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A New World

12 Feb

A Group Story written by Lighthouse Young Writers, grades 4 – 8, for the half-day intensive, New Year, New World: Emily Harrison, Zoe Smith, Sam Tompkins, Emma Graham, Nichole Dutmer, Kinri Watson, Kira Voelker, Tessa Maruyama, and Lucy Earl

Edited By Workshop Instructor Cara Lopez Lee

Power-hungry villains lead our society, enslaving the peasants, hunting those who control destiny. We all live in the land of Etheria. Here are the powers in our world of superheroes:

First there are The Healers. They are the leaders of our people. They can heal anything, so they charge money.

Next are The Victims. They have the superpower of unluckiness. They are the followers, slaves, sickly ones, the majority of the population.

Third there are The Owls. They have the power of sight, to see all, change all. The fates of the kingdom lie in their hands. There are three.

Victim – by Emily Harrison

Victim. It’s an awful word, yet it controls my life. Being a victim is depressing. I am a nobody, not unique, not a leader, not one of those who binds the rope of destiny.

My mother calls to me. She was given to me on my day of birth. We have no loyalty towards one another. I can only hope she doesn’t sell me. I am a slave, akin to whatever misdeeds the healers force me to do. I run to my mother in the hopes that she hasn’t sold me in exchange for food and trinkets, baubles and sweets.

She stands in the doorway as I sprint up the steps, smiles with those yellowing rotted teeth of hers. She shuffles her feet, scuffs her boots on the porch, looks down, hides her smile, glances up. She tries to hide her happiness, but a sliver shows through, and then a bit of guilt. She’s done it.

She hides when a rough hand pushes her out of the way. A rogue, a Healer.

When I was a child, my sisters told me stories of men. I’d never seen them before. I’d never heard a deep voice, smelled a blend of woody security.

The men were Healers, few and far between. They were strong, born into power by a single bloodline, diverted by birthing mothers everywhere. The Healers were our leaders, but they did so out of fear. They could heal all, but instead they only healed those with money. Then they harbored it. They were the rich class.

But with the power of clumsiness, weakness, and vulnerability, victims like me are the girls, the elderly, and the crippled. I’ve been told that all girls are weak. Even so, since a very young age I’ve worked the fields, done odd jobs to the point of developing buff arms, a tight stomach, gorgeous thighs, and a speed very different from that of my kin.

Owl – by Zoe Smith

My clan is The Owls. I am nineteen years old. I can change fate. I watch silently. We are hunted. Now there are only three Owls left. The Healers are the bosses, dictators. The Owls have the power to see all. We are being killed by the Healers. The last, lowest class is the Victims. They are weak and helpless. They have powers no one wants.

Two Owls having children always results in another owl. However, a Victim and a Victim almost never have an Owl. When they do, the parents and the baby are killed by the Healers. If two Healers have children, they will mostly be Healers, but if they produce a Victim, they throw their baby away.

I know both of the other Owls. One is a male, the other a female. I believe that if we convince the Victims, we can go to war. The problem is that the Healers are nearly impossible to kill due to their powers. The female Owl, who wishes to be called “The Woman,” has realized the Healers are working on becoming immortal.

I hide out in trees, caves, and leftover animal hideouts. Owls have a strange charisma with animals, so it isn’t hard to get food or a place to stay. I’m going to meet up with my fellow Owls in a gigantic oak tree. My ancestors sensed something like this would happen, so they hollowed out a hiding place. The Victims and the Healers don’t know about it.

War – by Sammy Tompkins

I, an Owl, blessed with foresight, saw the kingdom as a house divided, destined to fall. The reason for this is that the Healers had too much power. The other Owls agreed with me and started a revolution, allying us with the Victims. The Healers responded by passing martial law and having four gallows built in the town square.

