Category Archives: Creative Writing

Creative writing from Patterson’s Fathom Magazine

This year, Patterson students have been writing original narratives, poems, and personal essays in both our Creative Writing Club and our Creative Writing Class. Their hard work is being collected and shared both on our online literary magazine ( and, now, here in the Patterson Press. If you would like to know more about how to participate in either the class or the club, see Mr. Ritter in room 352. Enjoy reading and keep an eye out for the first print edition of Fathom, our school’s literary magazine, by the end of 2023.

“When I’m 18, I’m Gone” by Fanie Tenezaca-Montesdeoca

“When I’m 18, I’m gone”. I remember getting my brother mentally ready for me to leave when I turned 18, telling him what he would have to do if my dad had one of his anger issue attacks and put a hand on him, how to manipulate him in order to survive living in hell, how to put up with all the bull**** in order to not give up. I would show him my ways and share my experiences to make it easier on him because I’ve been through hell and back.

Growing up with divorced parents was hard. Picking what holiday I would spend with my dad and which ones with my mom, or even which parent I would take if there was a parent conference or graduation. Not only that, having to raise my brother was harder. It’s nothing I regret but while I saw little girls playing outside with their dolls and enjoying their time, I was inside making milk bottles for my brother. I always wanted to be that girl who looked so happy, looked like she was loved and was just enjoying her childhood. There was a time where I created a hate toward my parents because of everything they couldn’t give me and for taking my childhood away from me.

My dad was the selfish one. Yes, he brought food to the table but he never took the time to sit down and talk to me. He never told me how proud he was of me. He would always criticize, looking for every chance to tell me that I wasn’t good enough, that I would never make it. My mom is a very loving person but a very insecure person. She was so insecure that she also always pointed out my flaws. My mother created my insecurities: my nose, my stomach, my weight. I wasn’t good enough for her either. My mom was the cook which meant she would give the other kids good meals but I was on a strict diet that she created. Sometimes I didn’t’ even eat. I would spend hours looking at myself in the mirror, crying because I felt like I wasn’t enough, asking myself if I looked differently would my mother love me and not compare me to my cousins. She wanted me to be a perfect young woman that knew how to cook and clean. She was preparing me to be a good wife for a man and be ready for marriage. She always said that my husband should never touch anything in the kitchen because that was our job as women.

I thought a parent was supposed to support you, have your back, motivate you. Well mine did the opposite. They unmotivated me and created a thought in my head that I wasn’t good enough to go to college. The biggest dream I had of going to college was crushed for a time because of them. I always dreamed of going to college. It was something that I knew I wanted to do and it would be my biggest accomplishment. It would prove that even if I went through hell I could become something without anyone’s help. My mindset has changed through the years and struggles. I’ve become better and know my worth. I know what I want and I know that I can accomplish it. My mentality has grown a lot and slowly the thought of, “When I’m 18, I’m gone” has also changed. I realize that I have overcome so many negative lessons and that every lesson made me a Strong Independent Woman. I know I am enough. I know that I will accomplish all my dreams.

“?” by Anonymous

My being is not worthy of love

It is a vessel of melancholic music

Feelings that are unexplained

And no light in its darkness

There is no one to explain to

No one to understand

It is just I

Sitting in the depths 

Of my own mind

Watching through my eyes

As I think of the things

But my mouth utters differently

But there’s no reason to hear my truth

So I keep living this life

As a passenger.

Untitled by Anonymous 

You already know, you are my best friend.

The morning will come again, No darkness and no season is eternal.

Maybe it’s the cherry blossoms and this winter will end. 

I miss you.

I miss you.

Wait a bit, just a couple more nights.

I’ll be there with you

I’ll come for you. 

Through the edge of cold winter until the days of spring come,

until the days come when the flowers bloom. 

Please stay, please stay here a little longer.

