered our sleds down the path, around oaks and pines and across the creek and, as often as not, ended up in a snow mound or thrown from our sleds by a jutting tree root.
The Community College is a good thing, no doubt. The Interstate highways have enabled goods and people to reach their destinations much more efficiently. And certainly there were dangers in our unfettered roaming and unsupervised free play. Still, it really was the best time and best place to be a kid.
My Brother from Another Mother
by Ronney Okley
Providence Place Mall, Providence, Ri
This story is about the time when me and my best friend, who is like a brother to me, went to the mall and we had a great time. So, at this time I’ve only known Steph for six months, but I had already felt a connection with him, and I felt he and I had some unlocked potential. Realistically, I had never had a real male friend like him since maybe 6th grade, so for him to want to spend time with me outside really meant a lot to me. At first, I didn’t really feel like I was going to be friends with Steph but when we had a little interaction during freshman orientation, I started to believe that he was going to be with me until death. First, we went to the movie theater and watched the movie Uncharted, which was terrible. Afterwards, we got some Chinese food, Auntie Anne’s and Dairy Queen’s. I really enjoyed the thought that we weren’t just school friends, we actually hung out outside with no regrets. So, to me, this moment brought us from friends to brothers.
I Hate Odd Numbers
by Morgan Perry
I hate odd numbers. For the longest time they have always made me feel uneasy or anxious. One, the number of parents I had growing up. Three, the number of siblings born after me. Five, the age I was when my grandfather took me to the daddy-daughter dance. Seven, the age I realized everyone had a dad. Nine, the age I started asking questions. Thirteen, the age I started making jokes. Fifteen, the age I met my dad. Seventeen, the age I finally understood.
When I was younger people always used to ask me, “Morgan, where’s your dad?” or “Morgan, do you have a dad?” At the age of five I didn’t really know where or who he was. My response would always be, “Yeah, he’s an astronaut and he’s in space so he’s never here,” or “No, he died.” I made excuses for why he wasn’t in my life when the truth was, he had left my mom just before I was born without really giving her a valid reason. He told my mom everything she wanted to hear before I was born. “This is our baby, our responsibility.” However, when it was time for my mom to go into labor she called, no response. And she called again. Do you think she got a call back? No. And when I was about one, he would call and ask my mom how things were. So much for our baby.
I always felt left out by not having him around. Going to the father-daughter dances with my Papa or uncle. Or in school when we made gifts for Father’s Day, I would make a card for my mom because she had to be both my Mother and my Father.
Fast forward, November 4th, 2020, I was finally able to meet this man who was supposed to be my dad. The man who was supposed to protect me while I was growing up. The man who was supposed to tell boys to watch out or tuck me back into bed on a night when I had a nightmare and, most importantly, be there for me. But in reality, he was a stranger I was having lunch with at Panera. I sat there with him. I listened to him come up with all the excuses for why he wasn’t there for me. He told me how I had other siblings, who were younger than me. He was able to take care of my 13-year-old brother, my 9-year sister, and his girlfriend who was 7 months pregnant. But he wasn’t able to take care of me. I was heartbroken, obviously. And after all that, I thought maybe I would have been better off not knowing him. Why did I push so hard to meet him? And just for me to find out that he was able to live without me. This was hard for me to accept due to the fact that I thought that I needed a dad.
It’s crazy that I thought my whole life I had missed out on this big piece of my identity, this big piece of who I was supposed to be. When really, I realized the day I walked out of that Panera that the piece of me I was so desperate for, wasn’t even worth it. Not having a father doesn’t make me “incomplete.” I know now that life has given me so much more than what I need, and so much more than one person that I’m supposed to call “dad.” I spent a significant part of my life trying to “find what makes me whole” because I believed that not having a dad left an empty space that I had to fill. This led to me craving attention, care, and love in all the wrong places, but now I know there was no reason to feel incomplete because all along I was whole.
by Alyssa Pierre
Saint Patrick Parish was the church that opened my heart. It has different places to meditate and pray. Whenever I am by myself, it feels like God is with me waiting for me to start a conversation with him about my day, my problems, or something that made me happy. This church is a happy place for me. I always go there for the Bilingual Mass or English mass. There is usually delicious food such as atole, rice, chicken, and patties whenever it’s Christmas or other holidays. When I tried them, it felt like I was in heaven because of how good they are. Ever since the coronavirus affected my family, we stopped going to church because we were scared that we would catch it from people because we didn’t know who could spread it. My family and I would do online Mass, but I tend to fall asleep during it because I am sitting in front of a screen for almost an hour. I felt like I was in prison, isolated because the cases were so high, and I did not want to risk it. I did find ways to keep my connection with my faith. I would read bible verses my phone sends me, pray, and thank God for everything he has done for me. After the pandemic started slowing down, I felt ready to go back to church. I missed Saint Patrick Parish so much. That is a second home to me, where I can talk to God privately. I don’t feel distracted like I am when I pray at home. My house is small and there is noise often, but at church I love hearing birds chirp and hearing the pond sounds. I felt my problems and my stress sucked out from my body.
My Second Home on Stage
by Bridget Pouliot
Providence Performing Arts Center, Providence, RI
On July 18th, 2022, I will get up at 7 a.m. That morning, I will shower, put on a shirt and a pair of black leggings, and have my mom put my hair in two braids. I will bounce out to my mom’s car, stomach filled with anxiety and excitement and a bunch of overwhelming emotions as I excitedly anticipate how the day will go. That morning, I will return to the Providence Performing Arts Center and participate in the Next Stop Broadway summer camp for my third year; I’ll be back where I feel like I belong.
Next Stop Broadway is a program run by PPAC every summer. It’s a five-day intensive program where the students learn key songs and scenes for a musical from the Golden Age of Broadway. At the conclusion of the week, the cast performs the selections for their friends and family at a Friday evening showcase on the PPAC stage.
Personally, I have participated in Next Stop Broadway twice before (in the summer of 2019 and the summer of 2021). I’m thrilled to be going back to Next Stop Broadway this year and have been anxious to go since I found out I was accepted in May.
I can’t wait to be back on stage with an amazing group of people who love musical theatre as much as I do. I can’t wait for the sense of belonging that performing with all of my friends on the PPAC stage gives me, and for all of the great memories we’ll make and laughs we’ll have learning our dances together.