The Victims were sent as spies to make the Healers unlucky. Many Victims were caught and executed, but the ploy mostly worked. When we first met the Healers in battle, they were unlucky and they lost. The tyrants had a whopping thirty-three-percent casualty rate and ran with their tails between their legs.

We got overconfident and pursued them. They were able to regroup and were ready for our assault. Our attack was a failure. Most survived on our side, but forty-one percent were captured and gradually put to death in ten mass executions.

After the other prisoners’ death sentences were carried out, the other two Owls waited. Then they were led out of their cells to the town square. They stepped on the ladder to the gallows. A healer tied them up to nooses hanging from the wooden structure. The ladder was kicked away. The Owls had to endure the slow strangulation of suspension, hanging for forty-five minutes until they died. Then they took the limp bodies to the chopping block, beheaded them, stuck their heads on pikes, and paraded with them through the streets. Their bodies were burned.

I found myself the only Owl after the execution.

Owl and Healer – By Zoe Smith and Kinri Watson

Part of pretending to be a Healer involves taking daily walks. Beck doesn’t do much walking, but still. The path through the edge of the forest winds, but is still relatively flat. There is an oak tree, a giant one, up ahead. Beck rolls forward and her wheel catches on one of the tree roots. She tips towards the tree and her shoulder hits the rough bark. Everything is still for a moment, and then the tree falls away and Beck thumps against the earth.

Inside the tree, a woman curses and forcefully places her glass on a wood table. “Who’s this?”

A young man steps toward the woman, looking at Beck with wide almost amber colored eyes, owl’s eyes. “A Healer, probably,” he says coolly.

The woman’s eyes narrow. “Get it out of here.”

But Beck will not leave without the Owl. He’s why she came. He’s the key to ending the war.

Healer – by Emma Graham

Bailey ran through the forest and swung himself onto a tree branch. He was actually proud to be a Healer and was confident that they were definitely the best. He loved to do thinking up in “his” tree.

Bailey watched the sun as it slowly crept up into the day. He was determined to have a lot of fun today.

Back at his house, he convinced his father to drop him off in the city. The convincing took a while because his dad did not want his work disrupted. He wanted to heal patients and make money.

Once in the city, Bailey checked out the skateboard shop and bought a new skateboard for the skate park.

At the skate park, he got ready to skate, but stopped and took a look around him. What he saw wasn’t that pleasant. Yes, the sky was pleasant, but he kept seeing the Victims tripping, getting hurt, even getting splattered by bird droppings. Bailey decided they should get treated better and was determined to make that happen.

He told his mom about the idea of the Victims getting treated better and she just laughed.

Later, he heard his mom mention the Healer Meeting to his dad, and he got an idea…

Healer and Owl – by Emma Graham and Kira Voelker

A couple of days after the Owl was captured by the Healers, they held a meting to discuss it. Lucky for Bailey, his parents told him to come and he didn’t have to ask them to let him come, for they might have been suspicious—though they should have been suspicious anyway because Bailey didn’t moan about it.

When Bailey arrived, he saw the captured bird and went up to it. “Why is this here?” he said.

The bird glared at him.

“You know, you’re a strange bird and not the nicest either,” Bailey said, and turned away.

“Can’t we all be nicer?” the bird replied.

Bailey had never heard a bird talk before. He whipped his head around, but came to the conclusion he was hearing voices.

“Well, excuse me!” the Owl spat, reading his thoughts. “I have an opinion too!”

At this point, Bailey was quite angry with the Owl, and was relieved when the meeting started.

His father, the leader of the healers, announced, “Yesterday, a good friend of mine, Henry, found this bird and discovered it is in fact one of the three talking Owls. So, what we are going to do about it at this point is destroy it.”

The Healers cheered, but Bailey felt bad and edged closer to the cage. He exploded with anger. “Is this how you treat people, and birds, with no respect? The Victims deserve better. The Owl too, even though he’s not that nice.” He slammed his hand onto the lock.

The Owl exploded out in a flurry of feathers. “Come with me, Healer child.”

