Monday, June 10, 2019

Two Authors to Close the Year: Maddie and Maddy

As the school year comes to a close, we are featuring some narratives of reflection and artwork that are also a little indicative of students’ minds as the school year comes to a close. We hope that at the end of the year, you feel related to, a little amused, and most importantly thankful for the time you spent in Holicong this year. Happy reading and have a great summer! 


Artwork by Nicole S., Grade 9
I Hate Personal Narratives

            A personal narrative is defined as a prose narrative relating personal experience usually told in first person. However, I define a personal narrative as the ultimate conglomeration of tedium, trepidation, and disgust. Quite simply, the personal narrative is my kryptonite.
 Every year in elementary school, I was forced to construct some pretentious personal narrative. Each time though, my body was overcome with dread, for my demise was in sight. For about three consecutive years, I wrote the same. exact. story. It was a poorly constructed tale of how I almost got swept out to sea. Each time I had to write the narrative, a small part of me wishes I had been. My teachers always utilized the same ritualistic chant: “Dialogue! Imagery! Dialogue! Imagery!” I am still convinced that they banged drums on a desert island in their fearsome narrative cult, for I have never witnessed any other human beings so feverish from dialogue. As a middle school student, I thought my personal narrative days were far behind me, buried deep enough to survive a nuclear apocalypse; the utter cheesiness and standardization could not hurt me anymore. Two weeks ago though, my world came crashing down.
It was an eerily quiet morning: the birds did not chirp, the leaves quieted themselves, and the sun hid behind the clouds just enough to spy on an unsuspecting ninth grade student heading to school. The calm before the storm had arrived, but I was too naïve and sleep deprived to realize.
First and second period had dragged by excruciatingly, and my eyelids flickered with exhaustion; my teachers probably think I have a medical condition, for when they begin to teach or read off a tragically misspelled PowerPoint presentation my eyes reflexively blink one at a time, causing them to gander at me with genuine fear and concern. Luckily, third period English class, the turning point of my day, was about to begin.
Following the bell, I rushed out of advisory and speed-walked down the long, sardine can-like halls to the Promised Land. As Mr. Vogelsinger tranquilly began to read the Poem of the Day, I heard the angels singing in beautiful harmony. Little did I know that this paradise would morph into a raging hellscape. 
Then, he said it. Mr. Vogelsinger uttered those two horrible words that brought forth darkness on the world. They came out in horrifying slow motion, “Today we will be starting our personal narratives.” I heard a record screech in my head and the internal shrieking of my suddenly atrophied soul. Why, God? Oh, why? What did I do to deserve this torture, this punishment?
My heart sank audibly, my eyes bugged out, and I sputtered, “No!”
Mr. Vogelsinger sounded like someone hopelessly trying to sell a bizarre kitchen appliance on an infomercial, “Also, this counts toward a large portion of your overall grade, so make sure it’s good.” An odd image of me as a senior citizen in ninth grade English class flashed into my head. How would I ever pass? The rapid countdown had begun: I had to come up with an idea. 
For days and weeks I wandered in a desert of uncreativity. Every so often I would see a beautiful idea glistening in the sun, but it was always a mirage. A dilemma arrived. Anything worth writing was either unfit for a school environment, violent, traumatically boring and overused, or severely uncomfortable to share. I began to type psychotically, but it would always end up being erased out of shame. 
After a week of failed attempts, I begged my mom for help while we were in the car. “What should I write about for my personal narrative?” I asked her desperately after explaining my dilemma.
She pondered over my words for a few seconds before saying, “I have the perfect idea! You should write a story about how you kicked Max out of the womb.”
"I don't think that will --"                                                                                              
She swerved the car with enthusiasm, “Oh! Or you can write a story about Devin pulling down every single display at Kmart!”
“Is this a joke?” I asked, for I truly could not tell. I definitely asked the wrong person.
For the next few days after our conversation, every time she would do something weird or the family had a meltdown, my mom said, “You should use this for your narrative!” or she would chirp, “I’m giving you more stuff to write about!” The dysfunction only continued. 
Physically attempting to write the piece was mentally draining. As I began to type, my fingers suddenly became paralyzed with fear: they were lost, abandoned, and without hope. They itched to let the words and the feelings flow, but they were trapped deep inside. My invincible walls would not crumble. The blank white of the empty word document burned my eyes.
Every so often a story would begin like a baby deer learning to stand; however, it was always shot down by cheesiness, underwhelming, and overnarration. My mind fell into a state of anguish and disarray, What is wrong with me? Why can’t I write something so simple? Is my life really this boring, this empty? For many days and many nights, I made countless failed attempts to create my masterpiece. The searing pressure and anxiousness only increased as my accidental procrastination continued.
         Suddenly though, my mom hatched the perfect idea, “Madi, why don’t you write a personal narrative about how you hate personal narratives?” The stars aligned, the angels sang down from heaven, and a wonderfully bright light illuminated the living room. The wheels of creativity had begun to turn.
       Bob Marley once said, “Being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure.” For me the most difficult part of writing a narrative is the forced vulnerability. Because of this, I, along with many others, go into a self-preservation mode which ultimately detracts from the quality of the piece. Although this form of writing is extremely strenuous, the challenge is necessary to understanding my writing journey and life journey. By changing my mindset on a small scale task like the personal narrative, I can learn to adapt to anything life throws my way. At the end of the day, we are our biggest obstacles. The only way to triumph is by consciously choosing to take the hard way and forget our fears, even if it is merely a personal narrative.   