“Jenni’s Cry” by Anonymous

Jenni’s cry

Jenni shakes her dignity, sobs until tears run down her cheeks, and

The breaking of waves in the distance and the waking of birds are the only other sounds.

She has beautiful kids, A beautiful house, and deep dignity, but she must keep her word, and she won’t sleep until then.

She was lying in bed, weeping how her husband took her confidence and her dignity.

She got up from her dreadful bed, her mind was full of sad thoughts, and she worshiped death.

Prepare for the new day with endless anxiety and the thought of her husband coming home. 

“Untitled” by Mula 

In the depths of the ocean blue, where light is scarce and darkness true

Lies a world both eerie & grand 

Mysterious, untouched by man’s hand 

Down below where creatures roam

In fathoms deep, far from home

Whispers echo through the waves 

As mermaids sing & sea monsters play 

The pressure builds, the current swirls 

As schools of fish in unison twirl

And coral reefs like castles stand 

Guarding secrets of this underwater land 

A world of wonder yet so unknown 

Where the mighty whales make their throne 

And ancient creatures lurk below 

In the fathoms deep, where few dare go 

So if you ever find yourself at sea 

And hear a call from the deep blue sea 

Remember there’s a world down there 

In the fathomless depths, beyond compare.

students share their dreams for essay contest

Patterson students are participating in the fourth “Dream Big” essay contest, hosted by the Model Lyric. In honor of President Barack Obama, the Modell Lyric is asking students to share the important dreams they have for their lives, communities, and families. Students in grades 5th-12th living in Baltimore City and Baltimore County are eligible to enter the contest with either a 300-word essay, a one-page poem, or a 60-second edited video. Between 5-10 selected finalists will have the opportunity to share their work and receive a $100 honorarium.

Here are some of the essays Patterson students have submitted so far:

DeJanae Moore

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is something good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

In Baltimore, Maryland, our murder rate is very high. People in Baltimore kill over dumb things. Bullets have no names at all. I believe everyone should learn how to forgive and forget and not hold grudges. Families lose someone they love very much, because people hold grudges over others, but “there is evil in the best of us and good in the worst of us” (Martin Luther King, Jr.).

People hold grudges and take people’s loved ones’ lives away. How is that fair? How is that right? People are like this, because of the bad childhoods they have. They get upset and take it out on anybody – shooting bullets with no names!!! Earlier this year, I lost a close friend to gun violence, because some boys held a grudge towards him instead of forgiving and handling it correctly. They took his life and it all starts at a young age. I really wish everyone knew how to forgive. I lost a very close friend because of it and it hurts me the most. If everyone in the city would squash their problems and childish beefs, the murder rate wouldn’t be how they are now honestly. People wouldn’t have to lose their loved ones if everyone learned how to forgive.

Our problems aren’t all about violence we had a presidential election and our former president held a grudge towards our new one. Many people know this story. Donald Trump, our former president, did things that could have led to WW3 – many supported him and many did not support him. When election time came around, Trump lost to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Trump refused to accept defeat.

He is holding a grudge towards Biden for winning the election and becoming our next president. Political problems and violence are not the only problems in America today. There are many more – racism, human rights, etc. Everyone knows blacks were once slaves; some blacks still have not forgiven the whites which can cause much violence, etc. For example, white cops killing young black men and young black children, because of the past with blacks and whites. If they were able to forgive and forget, all of these things that are happening today would not be happening.

In conclusion, I agree 100% with what Martin Luther King, Jr. said about forgiveness. There are so many problems with the world today, because people don’t know how to forgive and forget. There are some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. This quote is so true. There are many bad people in this world with so many good intentions; there are so many good people with bad intentions. It shouldn’t be like this in this society.

Hailey Guerin

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best
of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

ln the quote above, Martin Luther King Jr. explains how we should learn to accept the failure of others and see more good in people. I think accepting others and realizing that no matter how bad we may have messed up, there is still good in everyone.