When I saw my first show at PPAC, I never thought I’d perform on the PPAC stage. I never thought I’d even step foot on the stage that I’d seen so many people I look up to perform on. But, seeing that show in January 2016 changed my life, for good. On January 3rd, 2016, my mom took my sister, my aunt, my grandmother, and eight-year-old me to PPAC to see Annie as an early birthday present. I don’t think my mom knew that taking me to see my first Broadway musical would change me so much, but it did.
I came out of PPAC literally bouncing with excitement. I loved it. I had never seen a musical before. I’d seen movies in a theater before, but musicals were so different. Eight-year-old me convinced my mom to buy a CD with the songs from Annie on it and we listened to it for months and months on end. I loved singing my heart out to “Tomorrow” and “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” for years after seeing it. I saw six other musicals at PPAC in the years following, and even a few musicals in other cities like Boston, Worcester, Hartford, and New York. However, Annie and PPAC will always hold a special place in my heart and it’s always fun to go back and listen to Annie again.
My first year at Next Stop Broadway was eventful, to say the least. The first time I stepped on the PPAC stage, I was in awe. Looking out at the audience I’ve sat in so many times before is such an exhilarating feeling and performing for my family on that stage left me grinning for hours after. I met so many friends, learned so many valuable lessons, and, even three years later, I still perform the choreography from my show in the backyard. But the thing that’s stuck with me the most from my first year at Next Stop Broadway and the reason I’m so excited to go back every year is that I feel like I belong; people there like the same things I do and I’m wanted there. No one judged me for being confused; they helped me with what was confusing me. No one judged me for struggling with hearing; they repeated stuff for me and let me sit in the front.
The laughs, the panic we felt when it was five minutes until showtime and we were in the wrong costumes, and the hugs and squeals and laughs my group leader and I shared when the show ended in 2019 and she finally pronounced my last name correctly is something I’ll never forget. And, as July 18th nears, all of the memories and feelings from my past two years at Next Stop Broadway have returned, and the desire to be back on the PPAC stage has come with it.
On January 3rd, 2016, I was at PPAC, practically beaming as I waited for Annie to start. Almost six months and six years later, on July 18th, 2022, I’ll be back at PPAC. However, I’ll be beaming for a different reason. I’ll be beaming as I wait for Next Stop Broadway to begin and to feel like I belong again.
Home on a Road
by Inesh Rai
East Greenwich, RI
As I look straight ahead, I see the unique juxtaposition of historical buildings covered in vines beside more modern eateries. The bustling crowd walking in and out of cafes and stores keeps me entertained as I am completing my daily run through the safe haven of East Greenwich – Main Street.
As the sun is setting, I slow down my pace to take in the whole experience awaiting me. I start by passing two couples chatting, their large, fluffy dogs nuzzling up to each other outside the door to the local dog bakery. The smell of dog treats wafts faintly but is not comparable to the sweet scent from Silverspoon, the best cupcake shop. The French-style bakery entices me to step inside and see the painted Eiffel Tower on the wall with a delicious triple chocolate Ghirardelli cupcake in hand. This daydream is quickly disrupted as I pass by the shop and get distracted by the large crowd making their way to Main Street Coffee. The laughter and excitement of getting a coffee concoction is palpable. This brings me to my favorite part about Main Street – the community and support for local businesses. One can quickly become a regular at these cafes and stores, which create a friendly environment for long-lasting relationships.
One turn away from Main Street is the road that leads down to the marina. I decide to run down there before continuing my run down this lively street. As I approach the marina, the sight of sailboats takes over and the salty air gives me the feel of summer. The foliage around this area and the view across the water make me especially appreciative of the beauty of Rhode Island. I find myself running across the pebbles of the parking lot before turning back around to Main Street, but not before glancing up at the restaurant Blu on the Water, which overlooks the marina as the name suggests. The fairy lights strung along the wooden patio add to the ambiance of a nice waterfront dinner.
Turning back onto Main Street, I move further along, passing by boutiques and Hotel Greenwich, where they are having their weekly karaoke night. The recurring theme of community stands out to me as I observe small groups introducing each other and walking in, excited for the night that awaits. I then see the long line of sticky handed children and people of all ages, awaiting their summer ice-cream treat. Clementine’s, the ice cream shop loved by many, has a constant flow of customers and I must say, the ice cream speaks for itself.
Growing up going to Main Street with my family, I have come to appreciate this hidden gem. It is the comfort of this street that draws me to it. Furthermore, the beautiful home-like buildings and views make the trip worth it every time. Main Street is a place for amazing coffee, scrumptious dinners and desserts, special handmade items, and most importantly, a home for those who wish.
A Runner’s Route
by Emmitt Rattey
The clock strikes 2:30. The floodgates open as exhausted students burst out of classrooms, marking the end of another day of education. The sounds of lockers slamming and children laughing fill the corridors as fresh air sweeps through the doors from the influx of people rushing outside, embarking on their journey home. However, not everyone is flooding towards the exit. Instead, others haul several bags down the tiled hallway and into the locker room. One of those people happens to be me.
As I enter the locker room, I am immediately greeted by the chaos that erupts within the vicinity. Boisterous communication emerges from the athletes with school materials and shoes laying everywhere. I maneuver around the mayhem and approach my locker where I change into proper clothing for the run. As I leave the room, I guide myself down the athletic hallway towards the foyer. Looking to my left and right, I notice plaques of previous state champion cross country and track and field teams. A cluster of young men huddled around one another with bright smiles on their faces and medals clinging to their emerald-green jerseys, forever part of the Hendricken legacy. One day I aspire to have my name engraved on the wall and forge my own path in history.
I step into the foyer and see a few of my teammates already present, stretching out with leg swings and sitting off to the side. I stare off at the sky above, acknowledging today’s weather. No matter what challenges the forecast presents, you can always count on the Hendricken Hawks being outside and running. Whether that means extreme heat and humidity, or a frosty snowstorm mixed with frigid temperatures. Gusty winds or torrential rainfall prove to make no difference. Today, the sun shines above through the pale blue sky, indicating ideal weather for the run. After a brief talk from our coaches, we make our way down to the “Hawk Country” arch, where the sound of watches clicking signifies the beginning of our run through Warwick, Rhode Island.
