(Photos by Jennifer Troester)
(read event story)
- Chance Speirs, grade 5, Creek Valley Middle School, Chappell
- Anvitha Boosani, grade 5, Cather Elementary, Omaha
- Amelia Schwensen, grade 5, Ruth Hill Elementary, Lincoln
JUNIOR HIGH/MIDDLE SCHOOL
- Olivia O’Clair, grade 8, Loomis Public School
- Leyla S., grade 8, Nathan Hale Magnet School, Omaha
- Taryn Strong, grade 8, O’Neill Public Schools
- Elizabeth Zander, grade 8, Pound Middle School, Lincoln
- Sheridan Blanco, grade 9, Gering Freshman Academy, Scottsbluff
- Rachel Mazzotta, grade 11, Brownell-Talbot, Omaha
- Takisha Farmer, grade 9, Valentine High School
- Mackenzie Jung, grade 12, Papillion-LaVista High School
by Chance Speirs
The wheat sways under
The wind’s gentle caress,
Welcoming morning’s first rays
And the farmer’s delicate
Hand of water, reaching
Rustling fingers to stroke the sun.
An old barn stands
Tall and proud, crimson,
Scratched, and leaning,
Watching over the cattle
If a twister should pass
The herd silently grazing,
The moon shining bright.
A calf snuggling with its
Mother, like two living
Statues, and the world
Content with itself
While the farm lives on.
by Anvitha Boosani
It became that time between light and dark
Which casts a bright golden spell on us all.
The plains were dyed yellow, so was tree bark
And blinding rays of sunshine became small.
Tawny light projected through my windows;
The sun was outlined with colors galore;
The countryside looked joyous as it glowed;
The scene was set like in ancient folklore.
Sunlight was spread out in brilliant beams,
And I pondered at its lasting greatness.
During dusk, the sunset glittered and gleamed,
And bright colors exhibited boldness.
Nebraskan sunsets have great effect.
I know this specific one was perfect.
Stroll Under the Stars
by Amelia Schwensen
A veil of darkness covers the fields
The fields of my grandparents farm
I walk beside the numerous stalks of corn
Sometimes on the rough gravel road
Drifting towards home
In no hurry
The chilly night breeze sweeps over me
Rustling the leaves of a nearby willow tree
Bending over its pond
The sky grows darker still
The moon only a sliver
Everything is still and silent
Almost as if earth itself is sleeping
Along with all the critters of the day
I am almost home
It is almost time for me to join them
The lights from the house come into view
Like a lantern they beckon me
Telling me this way
Is that grandpa coming from the house
Coming to walk with me in the cool, night air
He smiles and takes my hand
His hands are warm
The hands of a hardworking farmer
“Look” grandpa says in a whisper
Not wanting to break the calm silence of the night
He points up, and I turn my eyes to the heavens
My breath catches in my throat
Full of awe and wonder, I gasp
Unlike in the noisy city
You can see every star there is to see
New places just waiting to be explored
The possibilities are endless
I feel like an ant
Finally seeing just how big the world is
A sense of calm and clarity washes over me
That stroll under the stars changed my view of the world
Now and Forever
Pages of Places
by Olivia O’Clair
Here I go to tell of my place,
But it’s a kind of secret.
So I lay down my very last ace,
And hope to God you’ll keep it.
It’s a world you cannot see,
Unless you look in the right places.
It’s a world where you are free,
And it’s found between the pages.
It begins in the checkout line,
At the library in Phelps County.
It captures the rest of your time,
Not a curse, but a bounty.
I can cast spells with Harry,
I can fly with a vamp.
I can shape shift with Perry,
All under my bedside lamp.
Anything is possible, you see,
If you set the right stages.
All you must do is come with me,
Melding; deeper, and deeper, inside the pages.
Omaha Public Library
by Leyla S.
Once upon a time
Among the books
Between the shelves
In front of the counter
Beneath the cover
Without a doubt
Along the sea of imagination
Past the last page
Snap! The book shuts.