I believe it’s important to have the ability to realize that we all make mistakes and shouldn’t be held accountable forever. Forgiving others doesn’t mean we are pushing aside what they may have done, however it means that we are accepting the fact that something conflicting happened, and if we don’t move on from it, we’ll never grow or find the good in things. Finding the good in people and things can be really hard sometimes” And there are
some circumstances where that person is too evil to see good in, but that doesn’t mean you betray them, instead you portray kindness to them. Although they may have done something horrible to you, that doesn’t give you the right to do the same to them. “Two wrongs don’t make one right. Two wrongs won’t right a wrong.” Said by Benjamin Rush. When we’re seeking revenge, we’re making a mistake, because it’s only going to make you feel better in that
moment. Not in the long run. ln my city, Baltimore, Maryland, we have an extremely high murder rate. lt’s like everyone’s out to kill each other for no reason. Just the other day, someone got shot on the corner of my street. When I was little, I could play outside with my friends, feeling safe, secured, home. Now, I can’t even go on my porch without seeing some kind of suspicious activity. lt’s really sad to see the city I grew up in go downhill so fast. Why is everyone so angry at one another? Why do people think that murdering someone is going ta solve the problem? lnstead, it’s going to make it worse.”

We all deserve love no matter our skin color, religion, etc. Under no circumstance should anyone be treated differently for something they can’t control. When the election was going on, there was a lot of protesting. The two main debates that were being protested were Trump or Biden, but with these names came along with lots of stereotypes. For example, voting for Trump basically meant you were racist, against LGBTQ+, Trans rights, and the BLM movement. And voting for Biden basically meant you supported LGBTQ+, Trans rights, and the BLM movement. I’m not saying that these stereotypes are true nor false, however, I believe that everyone has a voice. Everyone deserves to be heard. Why is it that we can’t have our own opinion, without having to protest? Around my neighborhood, protesting turns into rioting, and killing. lt turns dangerous. I don’t think we should have to protest about basic rights, or even politics. We as
individuals need to learn how to accept the fact that no one is perfect. Even the most put-together people aren’t quite put together all the time.

ln conclusion, learning to seek good in the worse is so important for many aspects of not only your life, but others too. lf we all take our time and slowly learn, we will come together as a better community.

Amari Dukes

An important dream I have for myself is to become a doctor and help many kids and adults with cancer. I’ve always had this dream ever since I was a little kid. I always wanted to help sick patients, sick people that have a disease, and sick people that have a disease that may or can kill them. The reason why this dream stuck with me is because I’ve seen many kids suffer in hospitals, because of cancer – especially babies. Babies can’t do anything when they’re sick. They can’t talk to tell you what’s wrong so it’s really sad. They have to sit and suffer until someone who can help them really helps them.

I want to become the first African-American female doctor to ever find and make a cure for cancer. The reason why I want to become the first female doctor to ever find and make a cure for cancer is because the kids won’t have to suffer anymore. Those doctors who fight for their own lives or risk their own lives just to help sick patients won’t have to worry about it anymore. I personally don’t like seeing people suffer even if they did something bad in their
past life. That still doesn’t give them the right to suffer. At a time like this, we don’t need the
extra pressure.

This is my dream. I hope everyone takes my words and use them as an inspiration to others in different cities and in different countries around the world. My dream for my family is to get them out of this cruel world once and for all. When I get my money from being a doctor, I will buy a big house for all of us. I will make sure that the area that we live in is a better place and more importantly a better environment for all of us. It will be more peaceful, no drama, no violence, and most importantly no gun violence. Hopefully, I will inspire others with my words and my dreams.

Satrina Thomas

I have many big dreams in my life and for my family. First off I hope in the future I become wealthy and very successful in life. I want my family and me to be in good health. I wish for the future to be better than today. I wont to hove a nice house, a kid, and be married to the love of my life.