Each run introduces something new and exciting. As the run commences down the paved pathway, we pass the pavilion and athletic fields while eyeing other athletes as they attack the day of training with dedication and energy. Voices coincide with the rhythmic steps of our feet on the asphalt, and the stampede barrels through a wooded area. Twigs and leaves crunch beneath our feet and we hurdle a low-hanging branch, blazing out the end onto West Shore Road. Running at a Warwick-based school, I have had the privilege of exploring the greatness of the city. Particularly, it has been the small details of the area that have captured my attention, such as the row of modernized condominiums on our left as we merge into a smooth, comfortable pace. On our right, cars and trucks whisk by at great speeds, with some giving us a quick honk while others simply glance. People along the road engage in chats with their peers, and parents stand along the edge of neighborhood roads, anxiously awaiting the moment their child hops off the incoming school bus.
While great memories have been established on this road, it merely marks the beginning of our run. Hustling up the infamous hill on Leroy Avenue, each stride slowly pushes me to my limit. Heavy breaths from my teammates and I escape our mouths on the push up the slope, where some turn the paced jog into a competitive race. With the apex of the mountain in sight, my quadriceps begin to ignite with pain, which is soon relieved as the uphill turns into a sharp downhill. Pursuing the middle of the run, we arrive at the threshold stopping point, welcomed by our coach refueling us for the remaining half. The moment provides a minute of awe. Gazing along the neighborhood entrance, I spot an intricately carved sign with the inscription of “Anglesea” written with great calligraphy. Further ahead among the lavish trees lay the Aldrich Mansions, with their ancient buildings providing a brief history lesson for the team.
Running in the Ocean State, one has to mention the great waters surrounding the area. Some runs may propose a tempo run along Conimicut Point. As my teammates and I race along the flat course on a five-kilometer workout, we make a sharp turn near the water, with our trainers finding grip atop the sand before kicking it behind us and rushing off down the road. The water to the right appears stunning with the sun slowly setting in the distance.
Finally, one cannot discuss Warwick without mentioning Rocky Point. As the team hustles along the hills on mile repeats, the remnants of the past amusement park hang overhead. Green and gold shirts continue off of the grass and onto the concrete, straight through the rusty arch in the process. The breeze of the vast ocean looms on our right, with people and birds crowding the area, watching the crisp, blue waves flow calmly through the water before coming ashore. All of the memories that have been made on the streets of Warwick hold a special place in my heart. Although I have only been running as a Hawk for a year, I can only imagine what great things are to come in the place I now call home.
by Sienna Ray
I don’t think I’ve ever been able to call it my home.
Where I grew up…
Where I live…
Where my house is…
Never my home.
The town itself is very small. Small enough that everyone knows everyone, and even if you don’t (which is rare) you know people in common.
There is the center of the town. In the center is,
the school. The schools.
The library across from the school.
The post office.
Every store you walk into someone will know you.
Maybe that’s not a good thing.
I walk into my local supermarket.
That’s the mom of the guy who…
That’s the girls that used to…
That’s the teacher that never…
That’s the person that…
I wish I could finish those sentences.
I’m not strong enough.
See, they beat me down to a point where I am not strong enough to write down what the small town did to me.
What it does to me.
All I can write about is the post office.
I hate it when my father brings me there, I always hide my head in his car. It is a small, white building. I don’t think it has ever looked different in my life.
The school. The schools.
I walked in there again. I felt bigger. I only ever saw it from down there. The walls look so smaller than they did then. If only I was big enough to withstand those walls when I had to.
I walk in there and I just want to get out. It feels like time slows. I never liked that feeling. Mossy brown. Maybe even shit-brown colored walls. Annoyingly red velvet railings. Barf-green and pee-yellow rug. The only part I like is the cool-shaped cake pans you can borrow. Or the turtle I always felt bad for. Never a clean tank. The color of the water almost matched the carpet. I wanted to get the turtle out of that tank. It reminded me of how much I wanted to get out of this town. Books nobody wants to read. I always wanted to get out of there.
I go back there. Why do I purposely traumatize myself all over again? The tree. The one I would sit alone at. The monkey bars that would blister my hands and I would fall off of. The…
I don’t think I want to finish the sentence.
by Emily Reed
Norman Bird Sanctuary, Middletown, RI
The Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown is the kind of place where you go, look around and naturally lose all your problems. The rocks in the parking lot remind me that the land used to be a salt marsh. When you turn into the parking lot you go through a shield that is the entrance to another dimension. A dimension where the big world’s problems seem like they could just be solved if everyone got a little fresh air and smelled the flowers. I have a theory that the reason the world is full of problems is that the people put in charge of solving them spend their day in traffic breathing in exhaust instead of fresh, tree-filled air. Down the hill, we go by the pond with lily pads and fish, past the charming cottage with vines and flowers claiming their territory. My nature heart is screaming!
I am overwhelmed by all the nature. The flowers and grasses all play a part in a never-ending animal world movie. Here, a birch tree stands tall with a tree tumor on one of its limbs. Sadly that tree will not be there for long. Over there is a lion’s mane mushroom. I jump at the opportunity to take a picture of the unique organism.
“Oh, that’s nothing,” says an intruding woman, “let’s just keep moving, you’re holding up the group.” I look at the long, spongy, tendrils that make up the fungi one last time and move ahead.
As we continue walking, I can’t help but notice the non-native plant species privet overthrowing the native plant species so much so that instead of a walk through nature it looks like we are walking down Bellevue Avenue where the mansions are. Privet was brought over by the English and never left. We arrive at the Yew tree forest. Who would have thought that a forest with as much magical feeling as Narnia would be here in the middle of Rhode Island? The trees are warped in a way that makes them seem like they have weathered many storms and can stand the test of time. But Yew trees also seem like they are the trees that fairies and children play nearby. They remind me of the poem “The Stolen Child” by W.B. Yeats. The fairies take the children away to protect them from the scary troubled world. The poem doesn’t mention where they take them, but I imagine that they come to a place like the Yew tree forest. With its strong bark used by deer to scratch away the itchy velvet coating on their antlers, the safe feeling that comes with being surrounded by trees, all the animals looking out for each other, and the shade that Yew tree branches create, it would be a very animal kingdom-like home.