Boats dot the blue giant,
As I make my way down the long winding road,
The giant disappears behind a group of trees,
That are scattered along roadside.
The giant recalls all the memories I hold,
Turning them into fish,
Every fish is every memory I had,
The giant keeps them safe.
The giant lives in the heart of Nebraska,
Calling Nebraskans from all around,
My family answers the calls,
We flock to the giant.
The blue wave of the giant seem to tremble,
Under the boats,
Under the tubes,
An Icy Vessel
Ice floats lazily down the Platte River
The fluid movement hypnotic
I pull out my camera
Wanting to capture the mesmerizing moment forever
Hoping to recreate the calming effect of the ice flow
in the future.
I lose myself in the wintertime scene
My frosty breathe dissipating into the cold air
Reaching for the gray, cloudy sky as it fades away
Patches of snow decorating the ground
as bare trees line our path.
The ground below my feet
Crunches and cracks
a carpet of twigs and leaves
that bends and bows under my boots.
I’m tired from the long hike
My legs sore from traveling up steep hills
but it’s worth it
If even just for the view.
I ask my father
If I could ride on one of the flats of ice
Enjoy the overcast sky and swishing water
Flowing down the river
Following the current
He warns me of the ice’s delicacy
of falling through into the freezing flows.
I heed his warning
But the fantasy still holds firm
of a frozen vessel to travel in down the river
to pass through city after city
Gray clouds that now sit quietly in the sky
Drop powdery snow to earth
Dusting it like powdered sugar atop a cake.
I smile at the thought
of that perfect, quiet, impossible journey
Through the icy veins of Nebraska
and I think
This is the place I’m proud to call
Where I am From
by Sheridan Blanco
I am from a small town that got even smaller as I grew
Rushing to dance classes right after a long day of school and sports
Cramming for important tests the next day in school
Then turning around and doing the same thing
I am from a family full of teenage girls
Yelling at each other for taking each other’s clothes
As we grow older becoming closer than ever before
Staying up late just to finish that one movie we couldn’t wait to see
I am from happy family memories
The kind of memories you like to go relive
Also some too sad that you wish you could forget but you won’t let yourself
These are the kind of memories that make a family stick together
I am from a hard working mother
A dad whose career didn’t get too last long
She works hard all day long
While he stays home taking us along
I am from a family with one cat
Oh that cat sits and dreams all day
He’s the one that can come and cuddle with you on a cold winter’s night
He is always there whenever you need him
I am from long car rides to the other side of the state
Coming home at 2 a.m. from a soccer tournament
Staying awake as long as possible so the driver wasn’t all alone
When you get into the driveway pretend to sleep so you get carried in
I am from making brownies with my best friend in the middle of the night
Watching late night movies and seeing spaghetti in a scene and making some
We are inseparable we do everything together
Now we have two moms, two dads, and many siblings
I am from taking a late night run then walking in the dewy morning
Training because what I do is what I love
It gets harder as I get older
Training begins to stop and now it’s over it’s just if I have to
I am from sliding into home plate because it feels amazing
Making that perfect pitch and striking them out
Hitting that change up out past second base
Running those bases just makes me feel alive
I am from a room that has most everything out of place but it’s in place to me
A small closet that you need to squeeze everything together
Four extra dressers that are smashed into my room because my closet was overflowing
Also many shoes scattered throughout my room
I am from a sweet strawberry lemonade in the Summer
A healthy green tea during Autumn
Steamy warm hot chocolate on the coldest Winter nights
Then having a nice refreshing sip of cool refreshing water in the Spring
I am from telling myself to go to sleep and then taking another peek at my new book
Finding a new series that just got me hooked
Reading and reading because I’m in love
Read too fast and the pleasure is done
I am from pasta on Monday nights
Having taco Tuesdays every Tuesday
Garlic sausage Wednesdays
Then usually spaghetti and meatballs on Thursday
I am from a buttered popcorn when watching a movie
M&M’s smothered at the bottom from such exciting scenes
A bubble down your throat pop
Your friends laughing at you each time you might start crying at the end of it even though you know you know how it ends
I am from the beginning of new days
The satisfaction of the late morning
The I could take a nice nap afternoon
Then night falls and feeling like I am so awake I could run a marathon
I am from inspiring quotes
“Aspire to Inspire before you Expire”
“Be a fruitloop in a world of Cheerios”
“Breathe in the future, exhale the past.”