Bailey looked at him and yelled, “No! This doesn’t mean we’re friends. I just want everyone to have a better life. Now shoo!”

And the Owl just soared away.

Victim & Healer – By Emily Harrison and Nichole Dutmer 

I was brought to a caravan, looked up, made prisoner by that man, that Healer, who infiltrated my home. I am worried. Where are we going? Why did the Healer take me from my home? What will the Healer do with me? I am cold, starving, alone in this prison. So I weep in fear, and try to let blossom the hope that I will escape.

A noble looking girl was thrown into the stall next to me. I wonder, What did she do wrong? Why is she here? As I watch her sit regally on the floor of her stall, legs folded, eyes closed, peaceful in meditation, I let slip my questions.

“What superpower do you have?” I softly ask.

She looks over at me and, in a strong voice, says, “I am someone to be scared of. I may be victim, but I may not. I would tell you more, but I find myself in a predicament.”

I widen my yes. What is the dilemma? Why is she so calm in this place of evil men?

I ask, “Why are you here? What’s the matter?”

Tentatively she answers, slowly she voices, “I am looking for a magician…”

“Why?” I interrupt.

That’s when I realize, she is no Victim.

What Happened to the Clans of Etheria – By Emily Harrison, Zoe Smith, Sam Tompkins, Emma Graham, Nichole Dutmer, Kinri Watson, Kira Voelker, Tessa Maruyama, and Lucy Earl

The one surviving Owl got the Victims to join him in trying to defeat the Healers. They started by leading protests and riots against the Healers. Although two of the Owls had been captured and executed because of the declaration of martial law, that just made the remaining owl fight even harder than before.

As a last resort, the Victims and the Owl agreed to rely on their superpowers to fight the Healers. But then the Owl snuck out on a journey to find a magician who would solve everything. With his gift of sight, the Owl saw a spark of purple in the distance and flew to it.

The distant spark of purple darted toward the Healer compound. The spark turned into a magician. At the urging of the Owl, the magician threatened to take the Healers’ powers away unless they revived the two dead Owls.

The Healers were left with no choice but to bring the Owls back to life.

The Owls gained new wisdom after their deaths and gave equal power to the three groups, including themselves.

Or so they believed…



New Young Writers Always Welcome

18 Nov

Sofia Martinez makes her Young Writer Debut!

Dear Death,

I beg of you, don’t take me now! I haven’t seeked  the keys of life! My quest has not been finished. I’m not even at the peak of my fame! The first time you tried to take I fought and won the war while lying in the hospital’s bed.  You came to me in a dream and told me that it was time to go. You told me I must let go. But I can’t. I can’t let go of my words that rhyme. You can’t take me now! Look at all that I have accomplished. Please don’t ignore my medals and honors. You must listen!

Your cloaks of black have shadowed my life for many moons.  Your eyes are deep pools of pale milk. Only showing the people you have taken. Can’t you spare my life? I need only enough time to finish all the things I have started.  I plead of you oh mighty Death. Spare my life!

With much pride,

A sick poet

It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s our young writers’ SUPERHEROES!

18 Nov

Through our collaboration with the uber-cool people at Buntport Theater and The Art Students’ League of Denver, we are bringing young writers’ superheroes to life on the page and on-stage. Don’t forget to send submissions for a Superhero of your own–the deadline for contest submissions (whether you’re submittting an origin story about your superhero, a drawing, or both) is November 22! You can see full guidelines here. Check out one of our fave origin stories about a tree-green recycling diva, written by 4th grader Anna Brandner, below, and click the “Superheroes!” link at left for more superwriters.