Past the Yew tree forest we go, leaving the fairies, and deer, and maybe even some elves behind. Crunch, crunch go the dead dry leaves, reminding me of the changing seasons. We come upon the pond, lily pads galore, and mallard ducks quacking away, trying to woo their women. We stop for a moment and stand as still as can be. Feeling the light breeze, and in turn the swaying of the trees and rustling of the leaves. I watch as the moving ducks create a ripple in the water. So peaceful. I think humans underestimate the complexity of the beings that inhabit nature. The ducks may seem like they are peacefully wading in the water, but they are constantly on guard and watching for predators. Suddenly a quacking spat occurs. Overhead a sole Heron flies, migrating to its winter home. That explains it. We stop to watch the great bird soar over with grace in its wings and head held up high, as if to say to the onlookers that there is a reason it is leaving so late in the season. We walk on the bridge looking down at the runoff from the nearby farms that use fertilizer. We pass by lichen-covered trees. Knowing that the tree and the lichen have a symbiotic relationship, I smile. Soon we begin to see rocks popping up that have one side that looks like it has been serrated by a very sharp carving knife. Believe it or not, this is natural. We make the long, tedious trek to the top of the big rock that overlooks the beach. From here you can see St. George’s church-like stature and the big house on the hill that is now a restaurant. You can see the surfers getting the last surf of the season. You can see people on the roofs of their cars admiring the golden, pink sunset. I look around, close my eyes, take a deep breath, and let the clean sea air into my lungs. I hear the cars passing by, the seagulls communicating, and the seagrass rustling. This is my sanctuary.
by Johnny Rodriguez
Great Road, Lincoln, RI
My memory is vague of what used to be pleasant and joyful memories. The sun uses all its heat to warm up the green grass field; the sky is as blue as Neptune’s mixture of hydrogen, helium, and methane. The shade is as dark as the ant tunnels under the hot dirt. The white mushrooms with soft blades of grass under, indicating the right time of year. The weather wasn’t always perfect though, sometimes it would rain. On those days, we stayed inside and played games. Those were just as enjoyable as the days outside because everyone had fun. Many games were played, and it was fun because everyone was together with each other basically. Outside were mostly sporty games. Many different things could be played. At the time it was like a dream that could never end. So many different things that could happen. But it definitely couldn’t stay the same. Not until I left. Of course, it did end, but I couldn’t believe it until I changed schools. Every time I think about it, it becomes like a memory, it gives me the same feelings I got before, and I feel joyful, energetic, happy. But it’s like a knife. The more slices you make with the knife, the duller the blade gets. So for now, I can’t think about it, not until I can find a way for the feeling to last forever. Maybe that’s asking for too much, but it never hurts to try.
by Rosa Rodriguez
Manton Avenue, Providence, RI
If you lived in my city, you would see lots of amazing neighborhoods with kind people. If you lived on my street, you’d notice a plaza where you’d go shopping.
In my city, they don’t talk enough about how nice people are, because they like to judge people without knowing how that person can help make a big change with just a little.
If I were mayor of my city, I would fight to stop violence.
My favorite place in the city is my room because I get to watch shows with my little brother and play. My room has two beds since I share it with my niece. We have a wardrobe and a closet. My sheets are blue and gray. I listen to my music. When I look around, I see a painting of a unicorn as if it was done by a professional.
Directions from the MAP Clubhouse:
Go to the right. Turn left. Go down the hill. Turn right until you see a restaurant that is orange, called Briana’s. Cross Cutler Street. Go straight and turn right until you see a yellow house next to a Chinese food restaurant.
I like to do my homework in my bedroom at night when I know that everyone is in their bedrooms so that I can put both my AirPods in. I like to sit and think after finishing my work about some of my future decisions. I overthink about changes I want to do for the future. I’d rather get in touch with my goals and not with toxic people that will try to change my mind.
During the pandemic, I spent most of the time in my house, in the living room watching tv and hanging out with the members of my household. I also learned new things with them.
I’m looking forward to meeting my goals for a better future. I say this because I want to give a nice life to my little brother, who will need me a lot.
The place I feel happiest is the park. The place I feel happiest smells like nature. Just breathing a little, I can smell the flowers as if they were on me. Also, it’s like there is every kind of plant surrounding me.
The place I feel happiest sounds like birds chirping. The place I feel happiest feels like a break from stressing about things.
A Place to Be
by Gabriella Rojas
Roger Williams Park, Providence, RI
I got invited out to Roger Williams Park to hang out with my friend Angel. He wanted to get out of the house on a beautiful sunny day, so that is what we did. We were on our way to the park when I noticed we were going out a little late. As we were on our way, I noticed the sunset in front of us. It was pink and orange and had a tint of purple. It was the most beautiful sunset I had seen in a while. As we arrived, I noticed there were a lot of people there like there was an event happening. It was a long walk from where our car was, but when we finally got there it was all worth the wait.
You walk closer to the kids’ park, and you see all these different kinds of food trucks. One for chocolate covered strawberries, pizza, tacos, burgers, etc. The pictures on all the food trucks had all different kinds of exaggerated photos, but that is what made me want it even more. Angel and I got chocolate covered strawberries and shared a cheese pizza. Let me tell you, they were the best strawberries I have had in a long time. The environment around us was very beautiful. You can see everyone smiling and enjoying their time with their families. Too bad the food trucks only come out on Fridays though. I would go every day if I could. When we were about to leave, we saw Del’s Lemonade right outside. How could you pass up on the watermelon flavor? It’s way better than the original, but that is just my opinion. As we were eating the ice cream, we saw this cat just walking along. It was a beautiful black cat with the brightest green eyes. I wanted to take him home, but Angel would not let me. I said bye to the cat and went home after having a wonderful day. If you ever get the chance to go to Roger Williams Park, go on a Friday to the food trucks. You won’t regret it.
by Jordan Scriven
In a garden at a home, the flowers smile under the sun Their stems tie them down to the earth, holding up sweet petals I am a sweet pink flower, with a sweet strong scent People walk by and say I’m a sight for sore eyes I am young and newly bloomed Sweeter than the others It is fun to be sweet It is fun to be blossomed He ran through the garden The very garden that I lived in He stopped at my stem and bent down to smell me He smiled at my sweet scent and put his hands on my petals And with a quick snip of his scissors He picked me right from my garden bed He took off my leaves He trimmed my stem He picked off my thorns He placed me in a prison To drown in a vase with dirty water He smelled my sweet scent whenever he walked by But I didn’t feel so sweet I am no longer a pretty pink flower I am not sweet nor am I blossomed I am overgrown and bloomed too fast I am bitter smelling, covered in thorns I want to be a dandelion Never picked, never smelled, never plucked Dandelions get to live with the others But the sweet pink flowers, people can’t help to touch
by Caesar Silva
Fellini’s, Wickenden Street, Providence, RI
I am going to be talking about Fellini’s pizza, to be exact, the one in Fox Point on Wickenden street. The pizza there is so good yet expensive. I went there one time with my dad and I fell in love; it’s a lot for a kid to eat but it’s so good. It’s the taste of real pizza, not that microwaveable cardboard with plastic on it. That place has so many memories. When I was younger I only got to spend a lot of time with my mom, and my dad was always at work, but now that he makes time for me and my sister, we get to bond a lot more than I got to as a kid. We got to bond a lot more than ever. Then my sister became an attention hog. Me and my dad barely got to hang out before my sister. I regret not hanging out with my dad more before my sister came along and took him.
