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Student Spotlight | 7 Minutes

Short Story Contest Winners Grades 1-3 & Grades 7-9

Short Story Contest Winners Grades 1-3 & Grades 7-9

Congratulations to our Short Story Contest Winners! Here are the winners of 1-3rd grade, and 7-9th grade categories:

Short Story Contest Winner, Grades 1-3:

Lunch at the Zoo, by Sophia Mast,

“Don't forget your lunch, honey!” her mother yelled as Ava ran out the front door without it. She skipped back inside to retrieve her lunch bag.

“Whoops,” she said, “Guess I was so excited I forgot.”

“I figured,” her mom said with a smile. She kissed her on the head and Ava sprinted out the door. This was going to be the best day ever; she was going on a field trip to the coolest place in the world: The zoo.

The school bus was already pulled up at the curb outside when Ava arrived at school, and Miss Oglesby, her teacher, was lining everyone up to board the bus. They were happy, laughing and giggling because it would be a day out of the classroom. The bus door closed and off they zoomed, down three streets, onto the highway, and downtown to the zoo.

But when the bus pulled up at the zoo, no one was there to greet them. Miss Oglesby walked up to the gate and pressed the bell, but no one came out to meet them. She pushed against the gate – and it opened! “Very well, class,” she said, “I suppose the zoo-keeper is with the animals, so we'll just go right in.” And in they went, Ava at the very end of the line.

At first everyone was noisy and excited. But then they grew quiet. Because everything in the zoo was quiet. Very quiet. Strangely quiet. So quiet that Miss Oglesby finally stopped outside the lion's cage and turned to say, “Now, class, I don't know why no one's here, but....” And at that moment one of the lions ran up to the cage, knocked down the cage door and leaped onto Miss Oglesby's back and proceeded to eat up every bit of her.

The class ran, screaming. But it did no good. From every direction, animals swooped down on them, after them, in front them, eating them up with one or two gulps – the same way they had eaten the zoo-keeper earlier that morning. Ava ran as fast as she could, straight back to the gate to make her escape. But standing in the way was a large crocodile, with a nasty grin on its face. “I'm hungry,” he growled. “Oh,” cried Ava, “I entirely understand. Here's my lunch. You'll like it.” The crocodile smiled fiercely, but he liked the look of Ava's lunch. He grabbed for it, and while he was grabbing, Ava darted out the gate to safety.

Or that was, at least, the story she told her mother that afternoon when her mother asked if she had eaten all of her lunch, and if so, what was in it.

“He liked it,” she added, confidently, as her mother reached silently for her phone and dialed Miss Oglesby's number.

Short Story Contest Winner, Grades 7-9:

Why I Don't Kayak, by Benjamin Treadwell,

My mother always told me to stay away from the lake. When I was young, I assumed it was because she was afraid I would drown. Or perhaps there were snapping turtles lurking in the muddy water. But her fear persisted even as I grew older and learned to swim. I complied with her demands to stay away; I even grew accustomed to riding my bike along longer routes to avoid it. It didn’t bother me at all, not until yesterday, when my curiosity got the best of me. And it all started because of Billy’s parrot.

“Hey, Leroy!” Billy hollered at me as school let out.

“Yeah, what is it?” I answered.

“You want to ride over to my house tomorrow? I got a parrot for my birthday, and he’s awesome!”

“Just as long as he isn’t foul-mouthed. You know how my mother feels about swearing,” I said, already keenly interested.

“Aww, don’t worry. All he says is ‘Meat for sale!” over and over again. Dad bought him off the guy with the deli cart,”

“See you tomorrow!” We rode off in opposite directions on our bikes. The next day was Saturday, and I went over to Billy’s as soon as breakfast was done. I even skipped my usual glance at the weather channel. I wish I had looked at the TV before I ran off.

“Bye! I’ll be back after I see Billy’s parrot!” I said to Mom as I hopped on my bike.