Green Girl Saves the Day         

by Anna Brandner

Jess was walking in the park, and it had so many flowers, that it looked like a glittering rainbow.  All of a sudden she came upon a blueberry colored petunia. She thought, “That is the perfect one for my room!” So she picked the pretty petunia. She decided to smell its divine smell. All of a sudden she felt different. Quicker than you can say hallelujah she was up in the air flying! “Cool!” she said to herself. Then she saw a piece of trash. She went to pick it up but it zapped into a water bottle! Jess was confused. “How did that happen?” she asked herself.  She bent down to pick it up, but it zapped itself into a recycling bin. This was awkward. Was there something in her breakfast this morning? It had tasted fine. She decided to act normal. Could she be a super hero? The super hero of recycling! She could call herself Green Girl! Perfect! So that’s what she was going to call herself.

Then she went to go get a flower to put in a vase, when she came across a bud that hadn’t bloomed. She floated towards it and it bloomed! “That must be another one of my powers!” she exclaimed. She needed to find a costume. She found a tree green shirt, some pink and green striped pants, and a brilliant orange cape. She took petals and made recycling signs on the cape. “Perfect!” she yelled.

All of a sudden she saw some bugs, they were flying like pesky mosquitos. They were the “litter bugs.” She had to stop them, but how? She picked up some flowers like a bee collecting pollen from a flower. She inched towards them like a caterpillar on a leaf. She put the flowers right up to their noses and… achoo! They blew back as fast as a rocket. Then she picked up all the trash with her powers. Green Girl wondered how to turn back to Jess, the regular girl, in a regular town, who goes to a regular school. Where did that flower go? The one that made her turn into Green Girl? She flew back to the grass. “Oh, there it is,” Green Girl said. She lifted the flower to her nose, sniff! The wind blew and POW! She turned back to herself. Then she tucked the flower in her pocket, just in case!

Joy’s Joyous 101 Class

16 Nov

Last month, Joy Sawyer gathered with a small, but mighty group of young writers to put together sophisticated poems, bust out some short funny stories, and pull cool words out of a bucket. Here’s one of the class’s fabulous collaborative pieces:

Persuaded In the Ferril House Backyard

–a Youth Writing 101 collaborative poem,  in response to Robert Francis’ “Summons”

Trees overhang a portion of the area, shedding dappled light

across long-forgotten chairs.

Here: The red wall of rough-hewn stone that tastes and smells

of the very earth from which it came.

It wasn’t that they all forgot; It was that they didn’t remember.

I picked up a rough wood chip and put it in my shoe.

The yellow leaf on a tree is the minority to all the red leaves.

Hear the air conditioner, the voice in your head,

saying “Come. Come.”

Red and gold leaves crunch under my feet

as I move toward the beautiful, green-leafed tree.

We discovered life. 


–October 23, 2010

Written by Youth Writing 101 students: Morgan Marzulla, Sam Eagleburger, Lillian Lungren, Maia Freedberg, Zander Velleca, Jorel Hill, Aiden Goldberg, Cassidy Cole

Why can’t I think of something to write?

15 Nov

by Jorel Hill

Even as planes crash,

guns shoot,

five million or more movies

are watched,

five thousand books finished,

aliens making their plan,

endangered animals

protecting their hive,

a piece of licorice eaten,

a lot of scientific stuff,

the sun blazing,

the solar system blazing,

the galaxy blazing,

the universe blazing

with ideas.

But why can’t I think

of anything to write?




–Written during Youth Writing 101

Stories from Cole

1 Nov

As part of our fall outreach program, we’ve been working with a group of 7th and 8th graders at Cole Arts and Sciences Academy, collecting stories about the Five Points neighborhood we at Lighthouse (and the students at Cole) call home. Click on the CASA link at left for some of their stories!

Get After It!

6 Oct

Attention all wordsmiths! Enter these two contests to win prizes and pride:

The One Book One Denver Contest (write about something that disturbs you!). HURRY–the contest deadline is FRIDAY, October 8!

The Superhero Drawing and Writing Contest (we’ve partnered with the Art Students League of Denver and Buntport Theater to incarnate your most wished-for superpowers!)