My dream job is to be a veterinarian and for that to happen I need to do hard work for thot to come true. Hard work always pays off. There is this vet show I watch and its called Dr. Pol and he inspired me to help animals and show animals that they con hove a second chance in life. I used to walk my dog every day until she got this lump on her pow and I don’t want her to walk so much. I hove a strong connection with animals and I toke core of my dog every day but I do not toke core of other people’s dogs. I don’t wont my dog to suffer as much.

I want to be able to provide for my family for whatever they need. I want to help out the poor and to just be a good person. I want to make a change in the future and be a role model for anyone and for kids to look up to me and be like “Dang, I wont to be like her one day!” l just want to be the best person I hove ever been before. I want to make the world as peaceful as it con ever be. I want love all around the world and to show people who they truly are. That there is always a person that truly loves them and never gives up. This is my big dream for me and the future.

Alpha Camara

A dream I have for myself is to be able to buy anything I want for myself as a teen. I want to have a car and an apartment for myself. I’m going to do this by investing, getting a job, and managing my money in a responsible manner. I want to have my own car by the time I am 19-21 and I want to have my own house by 20-22. I want to have a job that pays me well so I will live comfortably as an adult.

I dream of buying my mother a house and car as well. I want to invest in the stock market and one day get a job in it. I want to be able to vacation like a cruise in the Caribbean, the tropics, Mexico, Japan, and/or some cool place in Europe. As an adult, I want to live somewhere in the US where there are palm trees like Florida and Arizona. I also want to live somewhere where it is hot, there is a beach, and where I can buy a nice house/condo for myself.

I dream of donating a lot of money to a legitimate charity. I want to get one of my dream cars “a foreign” and I want to have a dog, probably a pit bull, a German shepherd, or a Rottweiler. I want an overall comfortable, chill life as an adult. What I need to do right now at 14 years old is focus on school, starting to make money, and learning how to manage my money. My plan right now is to start a bank account, try my hand at stocks, buy things that I want/need during my high school career, and upgrade to making this a job.

Overall, I want to have a successful adulthood. My main goal is to be happy and comfortable as my life goes on. I plan to make this dream reality within a few years, and not to have to worry about being broke or depressed.

Ivyanna Anderson

Dreams don’t always come true in the world unless you push yourself to work hard and study hard for what you want to do in life.  My father loves to work with cars.  He had to work hard in school for it.  He had to work hard, study, and push through all the hard, difficult times in life just to become what he wanted to do without college.  A huge dream of my stepmother was to be in a medical field.  She had to study hard, get good grades, and go to college getting her degrees to be in the medical field.

My dream is to spend at least one day with my father as a daughter Daddy date with no interruptions.  For my dream, I just want to be able to be a teenager, go out, have fun, and do stupid stuff as teenagers should.  I don’t want anything more but to be a physical therapist and to be free in the world.  A big dream is to have a family and be happy with a loving husband.  My dream is for all the bad memories and nightmares to go away.  I wish for no financial problems and no health issues in my future.  My dream is to have a job with good pay, a home with no problems, and a family with no broken pieces.

Where do I start with my dream for my community?  Let’s start with how people should stop killing people over stupid stuff such as a dollar.  An example of a real life situation: my best friend Ty’quoin Jones died from gunshots over a few dollars at the age of 14.  I dream for kids to be able to play outside – for kids to be kids and not want to be gangsters.  I don’t want these girls growing up being “thots” and used for their bodies.  What many people call life is not life at all.  Where is the happiness?  Where are the hard working people?  I’m tired of people dying, because they’re smart or because of nothing.  I’m tired of kids not able to be kids, because of all the killing, robbing, sex trafficking, and abuse.  When do kids live?  When do kids have fun in life?  I dream for racism to go away.  I wish for black culture to be able to be free and live their life till they can’t anymore.

A dream poem: I dream for a world with love, hope, and care.  I dream for a world we all can share.  I dream for love, peace, and harmony for a world you can live and be free.  I dream for highs to be goals and lows to be nos.  I dream for people to see with their eyes but all I see is people don’t care that other people die. We scream, we shout save our lives but no one hears our suffering cries.