To My Younger Self
by Ellis Stabien
Tolman High School, Pawtucket, RI
To my younger self,
You really did not see this coming.
You knew you’d grow and change, but not exactly like this.
You didn’t know about the summer workshop class that would give you so many new friends, or that you’d become obsessed with people singing about dead politicians. And queens. It’s complicated. There’s a lot you wouldn’t understand.
But that’s alright.
I’ll try to simplify it. I’ll just pretend I’m talking to my cousin, I guess. It’s hard to imagine we were once one and the same.
You were naive, thought everything would go your way if you asked nicely. You were wrong.
You used to be so sensitive to these things. When someone yelled at you, you cried. When someone laughed at you, you hid.
I guess somewhere along the way, you became indifferent. You became me. Those old memories faded away, like the old scars on your fingertips, from your mistakes. Now they’re replaced with new scars. From my mistakes. That’s just the way things are, I guess. There’s a lot of pain in these walls. No one has to let go, but we let go, even if it comes back to haunt us.
But it’s not all painful. Some of the scars have funny stories, like the nick in my fingertip from the time I sewed costumes for the high school’s production of Shrek. I was lazy, sewing was
boring, and I thought I could stab straight through the fabric to go faster. I stabbed myself with a pair of scissors. It was scary at the time but makes for a good laugh now.
We have ugly hands, don’t we? They’re full of potential, but not the prettiest. Covered in flaws, bony knuckles, tiny scars. My middle fingers are slightly crooked on both hands. So are my pinkies, you know. But the things you’re gonna make with these hands! These scars are all worth it.
I’m sorry, I need to speak in terms you’ll understand, because we’re on different planets here. I suppose I could simplify everything in my memories for you.
I guess it comes in waves. Then you gather those waves in a bucket, pour these waves in boxes — duct-taped shut so I don’t peek inside. I ship them off to the back of my brain, and pray I forget them – pretend I don’t need them.
But oh, there are so many of them. Normal people call them repressed memories. I call them what they are— rubbish. But I guess they’re more than rubbish to you— some of them haven’t even happened yet.
I wish you luck.
Memories are tricky things, so please, for my sake, be gentle with them.
When you’re me, your life is gonna be messed up. I’m a natural disaster, wearing masks and hiding boxes, pretending I’m okay, when in truth, I’m kind of off my rocker.
Hey, it’s alright. Don’t be sad.
I forgot how sensitive you were. It’s hard, writing to someone I used to be. It’s not all ugly, bad,
bittersweet memories. There’s a lot I tried to say to you that I didn’t say, cause it was, quite frankly, trash.
But there’s one thing that really brings me light.
Yeah, you become a theater kid when you grow up.
I’m going to unbox some memories for you so you can see it’s not all tragic.
It smells so good. The theater, I mean. Acting isn’t a physical place, but a place in your mind. As soon as you get in, it’s like you’re finally stepping into your own skin. You can be who you are. The funny part is that “be who you are” means pretending to be someone else. But it sets me free. When you’re acting… they don’t see you, with all your flaws and quirks and problems, they see someone whose flaws make them relatable, and quirks make them funny, and problems add to the story.
It looks beautiful. The moment you lay eyes on it, the thick maroon curtain, the rows and rows of seats, some tattooed with the names of actors and students from years past, the mirrors on the wall, reflecting dozens of you’s across the auditorium.
Plus, there’s the basement.
Ok, I may or may not be in love with the basement of Tolman High School. But trust me, you’re gonna love it there. There’s an abandoned orchestra pit! Graffiti going back to the 30s! Tunnels left over from WWII, in the event they had to evacuate! Plus, going through there means you’ve got an entrance coming up; it’s under the stage.
I remember my first show there. It was a production of Annie, and I was kind of nervous, but let me tell you, getting to put on that mask, playing an annoying orphan, even if she wasn’t very important, was amazingly fun. I won’t give away the details— I’ll let you enjoy it on your own. But please, try to smile normally in the cast photos. Those are going in our portfolio someday, try to look like you haven’t killed someone, mm-kay?
Plus, you meet your people. Maybe they’re not everyone’s people— they’re weird and loud and burst into song. People give us strange looks when we walk down the street. But they’re my people. If I’m with them, I’m home.
So, being a teenager isn’t all depression and shame, there’s also friends and basements. Okay, that sounds weird.
But trust me.
It’s not all bad, you know.
It’s odd, writing to you. It seems funny, knowing someday you’ll go through this. Someday you’ll be me.
I guess we all have to grow up.
It’s nice, knowing that we’re not alone.
by Skye Tavino
Cranston Bowl, Cranston, RI
Since I was born, I’ve been part of the bowling “family.” My great grandma and great grandpa both started it. This led my nana and papa to bowl, then my mom and uncle, and finally my uncle’s kids, and my mom’s kids. My brother’s dad also bowls, and my mom’s fiancé bowls as well. Throughout the many years of bowling, we have created a very big and meaningful family.
I started my first year of bowling in the winter season of 2015. The league started at 9 a.m., so every Saturday morning we would wake up around 8 or so. My nana and I both loved to sleep, so waking up early was always a long process for us. Once we were finally awake, we climbed into her plum-colored Ford. I was 8 years old, so I got into the back. I always sat right behind my nana. Every single time. I never sat in any other seat. We would pull out of her driveway and start to head down the long, curvy road. We passed by the golf course and every time I saw the geese on the course, I yelled, “Geeses!!!” Before we got to the bowling alley, we stopped at the same Dunkin every morning. I always got a Sprite and plain bagel with cream cheese. My nana always got a “medium iced with six cream and six sugar.” We then took our trip from Coventry to Cranston Bowl. My aunt is mentally challenged so my nana has the handicap sign that hangs on the mirror, so we always get front and center parking.