by Maddie G., Grade 9



Artwork by Ali. H., Grade 9 

Regular Girl

                “I’m NOT doing that again. Last time I tried, I think I threw up when I got home.” I shift my weight from one foot to the other and try to sound resolute; it’s useless.
                “That’s because you were sick; you’re going. I’ll show you what to do and won’t let you fall.”
                This seems highly questionable since Kristina, my best friend since preschool, stands up to my chin. She is nimble and close to the ground and I … am not. Her dark eyes pierce my skull awaiting my assent, but all I envision is a catastrophe in super slow motion---the flailing arms, the desperate hands grasping at an unsympathetic wall, the awkward hips writhing to regain a center of gravity, the frenzied legs straining to stay upright, all crashing into a humiliating heap. Tangled on the floor, my legs refuse to unwind, weighted down by wheels of stone and stiff leather that locks my ankles straight … roller skates. Who ever thought this was a good idea? I squeeze my eyes tight and open them to the present reality of Kristina’s expectant face.
                To my surprise, I hear myself say, “OK.”
                The Frenchtown Roller Rink is a sight to behold. Unlike its competitors, which nestle in industrial parks, this rink perches high on a hill overlooking the Delaware River encircled by miles of green space. Rolling up the slope, our minivan wheels kick up gravel and crunch on the stones beneath. The river below packs the air with oxygen and the surrounding pastures allude to spring. The milky, blue-roofed building stretches across the summit, and I suspect the owners reside behind the shuttered windows on the second floor. As we enter, large metal doors groan and our noses transition from outdoor fresh to damp and musty. It smells a comfortable kind of old, as our eyes adjust to the dim light in the cinderblock room that holds the ticket booth.
                “In-line or regular?” The woman behind the plate glass speaks through a hole like the Wizard of Oz speaking into his microphone. Her slightly overbleached hair frizzes from her hair clip, touching the glass as she leans forward.
                “There’s two kinds of skates?” I fumble.
                She peers through her rose-rimmed glasses and assesses that I am definitely a “regular skate” girl; in-lines are for experts. I slide my money under the glass in exchange for a “regular skate” token and enter the rink.
                Kristina grasps her in-line token and nudges me toward the skate counter. The tousled teenager who glides behind it expertly sprays an unholy amount of shoe-freshener into interminable rows of skates. He smacks his gum, grabs a just-returned pair, and tucks the laces inside.
                “Size?”
                “9 ½,” I quiver.
                Within seconds, a tired pair of skates clunk onto the counter. They are the color and texture of an old camel with faded orange wheels. The coffee-colored laces are inexplicably long, and I wonder if he will ask me if I would like them frayed or knotted; all appear to be one or the other. We find a seat amidst bountiful mounds of sweatshirts and backpacks. Feet slide in, laces crisscrossed, and I swallow my fear. Kristina grasps my hands to help me stand, and I roll diffidently onto the rink.