Jabria Allen

Hey, my name is Jabria Allen and I want to talk about more of what I want to do and what I do. I have been doing hair since I was 10 with my mom but I really started taking this seriously when I turned 12. I have been receiving clients from then to now I still have the clients from then. I want to say that I’m very thankful for my clients and that I’m proud of myself and my braiding skills.

So let me tell you about braiding: you would have to make sure the parts are straight in neat and when you get clients you have to make them feel comfortable have nice conversation make them give you good reviews because of how you treat them and how you did their hair. Also, when you do hair you can’t like do it when you feel like it so when you start you are going to have people coming to you DMing you saying they need you to do their hair.

More about my business: when I get older I will build a hair studio and have good workers in my shop that do good hair and I’m planning on working on my my business with my mother since she does good hair and she’s been doing this for over 13 years, so I really look forward to doing this with my mom. If there are any girls that would like to do braiding class with me, I could show you how to do it. And not only that–starting this year I will also have books that you can look through and it will help. I’m also looking forward to start everything starting in 2021: new year and new beginnings.

Because of the pandemic it has been a little hard for me to reach and achieve my goals, but no matter what the situation is, I’ll never stop what I am doing. I dream that one day I will wake up and say “I made it–my dream came true!” I will never let down my supporters who been with me from the start. This is something I look forward to. I’m going to make my mom and dad proud, make them feel like I’m not just growing up to do anything. I want to achieve my goals and I dream that one day I’ll have best clientele.

Jordan Blair

My name is Jordan Blair.  My dream is to become a police officer, have a family, and be happy.  I want to live in California, go to the beach, enjoy life, have fun with my family, take care of my Mom, teach my kids right from wrong, and go out and chill with my friends.  I want to be something important in life, give back to my community, and the homeless people.  My community is bad.  Every day someone gets shot or killed for nothing.  You can’t walk outside in peace.  It’s always someone trying to hurt you, when you leave your house.  You got to watch your back, don’t tell strangers where you live, and don’t let people know you have money.  That’s the reason I go to school – to get an education to make my family proud and have a better life.

Becoming a police officer gives me an opportunity to help to uphold the law and help the community to become a better place.  Watching the news every day and seeing all of the crime in the community I’m always thinking of ways to help in the community – going to outreach centers and community centers and showing the young people there is a better way than committing crimes.  One of the hardest things is getting people to trust you and understand.  Corruption is very high in the police department and the only way that will change is hiring people that are honest, committed, and faithful that will help to change the police department.  We have to come up with homicide strategies by keeping recently arrested felons from returning to the streets.

Resumen de mi Vida (Spanish)

Por Jeysi

To read this article in English, click here:

Yo soy una chica hondureña de 17 años, nacida el 27 de Septiembre del año 2002.

En mi familia somos seis.  Tengo dos hermanas y un hermano.

Cuando yo vivía en Honduras, nosotros teníamos vacaciones durante el año escolar.  En mis vacaciones mi familia y yo visitábamos a mis abuelos por parte de madre.  Nosotros manejábamos durante cinco  horas en automóvil para poder llegar hasta donde ellos vivían.

Cuando tenía cinco años entré a estudiar a la escuela primaria, no era de hablar con mis compañeros.  Yo prefería estar sola o estar a mi hermana. Completé mis  6 años de escuela primaria en San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Luego comencé la escuela secundaria en Honduras.  Cuando terminé el segundo año de mi escuela secundaria, mi madre decidió emigrar para Los Estados Unidos. Después que mi madre se fue, yo me quedé viviendo con mi padre y mis hermanos.

He tenido la oportunidad de lanzarme del canopy a los 14 años.   Fue el canopy más extremo de Centroamérica.  Está localizado en La Campa, Lempira de Honduras. También tuve mi fiesta de 15 años.  Fue una celebración pequeña con mi familia.   Meses más tarde me enfermé de gastritis, gracias a Dios mejore.