We get out and I roll my one ball bag into the alley. My one bowling ball was a bright pink Barbie ball. I loved it. We walked in, found the lane that had my name on the screen, and set my stuff down. While I was doing this, my nana went up to the table and gave them the money for that morning of bowling. My cousin JaKob and I bowled on the same team, he was usually there before me with my uncle.
I wasn’t a very good bowler, but I always had fun so I didn’t really care. My nana was always cheering for me. She was probably the loudest and proudest in the alley. Once I finished the three games, we wrapped up and headed out. A lot of the time we would go to Walmart for some groceries. Nana always had the best food. We got home and I always sat on the couch and nana sat in her recliner. Nana would put on t.v. for us to watch, but most of the time she fell asleep. I could hear her snoring so loud; it was like a chainsaw. Some time would pass, and it would be time for dinner.
One of the strongest memories of my nana’s house was dinner time. Nana always made the best food I’ve ever eaten. I knew dinner was done when I could smell the food and hear the news playing. Every time we ate, we always watched the news and left our phones in the living room. It was a nice way to spend time together without phones. After dinner we would go back to the couch and turn on Wheel of Fortune. That was followed by Jeopardy. After we watched those two shows, we went to bed. I always slept with my nana because I wanted to be close to her. Every Saturday at Nana’s house was usually the same. The little moments like these are what I like to remember the most. I’ll never forget any of this, and I know my nana didn’t either.
Of Fairlawn’s Past
by Maison Teixeira
Fairlawn, Pawtucket, RI
As the spring sun’s golden rays submerge the air in their warmth, I am taken back to sun-soaked streets in my neighborhood of Fairlawn, Pawtucket that I walked upon long ago. The names of these streets remain the same, but the streets themselves tell a much different story than they once told. For one thing, the roads on my block once resembled the surface of the Moon, with craters and cracks at every turn. Nowadays though, the roads here are smooth slates, with the countless potholes having completely disappeared. Many former landmarks of my neighborhood still remain landmarks of my childhood, even though they have since vanished. These landmarks still exist in the Fairlawn of my memory, and I like to visit it every now and then. I’d like you to come with me as I walk the streets of my mind’s hometown to visit places that once were.
There is a principle in art known as “chiaroscuro.” This is the usage of intense contrasts between lighter and darker values. It can be said that the presence of extremely dark values makes the lighter values more appealing to the eye, and vice versa. This principle can be applied elsewhere in life, like how a muggy August afternoon makes the coolness of an ice-cold dairy treat all the more tantalizing. To escape the tyranny of this fierce heat, my granddad and I decide to take a walk to the local Cape Verdean fish market for one such dairy treat. My granddad wears his trademark Hawaiian shirt, and I wear my favorite bucket hat, which keeps the sun’s rays from raiding my cranium. We walk down the steps of our front porch and take a left. As we walk down to the fish market, we pass a small Cape Verdean shop called “Flor di Brav.” I didn’t know this at the time, but my granddad once served as manager of this shop, a shop which I came to appreciate much later in life for the delectable Cape Verdean cuisine it sells.
We step across the tracks of a rusty railroad while walking down Weeden Street – the street of the fish market – as well as the middle school I would attend nearly a decade later. Eventually, we stop at a bright yellow shop – the fish market at last. As soon as we walk through the fish market doors, it’s as if we’ve entered a parallel reality where condensation rules and the air from open freezer doors is as crisp as the breath from an emperor penguin’s beak in an Antarctic cove under the turquoise wisps of an aurora. Heat doesn’t even seem to exist as an idea in this universe of cool. My granddad opens one of the many freezer doors and takes out two coconut-flavored ice pops. He pays for them at the cash register, and we walk out the doors, back into the realm ruled by rays of UV radiation. Holding this coconut delight in my chubby hands, I rip open the wrapper with my stubby fingers, ready to bask in the frosty goodness. As soon as the ice pop touches my lips, I am taken to a tropical, yet frigid world where warmth and chill complement each other, just as dark and light complement each other in the usage of chiaroscuro. My granddad carries me on his shoulders as we make our way back home.
I finish my ice cream, and a few years pass by. My little cousins from Vermont are visiting for a couple days. We decide to take a walk to the nearby playground, the one behind the Cumberland Farms down the street. My aunt and uncle accompany us, and my cousin Zay rides his bike while my cousin Kai sits in a stroller pushed by my Auntie Babs. We walk down the same steps I took with my granddad long ago, only this time we take a right instead of a left. Once we reach the curb, we take another right, and we traverse a few familiar streets before finally arriving at the playground – a playground where I have spent countless days of my childhood. I’ve grown used to everything about this playground, from the seemingly endless floor of mulch beneath our feet to the nearby lake that an entire neighborhood of ducks calls home.
At the heart of the playground lies what is, in my youthful eyes, the single greatest slide the world has ever seen. I eagerly run up the platform stairs towards my favorite slide, then jump onto the slide feet-first, shrieking in joy as I spiral down the slide’s silver, metallic surface. The “spiral slide,” as I have so aptly named it, happens to be tied for my favorite attraction at the Fairlawn playground. It shares this honor with the “fire engine,” a life-size – or at least, from a kid’s perspective – model of a fire engine, complete with a metal bench to sit on and a steering wheel. Forget toy cars – the fire engine was an experience that Matchbox cars just couldn’t match. This was heaven for me then, and I still retreat to this tiny haven in my mind whenever I yearn to return to more serene days.