                Hand over hand, the half-wall is my new best friend. I grasp it tightly for one quarter of the rink, before I realize with horror, that the remaining loop has regular walls with no railings. Kristina urges me forward, and I hug the bluff with the fingers of a mountain climber.
                “One-two, one-two, one-two!” Kristina chants as she floats across the floor. “It’s not that hard. Just push your legs up and out. Try to gliiiiiiide across the wood.”
                “I’m trying!” I proclaim with firm determination as my bulky skates clomp on the shimmering rink. I free myself from the wall’s gravitational pull for a few seconds until, BANG! A whirling spin, a clutch for the cinderblocks, for anything, followed by a tumble over Kristina’s small frame. I attempt to stand, but this results in a session of repeated stumbles on the floor. True to her word, my friend boosts herself up, and extends her hand to help. Little by little, my crashes transform into stumbles, and my clunks transform into something like a glide.
                I finally feel sufficiently confident to look up from my feet and note that the rink actually matches its YouTube description: “164 feet long by 74 feet wide of pure roller goodness.” The walls splash with a 1990s Solo Cup theme in teal, dusty purple, and lemon yellow, and the skaters within reflect a similar diversity. Lap 9: an agile 8-year-old flies by at rocket speed – backwards. Showoff. Yes, I feel intimidated, but I press on. Lap 12: a 50-year-old man, with long, layered hair and 1970s shorty-shorts rounds the corner with a flourish, but I am undaunted. Lap 16: the mime-like, goth guy with striped leggings passes me with a rush of air; scary, but I keep my nerve. Lap 22: the gray-haired rink official prods the skaters to leave the rink for a game. I take my cue to rest and use the bathroom.
                The bathroom is the pinnacle of the new skater’s experience. First off, you should know that door locks, soap, and paper towels do not exist. Bring a friend to hold the door and antibacterial wipes. Second, beware of toilet paper strands strewn on the floor like streamers after a party. They not only trip you up, but tend to trail behind your skates. (I don’t discover my straggling festoon until lap 25.) Third, know that the decrepit bathroom with its cloudy mirrors is probably designed to discourage you from lingering, and get you back on the rink. This proves an effective strategy. I exit and skate 20 more laps to the music of “Fireball,” “Cha-Cha Slide,” and “24K Magic,” among others. I coast under disco lights, fall under limbo bars, and count 3 changes in the skating direction. Kristina and I finish blistered and exhausted, but I have learned to skate.
                With my newfound skill and confidence, I grow to love the Frenchtown Roller Rink. I love the snack bar, with its two hot dogs slowly rolling on the cooker and the low level of popcorn that sits in the glass popper all week. I love the vending machine covered with fingerprints from “almost falls.” I love the game room with its faded pinball machines and its claw machine filled with under-stuffed animals and wax vampire teeth.  I love the lady behind the snack counter that looks astonishingly similar to the lady behind the ticket counter, the lady in the music booth, and the lady replenishing lost quarters in the game room. I tell you, that lady runs the place.

