Working together is best While working in Student Council, I've learned that you can get things accomplished and it's easier to work together in a group for the common good. This is the universal principle of unity and, as a young Bahai, I have learned to respect others and to try and serve my school community as well as my country.
We each have a purpose in life, and when you help out in your community you recognize relationships that bring us together with other people. We get to hear lots of different ideas and opinions and problem solving occurs. Student Council has given me some experience in leadership and allowed me to explore and share my ideas.
Once, we were searching for an activity to bring all the students together in a fun way. I came up with an idea for “Crazy Hair Day” as a fun way to build school spirit. It was a success! The students were excited to be in an all-school activity which increased our appreciation for differences and each other's individual ideas.
It's important that people appreciate differences and understand that our distinctions make us strong, capable and powerful. This is important to me because I have a disability that you can't see-dyslexia. I have had many challenges while mastering school work. I never give up. It is difficult sometimes, it makes me sensitive to the needs and differences of other students. Laura Baker,Sixth grade winner, Evanston YWCA, Young Women's Leadership Awards
I love life
I love life. It is a gift with surprises just waiting to be discovered. This year I have learned so much about life and how to make the best of the hand you are dealt.
In the fall, after a tough loss in the run for seventh grade president, I learned my first lesson in coping with disappointment. I have found that I can still work as a leader in school, no matter what position I hold.
Later this year, as swim team got into full swing, I had my work cut out for me. I needed to drop 6.45 seconds to qualify for the district meet. A week before the deadline, I had dropped the 6 seconds, but the .45 was still present. My need to reach my goal overwhelmed me. The deadline came and went with no change. I had never worked harder for any goal and though it didn't turn out the way I had hoped, I made tons of new friends, dropped tons of time, and learned how much everyone cared for me.
It may have been a rocky road, but I learned more about life than I could have prayed for. I have become a stronger person from all of my experiences, good and hard, and live life with genuine passion. No matter what happens, when there are dreams, life is good. Maggie O'Leary, Seventh grade winner, Evanston YWCA , Young Women's Leadership Awards
My faraway friend
I have a friend who lives far away We talk together mostly everyday Sometimes I wish I was there Sometimes she wishes she was here Even though we're far away We always seem to find a way To see each other once in a while When we see each other we smile Even though we get into a fight We never hold a grudge too tight Cause we get bored without each other And get tired from just playing with our brother And that friend turns out to be My smart, beautiful and fun cousin Cindy!
Jeanine Varilla, 9, Des Plaines
Book teaches us to learn from the past
Ghost Soldier, by Elaine Marie Alphin, is a story about a boy, Alexander, who joins his dad on a visit to an old friend, Mrs. Hambrick, and her family. Alexander's mother left their family, and the Hambricks' father died. During their stay in the South, Alexander meets a ghost, Richeson Francis Chamblee, who needs help finding out what happened to his family while he was away fighting in the Civil War.
In the process of putting the puzzle together, Alexander learns that history was not just about the past, but about people. Richeson was a young boy, fighting in the war to protect his family and home. Family was important, no matter what.
While helping the ghost, Alexander finally becomes ready to become part of a new family. Alexander learns to accept the truth of his past. The past and present become intertwined.
The story teaches a valuable lesson, that we can learn from the past to shape our future.
Noel Fortman, 8, Westmont
Love that poetry
Want to try a different kind of book? Pick up Sharon Creech's Love That Dog. This is the first novel Creech has written in free verse poetry and it's a good one.
The book is about a boy named Jack who is writing poetry in school. The book is set up like a poetry journal with dated entries. At first, Jack doesn't want his classmates to know which poems he wrote. He thinks people will make fun of him. After he realizes people are saying good things about the poems, he decides to put his name on them.
Jack's journal entries are like conversations with his teacher. Through them the reader learns what Jack and his teacher are thinking. Jack's teacher shares famous poems with her students and Jack talks about those poems (they are printed at the end of the book). One of them inspires a poem about Jack's dog. Jack likes one of the poets so much that he asks the poet to visit his class.
I liked Love That Dog because reading a novel in free verse was new to me. It was a quick read and it kept my interest. You'll have to get the book to find out about Jack's dog and whether the poet did visit his class. Sharon Creech, one of my favorite authors, has written another book in free verse called Heartbeat. It's definitely on my
reading list. Sara Burklow, 12, LaGrange Park
I am really happy when ...
I am happy when I take a bath. I like to play in the tub. I like to get my hair wet. I like to stay in the tub. To me, I like the bubbles the best. My toys like it too because they like to be clean like me.
Kennedy Horton, 6, Chicago, Primary grades finalist, National PTA's Literature Reflections Program
The upside of a learning disability
This may sound strange, but having a learning disability has helped me become a better student and person and has given me the opportunity to develop leadership skills. Before my teachers realized I had a learning disability, one teacher made me cry when I couldn't finish a quiz. I've also been teased-some kids called me stupid because it was hard for me to do schoolwork.
In school, I hope to educate my peers about people who have learning disabilities. When I hear it being used as a dis by another student, I try to shed light on what learning disabilities are. Next year, I plan to start a program that teaches others what learning disabilities are.
Through all my experiences I've learned that whether it's at the global level or in a school, one person can make a difference. Maggie Lupton, Eighth grade winner, Evanston YWCA, Young Women's Leadership Awards
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