“Have fun! And stay away from the lake!” She said as I rode off. This was a customary warning. I was convinced Mom’s fear was unfounded, but I knew I’d be in trouble if I went near the lake. So, I took the long route around the lake as usual. When I got to Billy’s house, we had fun with the parrot for most of the morning. Not only did it talk, but the molted feathers made for great tickle weapons. Unfortunately, Billy’s little sister figured this out before we did. Then, during lunch, there was an awful thunderstorm. I couldn’t have left if I wanted to. My mom called and said it was ok to stay for a while longer. So, I waited until the storm was done.

“Hey, I’ll ride home with you,” Billy said, I agreed, and we rode back, taking the long route. Billy knew of my mother’s phobia. We talked and laughed, and generally didn’t pay any attention to the road at all until we nearly crashed into a huge downed tree.

“Aww, really?” I said staring at the massive pile of leaves and branches blocking the route I usually took. It must have been downed by the storm. One glance at the tremendous trunk of the fallen oak told me I had no chance of moving it, and we couldn’t get our bikes over the snarl of limbs. 

“Well, I suppose there is always the other path,” Billy said, turning back. It wasn’t until we were partway down that path that I realized I was closer to the lake than ever before. I stopped, figuring that if I was already here, I couldn’t get in any more trouble. My curiosity pounced, and I looked around.

“I didn’t know there was an island in the lake,” I said, gazing out across the pristine blue water.

“Yep. I went out there once, in my grandpa’s motor boat,” Billy said.

“Think we could get there? I want to check it out,” I said.

“We’d need a boat,” Billy glanced around. I did the same. Then, something brown caught my eye by the shore. It was an old, decrepit boat snagged on a branch near the shore.

“Hey look, Billy, a boat!” I exclaimed, incredulous.

“No way,” Billy laughed. “The storm must have blown it over here,”

Naturally, I went down to check it out. There were even two sets of paddles

in the boat.

“That’s convenient,” I said, and climbed into the boat.

“Oh, cool. It’s an old two-person kayak,” Billy said.

I began trying the paddles. It took some work, and Billy’s directions from behind just confused me, but I got the hang of it.

“I’m really cold!” I said to Billy. I noticed that the lake was sapping all the heat out of the boat.

“Yeah, me too. I think Grandpa said this lake was glacier-fed.” Billy mentioned.

“Well, that explains Mom’s issue with the lake.” I said, realization dawning on me.

“Oh?” Billy sounded curious.

“Yeah, Mom must be convinced I’m going to freeze to death if I swim here.” I explained. “Wow, I am really cold!”

“Hmm…I know what will warm us up!” Billy said. He started doing something behind me. I twisted around to see what Billy was up to. He was a fun guy, but sometimes he could be really stupid. I found him sitting up on the rim of his little seat well, doing something down where he should have been sitting.

“Billy, no!” I cried, but too late. He had lit a fire in the kayak.

“There, that’ll warm us up in no time!” Billy said.

“You idiot! This is a wooden boat!” I screamed at him. I saw the look of realization cross his face just as the boat caught fire. Billy jumped out and swam to shore.

“Come on, abandon ship already!” he called, swimming toward shore. I still don’t know why I didn’t take his advice. Billy says I shouted something about trying to save the boat and he is certain I had just gone a little crazy with fear. I blame him, saying that stupidity is a contagious disease, and he gave it to me. But, I digress.

I paddled ever faster as I felt the old boat creak and pop under the flames. Finally, I got close into shore and leapt into the shallows as the boat cracked andsank, steaming into the water.

“My mom is going to kill me! I’m sopping wet, my shoes are muddy mess, I think my shirt is singed, and we just sank some unlucky person’s boat!” I groaned, flopping onto shore.

Billy became rather introspective as he considered the consequences of his error. “I’m sorry about the trouble you are going to be in. And, it’s a real shame about the boat. But I guess I the old saying is right: You can’t have your kayak and heat it too,”