                For all its quirks, the Frenchtown Roller Rink holds a warm place in my heart, probably because it turned my fear of roller skating into a fun, retro experience. It is here that I stretched to try something intimating, and my friend stretched out a hand to offer support. The place reverberates with an acceptance of all types of people and all levels of skill. I also hold it in high esteem, because it embraces its community---its bulletin boards are plastered with posters of fundraisers for sick children and messages of support for their speed skating teams.  In a world of industrial businesses, I hope this place remains standing as a beacon on a hill that welcomes “regular skate” girls.

by Maddy K., Grade 9

Artwork by Alita L., Grade 8

                                                                                               




Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The National Poetry Month Post

April is National Poetry Month, and today we bring to you some poetry by Miss Levin's students.  This is one of two posts that we will feature this month, with some narrative writing coming soon.  What are you doing in classes to celebrate National Poetry Month this year?

Artwork by Chloe U., Grade 9

A Virtual Journey

As I'm searching through the options,
I see that I must do this the hard way.
There are only two choices
Each with tempting bribes.

I could take the easy way and the shorter way,
But this would result in poor quality.
I could also take the longer and more difficult way
And it would result in better quality

For the longer way,
I would have to travel through multiple destinations.
For the shorter way,
One location would do the trick.

Which to choose, which to choose?
The decision is ripping me apart.
At last I choose the long way,
And begin the journey

I make it through two destinations,
Only one left.
The final leg on my journey and I finally make it
To the Netflix homepage.

by Colette B., Grade 9

Artwork by Maya T., Grade 9

The Countdown

We come back to school
In September
Excited for the new year.
The new classes, new teachers
And new friends.
It’s fun and exciting
For the first week
Then reality hits.

We begin longing for the summer days
Where we would spend them relaxing
Hanging out with friends
Enjoying vacations
Getting tan
Staying up late
Doing whatever we want.

We begin the countdown
Until the day we get summer back
Journeying through ten long months.
Ten months of work,
Projects,
Tests and quizzes,
Persevering through it all
So we can reach the day

The day we get summer once again.

by Sara M., Grade 9
Artwork by Avery J., Grade 8


The clock strikes midnight,
And I know it's time to shine,
I tiptoe past my mom's room,
I fall down the stairs with a boom.
Thankfully, everyone was asleep.
I slowly creep.
                 Toward.
                        The.
                            Kitchen.
                            I'm so close.
                            Almost there!
 
                            I can practically taste the cheesesteak
                            I am about to devour.

                            I hear the fridge open and I know
                            I am not alone.

                            I am this close to dialling 911 on my phone.

                            I see my brother holding my cheesesteak.

                            I hit call --
                            This is why you don't take my food.

by Elena S., Grade 9

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

February Fire

The cold weather may be getting you down, but let our artwork and writing lift your spirits.  Welcome back for another month of Sevenatenine Literary Magazine!

Artwork by Madison G., Grade 9



Dawn

5:42 am the clock crashes off the nightstand, the nightstand that is only ever in use during the day. The sun has yet to rise, leaving the atmosphere still cold and dark from the wrath of the moon. Cool winds snake through the forest and birds ruffle their wings to make themselves comfortable in their beds of twig. The clock is desolate on the ground, dormant and waiting to be returned to the pedestal by the bed where is lives. Morning traffic passes on the highway as people lazily head to their long hours of work. Some more awake than others, some more lively about their occupations, but all weak from the tireless seconds of their days. Many up before their children are off to school, some still trying to nod off and get a few minutes of rest before morning official strikes. Dawn exists solemnly in the backyard of fall, and with winter approaching it creeps back. Sunlight streams in through small, broken, rhythmic rays of a majestic flowering earth. Lush fumes of morning meals caress the air and dance through a pilgrimage of those with nothing to eat. The morning is still sleeping and will continue to shut eye until dusk howls it awake. A heavy beating emerges from Earth’s core, a sudden reminder of our land’s pulse and breathing. Then a calm hush rolls over the equator and cataclysmically denotes itself as hero. And when the sun sets, the universe itself exhales deeply and waits for everything to occur again tomorrow.


by Shannon R., Grade 9




Artwork by Rafe P., Grade 7




A Strange Human Behavior

How odd the human body
A miraculous creation,
Left with reflex so cloudy
As to its motivation

The hiccups are an enigma
With purpose unexplained.
Held with disruptive stigma,
They really are a pain.

From within the world wide web
Comes forth ideas to fix
That from in our chest which ebbs
And flows with burps inflict’d.

All have been dismissed
As fiction from the minds
Of those who’re hiccup-kissed
With moment’s peace to find.

And as we all well know
They sometimes turn aloud,
As if the hiccups desired the glow
Of the eyes from a staring crowd.

Spasms from a muscle
Within the diaphragm
Make a person wish to tussle
With the lungs at hand

If one has never felt the fear
Of a hiccup hicc’d aloud
Or the eyes that follow, so austere
They're not from on this world

Reflexes left over
From primeval times
Useless in our tech-filled world
Of drones and pizza pies.


by Michael B., Grade 8


Artwork by Alita L., Grade 8

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Polar Vortex Post

            As we begin the new year, we mourn the winter break that is over and yearn for our next long break that will occur five months from now. So we have collected some writing that reflects the doom-and-gloom attitude of January and some artwork with themes of contrast. 

           In all seriousness, we have found some great poems and artwork for this month that portray several relatable ideas and emotions. (They also happen to be great for January.) 

Enjoy!