I am from waking up in a time that I think is unhuman
4:45 a.m rolls around and you sadly flop out of bed
5:30 comes down the block and you're already off to school
It may be way early but the best part will be working so hard for the halftime
entertainment show and seeing the crowd have all eyes on you
I am from listening to the radio
My favorite type of music they play on the radio is the Oldies
Oldies remind me of when I was young and everything was simple
They have a story behind it not just some lyrics on a page
Best of all they remind me of my dad singing to the Oldies in the car when he takes me places
I am from all these places
It may only be some words on a paper for some people, but for me it’s interesting,
amazing, and inspirational
Life isn’t just always about where you’re from now in this moment but it’s where YOU
You will go places but even when you do you just can’t forget… Where You’re From.
by Rachel Mazzotta
Moon in the midst of humidity
surrounded by too many miles
that slowly lessen your drive
to leave this place,
because it is akin to
sultry summer evenings
burning on the pavement,
and stars hanging low at dusk
delicately following you in the night,
and white-blanketed Sundays
glistening with their fleeting innocence
and the clouds kill at midnight
turning with black and grey,
water pounding beneath the chaos
and after everything,
the darkness grows still,
glowing with a brilliantly dull orange
that signifies the end has come.
By Takisha Farmer
They say the world changed,
but my friend, it has remained the same.
They just have different labels
to tell this small fable.
I remember my grandmother telling me, “Hush, my child, on February 26, 2012
while on the TV we read the headline Breaking News: Teenager Trayvon Martin
I was 12 when this aired live on TV:
That boy looked just like me.
What scares me is that there are thousands of silent cries unheard
because they are not big enough, not bloody enough, not white enough.
Do not tell me this isn’t about race,
that I am a disgrace.
This is not just an opinion.
Open up your foolish eyes and see the oblivion.
I walk in the local high school,
and it seems as if a white paint can was spilled and I feel overruled.
The white girls cry out, “OMG your hair is so different!”
As their fingers slither through my hair with ignorance,
meddling with my roots,
as the white man captured my people taking away their dignity and truth.
The human body has exactly 206 bones.
Osteoporosis occurs when you become old.
Your bones become weak and brittle,
but I will not be belittled.
We will not become weak.
We will stand and speak.
For we are strong,
do not apologize, for we did nothing wrong.
My grandma was young when MLK gave his speech,
but she will never forget the tear that trickled down her mother’s cheek
as she watched him on TV
at a diner down the street.
Martin Luther had a dream,
and I do too:
That one day I will walk down the street
and people won’t think
about what shade of brown I am
Or the hoodie that I am in.
You see Trayvon made that mistake,
and now his mother’s heart aches
Trayvon’s cry was heard,
and the nation was stirred.
But yet they continue to sing
the words that still ring
“O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
But what about my brothers and sisters in their graves?
Nebraska is where I Stay
Mackenzie Jung, grade 12
I’m here to stay
In the country In the city
Where roads Where streets
Are bare Are paved
And lined with Around every
Corn, soy, wheat. Building, store, boutique
The people are nice
Always ready Although rather
Talk, chat, say Busy yet ready to
Or even just Faintly while
Ready to wave. Holding a door
Not exactly what outsiders think
Of boring ol’ Of stereotypical
With horses instead Filled with small
Of cars and barns Outdated companies
Attached to every house. Instead of big business
Yet the nights are beautiful
With no street lights As you walk in
To block the sky The Old Market
From the view With old-time
Of a million Lamps lining every
And one stars. Old-tim e avenue.
This is where two worlds meet