On the walk home from the playground, we pass a tree with a small wooden door built into it. I always used to imagine a gnome lived behind this door, and that the tree was the abode in which he hung his hat. Fast-forward to the present day, and this tree is no more than a measly stump – but the door remains. This is symbolic of present-day Fairlawn as a whole; the fish market has moved to a new location, and the playground has been demolished and rebuilt, but my memories remain as a door through which I can enter these long-gone locations whenever I so please. No matter how much Fairlawn changes, it’ll always be the town I call home.
by Kevin Tejeda
Smith Street, Providence, RI
I woke up to the sound of the alarm slamming on my eardrums. I pressed the snooze button right after I lifted open an eyelid; it went off again. I was so stressed that I couldn’t press the snooze again, then I realized that I went to sleep late last night watching some sort of documentary on my Netflix account, and it was based on basketball. I noticed a bright light coming from the bottom of my torso and it was the documentary–probably 20 episodes ahead of how I left it last night. I then realized that I had school today and started panicking. I got out of my own bed to get to the bathroom so that I could take a quick bath. I started getting up, but then suddenly the sound of the alarm went off again. So did the sound of birds chirping, leaves being swayed by the wind, the cars running along the surface of the wet roads, the chatter coming from across the room. I became so bothered by the sound of the alarm to the point where I actually looked at the time and realized it was 7 in the morning and I was still trying to get out of bed. Even after all of this, I refused to try harder to get up for school this morning. I forced myself on the floor and started to perform a quick 10 push-ups, but I was so tired that I didn’t get past three. Fortunately after laying on the floor for a couple of seconds, God passed down some help by giving me the mildest, most atrocious cramp I´ve had in months and that was enough to motivate me to get ready
Yellow Meets Gray
by Brianna Timpson
Barnold Street, Lada Drive, and Sidney Street, West Warwick, RI
There’s always a day Where you have that happy way You are ready early And you can take on the world Until yellow meets gray In your own world Smiling to your favorite music Relaxing on the bus before school The odds seem to be in your favor Until yellow meets gray Only one stop is left You pull across the intersection The brakes get slammed on You jolt forward protected by your bag Yellow meets gray Heart racing, looking forward Mind following your heart About to set an Olympic record Glancing around, you see a truck Yellow met gray The red of the firetruck and ambulance The orange of the flowers The yellow bus that contains you The green grass that sympathizes you Yellow and gray The blue sky high above The purple bag that kept you safe The black police cars The gray truck in the driver’s wheel Yellow and gray Be thankful for your day Your bus never meets gray For if that accident occurs Your brain will let it stay So never experience when Yellow meets gray On May 25th of 2022, I was riding my bus to school when we got hit by a pick-up truck. It hit the wheel near the driver. Luckily, the injuries were mostly minor, some concussions and neck pain. For about a week I had a slight concussion and whiplash. I seem to keep going over parts of the accident in my brain. The day when yellow met gray is permanently embedded in my brain.
School and Life
by Logan Toussaint
Where have I been spending my time during the pandemic? Well believe it or not, like many other people, it is in my house. More specifically, in my room. The pandemic took place halfway through my seventh-grade year. We were told that the school was going to take two weeks off, but later we found out it would be two years. Naturally, we were excited to have this break off, like who would not want a free two weeks off from school, it is a kid’s dream. Time goes by while I am doing my online school on zoom, it is safe to say that was not fun at all and I was ready to head back to school and see my friends. Summer goes by, quarantined with my family just trying to get through Covid.
I went to a different school in 8th grade which was vastly different because not only was it a public school, I was used to a catholic school, but I had gone to the same school since I was born. Nine years. Public school was quite different, easier if I am being honest. It started as virtual, online classes which was weird, going right into a new school, but online. Online was super easy and interesting and we did that for about half of the year. Then it was about time, time to go back to real in-person school, even though we had to stay six feet apart and wear masks. At least we got to interact with real people again and live a normal life. The rest of that year was interesting, and I made some new friends back where I live. I had to drive 30 minutes to go to school in Warwick every day and now I was just three minutes from my school.
Fast forward to 9th grade year and I am at Hendricken, the school I have waited to go to forever. The freedom you are given seems crazy compared to my old schools. When I woke up in the morning at my old school it seemed like torture that I had to go to school. I knew it was just going to be another long boring day, but at Hendricken, there are still some boring parts, but I know I am going to have a fun day and make some everlasting memories.
Enough about what I do regarding school, what do I do out of school? I have done a lot of exploring here in Rhode Island, been to most of the beaches and views. I used to go on hikes with my mom, aunt, and cousins. We would go to specific trails and go geocaching. Geocaching is where someone hides a box and gives you coordinates, and you must try and find that box. There are some cool things in the box, and you can trade and sign the book in it and that is how we found a lot of the places. There is this place called Beavertail and it is like an island, but it is connected to the land, and it is surrounded by rocks. It is a good place to take pictures for a wedding or prom. There is this other place that we went to, and it is a trail you go through and once you get to the end you reach a nice sand beach. In the water on that beach, you can find a lot of seals and that is the main attraction of the trail.
Root of My Fear
by Kaylin Valentin
A really scary story to me is when my cousin trapped me under a laundry basket, also known as the root of my claustrophobia. I was around six years old and so was my cousin. We were at the apartment I used to live in before my parents were divorced. My cousin was staying over at my house that weekend. My mom was cooking in the kitchen, my dad was out shopping and me and my cousin were playing in the living room. We were playing in an empty laundry basket as if it was a car and it was so much fun. After what felt like hours playing with the basket my cousin told me to go under it like a turtle. I did what she said, then realized she was sitting on top. This basket didn’t have holes, so I thought I was going to die. I know it sounds dramatic, but six year old me was fighting for her life under that basket. I started getting really sweaty and dizzy and then I just broke down and threw a tantrum. When she got off after a bit, my aunt, mom, and cousin were all staring down at me. That was the moment I knew that I could never be found in too small of a space again. A couple years later I found myself in an elevator with my mom. It was us and maybe four other people and the elevator just stopped. My luck is horrible in small spaces as you can see. The doors would not open and I thought I was going to die there. None of us would ever be found. My whole life was running through my eyes at that moment.