Dirt and Spoons

             It was hot. Very hot. The sun taunted us in the sky, peeking in and out of the clouds. Its rays were like streams of lava, burning our backs and arms. It felt like I was standing on the surface Mars or something. I wiped the sweat off my brow, crinkling my nose in disgust. “I think I’m dying,” I told my friend, fanning my face vigorously with my hands. 
“Me too. It's like an oven.” We stood in the cool shade of a maple tree, leaning on its rough bark. The sun poked through holes in the trees canopy, casting a jigsaw pattern of sunlight on our faces. There was no escape from the heat. I surveyed the playground, searching for something fun to do amidst the boiling weather. The black top in the distance had become an ocean from the heat, as though water had been poured onto it by the bucket-full. My attention turned to a patch of trees to our left. 
“Hey… what are they doing over there?” I asked, pointing to three kids huddled on the dirt. 
“No idea,” My friend said. “Do you wanna go see?” I nodded with a gap-toothed smile. The two of us padded over to the children, craning our necks to see what they were doing.  They sat crouched in a circle on the dirt floor, each armed with a spoon or a stick. I turned to my friend for explanation but saw the same look of confusion plastered on her face. “What’re you guys doing?” she asked, peering over the kids’ shoulders.
One of the children looked up at her. “We’re digging, duh,” one of the boys said. I gazed at the center of their little circle. As the boy had said, they were digging, a small hole forming in the cracked dirt. Next to it there lay a pile of dust, topped with a few pebbles and tufts of grass. 
              “Why are you digging? It’s just dirt. What's the point?” The boy looked at me as though I was an idiot.  
               “We’re digging to China. My brother told me he did it once. You just have to keep digging for a super-duper long time and one day you’ll get there, and we’re totally gonna get there,” he said matter-of-factly. I glanced at the miniscule dent in the ground. 
               “You’re not really far.”  
               “That’s why were gonna keep digging today and tomorrow and after tomorrow and forever. Plus, there’s three of us, so it'll be way faster.” That kinda made sense. If you kept digging, you’d have to end up somewhere, right? I looked at my friend. We had nothing else to do. 
               “Can we help?” I asked. The boy thought for a moment then nodded. Gingerly, he reached into his pocket and pulled out two plastic spoons from the cafeteria, offering them to us as though they were blocks of gold. My friend and I took the spoons, smiling. The other kids scooted over to make room for us, and we joined them in their digging circle, not minding the dust and dirt that would stain our clothes. From there, we dug.  
               The ground was coated with a layer of soft dust, so the first few scoops with the spoon were nothing. But the deeper we dug --which still wasn’t deep at all -- the harder the ground became. I hardly noticed the sun melting my back. All I could focus on was digging. Could we really get to China? How long would it take? What does it look like? I had a million questions. I knew nothing about other countries. After all, I was only six. “Will we actually get to China?” I asked. 
             “Of course we will, don’t be stupid.”

by Nicole S., Grade 9


artwork by Madison G., Grade 9



Road Trip

10 hours straight
Of suffering in a car.
At least I have my phone with me,
And oh! my precious chocolate bar.

Damn it
My phone just died!
This can’t be happening! What am I going to do?
I won’t be able to survive without my phone on this trip,
Would any of you?

At least I still have my chocolate- which I plan to save
Until we reach our destination,
But still at the beginning of the trip, it went soft because it’s so hot outside!
And UGH I swear it made me so mad.
I can’t believe the luck I’ve got- and with nowhere to go,
I almost cried

10 hours straight
Of suffering in a car,
Without the pleasure of using my phone

And a melted chocolate bar.

by V. Djambova, Grade 9





artwork by Faith C., Grade 8


Alone In My Mind

A lone star lights up the starry night. 
The final flames die in the embers,
The warm coals heat the air around.
Alone in the dark. 

Owls pitch their sounds to the eerie silence,
Foxes scurry among the vast fields,
Deer nibble on bushes far off, swallowed by the moon.
Alone with the thoughts that scratch in my head. 

Alone in the dark outside.  
The trees reach for the moon,
But only a few can hear their monotonous cries.
Alone with the thoughts that pry open the mind.

Alone in the mind, where none can escape.
The forest hushes its final goodbyes,
As the mind consumes what's left inside.
Dreams drift to far-off places.

The wilderness dies as the morning sunbeams rise.
The animals scurry away. 
The mind eases back to its natural state,
Like the animals receding to their caves.

Alone in my mind.
Alone in the woods and the darkness inside. 

by Amanda C., Grade 9