We Had a Plan
by Krystal D. Valentin
The bus stops with a slight screech, and my class almost goes feral at the sight of it: Slater Park. We’re all practically begging to be let go, I mean what second graders would not want to just rush into that huge playground. It was practically screaming that it was a gift for us to enjoy with the green and red Christmas colors of the structures. Finally, after one last head count the teachers sent us off to run around to our heart’s content. I stayed behind, letting all of the others run off because we had a plan. “We” being my best friends Makayla and Bella, and I. There was talk going around that the teachers were going to be taking pictures of everyone playing around, but we were not going to let that happen to us. For the next two hours we played our own game of intense hide and seek, but instead of with each other, it was with the teachers. If a teacher started getting too close, we would split up, meeting at our designated spot by the swings once the coast was clear. After our two hours were up, they grouped all of us up and said they had a big, big surprise for us. As they walked us behind the playground, I could hear the other kids whispering. Everyone was wondering where they were taking us. Eventually our class arrived at the animal shelter. They had all the dogs out in the kennels that you can see from the back. I thought we were wild at the playground before, but seeing the dogs made us all go crazy. I decided right then and there with Makayla and Bella that we would all grow up and get a ton of dogs together. Last but not least on the teacher’s list was to take us all to the famous Slater Park Carousel. Picking a horse was crucial, so as we watched the first graders go ‘round and ‘round we had to figure out where the three of us were going to go. Once it was our turn, we pushed to the front, and secured the horses for our ride. With a loud clunk, the carousel started turning and we all kept screaming “Faster, faster!” One more ride around and just as quickly as the ride had started, it came to an end. The teachers were ready to get us back on the bus so we could head back to school, but my class had a different idea. We wanted to go to the playground just one more time. With our cute seven-year-old pouts, how could they say no? Makalya, Bella, and I played just about every game we could from tag to hide and seek. By the end of the next hour, we were all sitting in a row on one of the little benches. As all the kids lined up to go back to school, we sat and caught our breath. One of the teachers came up to us holding a camera. “I feel like I have not seen you girls all day. I have not taken a single picture of any of you” she said. The three of us looked at each other and knew that this was it, we had been found out. To this day, I can almost perfectly recall that whole day. Just a few days ago, I found that picture of my best friends and I. We are sitting on a bench, all tired with messy hair and dirt smudged on our cheeks. We each have a tired smile on our face and a sneaky gleam in our eyes.
Learning Through Experience – Biking the Blackstone
by Toby Watkins-Cordeiro
Blackstone River, Woonsocket, RI
It was a bright Sunday morning, and I was getting ready to go on the Blackstone River Bike Path with my dad and younger sister. I clipped on my bike helmet, tested my brakes, and started pedaling, the river on my right side. I had heard that the Blackstone River is one of the most polluted rivers in the whole country, so I wanted to see it up close. It had supplied indigenous people with food, water, and transportation for hundreds of years. It was also where the first water-powered mill was built. The Blackstone River has many waterfalls, making it the ideal spot for mills and factories to be made. However, all these factories, as well as the chemicals used in people’s yards, and most recently, the dumping of untreated wastewater, released pollution into the water, making it too dangerous to touch or even kayak in. As I rode down the path, I was excited to see the river, but also worried. Would I be able to make it the full six and a half miles we were cycling? And even if I could, would it be worth it?
The river was through a jumble of trees and branches, but I could still see its many small waterfalls. A small chipmunk scurried into the path, but quickly moved out of the way as I passed. My hands were gripping the handlebars so tight that it hurt, but I kept going. There was suddenly a huge roaring sound to my right and I turned to see one of the biggest (and the loudest) waterfalls I had ever seen. As the water cascaded over the edge, I knew that however long the path was, it was still worth it.
The water was dark and murky. With all the pollution, I wasn’t sure if anything could live near it. Suddenly, a group of geese appeared on my left and started hissing. Even though the geese were slightly creepy, it raised my spirits as it showed that the river could still have animals living near it.
Without warning, the path exited the green overgrowth and opened onto a very hilly part of the bikeway. I pedaled as fast as I could – down hills, up hills, around turns, across a road – until finally I made it to the end. I had done it!
Just by biking near the river, I was able to learn about it. There are ways you can learn about it too. The National Park Service and the Environmental Protection Agency both have web pages about the Blackstone River. In addition, you could go on the bike path too. Although the Blackstone River is very polluted, there are easy ways you can help make it cleaner. These include not putting chemicals (like pesticides and fertilizers) on your lawn, making sure your trash doesn’t blow away, or by picking up other people’s trash. By working together, we can keep the river clean.
by Rowan Weber
Block Island, RI
Block Island is an island where people live. I live here. Me and my friends are special. I do stuff on Block Island and Block Island is where I live. I like it here. It’s fun.
Apple Tree Farm
by Syan Wilson
West Warwick, RI
Like every little child, I was, and still am, curious. So it was only natural when I would ask my parents and grandparents about our heritage. I asked my grandma first and she told me about my great grandpa. My great grandfather Jacob Gutowski once owned the whole neighborhood when it was just an apple tree farm. My gram said he was the one who bought the land around here and it was filled with apple trees. The appletree farm spread wide and far and produced many different sweet, juicy, and money-making apples. He used to sell them in the Crompton/Main Street area. I can still smell the sweetness of the apple pie that my grandma described and how it is the same recipe she uses today. Which I plan to use if I become a baker in the future, along with the inherited recipe book that will be passed down to me once I’m all grown up. In late 1940 my great grandmother and her four sisters were all of age and married so each was given a section of land from the apple farm to build their home and family on. This is what marked the end of the apple tree farm and the beginning of our family neighborhood.
Where I live now is surrounded by my family and the thousands of memories each house brings. My grandma’s mind-blowing Thanksgiving feasts, my uncle’s dangerous bonfires, and my grandpa’s huge backyard garden. In the past, my gram said that when she was little there were a lot of open fields on one side of the street and three houses on the other side, the open field-side being ours. But the thing I know is the place of my happiest memories is my grandma’s pool. The pool was based on my grandmother’s uncle and aunt’s pool. It was identical and was put in by my great-grandpa in 1969. The memory-filled waters represent all the parties, late-night swims, learning how to walk, the refreshing cold juice of fruits, and finally the random family members popping by for a swim. My grandma’s favorite memory was when a lot of our neighbors would come to the pool and go swimming. They would each bring food and have all the tables set up outside of the pool area and everybody would eat, and that was almost every weekend when she was younger.
My uncle would come over with all his friends and their kids to the pool and he would have gallons of delicious watermelon Del’s. My cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents would just come over to the pool and we would all have our party. Then once we were hungry we would walk down to grandpa’s and pick some veggies to throw on the grill with the hamburgers and hotdogs. My grandpa’s huge garden was created before I was even born, so I have been picking veggies and taste-testing fruit since I was a baby. I’m so used to only farming fresh vegetables and fruits that I and my family have all become spoiled rotten and only eat fresh vegetables and fruits during the summer. But during other seasons we all suck it up and eat canned vegetables, much to my dismay.
Finally, the thing my gram told me she wished everyone to know is that in our neighborhood, a lot of the family are related: cousins, brothers, and sisters, and it’s been that way ever since the 1940s that we are related. Most of the families in our neighborhood either have been here for a long time or their families used to own it before them and they have been here for a long time. So it’s pretty much a close-knit neighborhood. We’re all family here.
by Jariana Zuleta
Central Falls, RI