En el 2017 termine el tercer año de secundaria. Y, en el 2018 me cambié de colegio y entre a Preparatoria elegí mi Carrera que fue contaduría y finanzas; conocí nuevas personas las cuales son maravillosas e increíbles. También conocí a mi mejor amiga se llama Marlén, con ella salíamos de compras, salíamos a tomar un café, íbamos al cine, nos vitábamos, nos tomábamos muchas fotos, la pasábamos increíble estando juntas.

Tristemente, me informaron que mi tía tenía cáncer por todo su cuerpo y para enero del año 2019 lastimosamente falleció. Fue un golpe muy duro para mi vida emocionalmente, al fallecer  ella, yo entré en una depresión.  Yo no quería hablar con nadie, estuve en tratamiento por varios meses.  Yo estaba muy triste y me pasaba llorando la muerte de mi tía constantemente.  Yo necesitaba de mi madre, pero para mi mala suerte ella estaba lejos de mí.  Fue por esa razón que mi madre decidió traerme con ella a los Estados Unidos.

Dejé mis estudios en Honduras. En mayo salí de mi país rumbo a los Estados Unidos. Sin embargo, caí presa en México y me deportaron para Honduras.  Algunos meses más tarde  nuevamente salí de mi país.   Esta vez mi padre me acompañó y logramos pasar gracias a Dios. Entonces pude reencontrarme con mi madre y conocer a mi pequeña hermana Génesis.

Tengo cuatro meses aquí en Estadas Unidos.  Estudio en Patterson High School.

Aunque estando con madre me siento mejor emocionalmente, me gustaría ir de visita a mi país para ver a mis abuelos y amigos que extraño mucho.  Pero,  luego volver con madre y estar con ella.

Recuerdo que en Honduras yo asistía a la iglesia Evangélica y Reformada.  Aquí he tenido la oportunidad de encontrar una iglesia similar a la cual asisto ahora. 

Una de mis metas desde la niñez ha sido graduarme de la universidad.  Confío en Dios que así sea.  

Summary of my life

By Jeysi

Translated from Spanish by Ms. Jaen

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí.

I am a 17-year-old Honduran girl, born on September 27, 2002. There are six family members in my immediate family. I have two sisters and one brother.

When I lived in Honduras, we had vacations during the school year. On my vacations my family and I visited my grandparents on my mother’s side. We drove for five hours by car to get to where they lived.

When I was five years old, I started elementary school. I was very quiet and I did not talk to my classmates. I preferred to be alone or to be with my sister. I completed my 6 years of elementary school in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Then I started high school in Honduras. When I finished my sophomore year of high school, my mother decided to emigrate to the United States. After my mother left, I stayed with my father and my brothers.

I have had the opportunity to do a tree obstacle course at the age of 14. It was the most extreme tree obstacle course in Central America. It is located in La Campa, Lempira, Honduras. I also had my 15 year old party. It was a small celebration with my family. Months later, I got sick from gastritis; thank goodness I got better.

In 2017 I finished my third year of high school. Then, in 2018 I changed schools and I went to a different high school. I chose my career path in that school.  It was accounting and finance; I met new people who were wonderful and incredible. I also met my best friend. Her name is Marlén.  We went out shopping, we went out for coffee, we went to the movies, we had dinner, we took many photos together, and we had an amazing time together.

Sadly, I was informed that my aunt had cancer throughout her body.  She passed away in January 2019.  It was a very difficult time in my life, emotionally.   When she passed away, I got depressed. I did not want to speak to anyone. I was in a treatment for several months. I was very sad and I was constantly crying over the death of my aunt. I needed my mother, but she was far away from me. I felt that I was having a bad luck episode. This was the reason why my mother decided to bring me to the United States with her.

I stopped my studies in Honduras. In May, I left my country for the United States. However, I became a prisoner in Mexico and was deported back to Honduras. A few months later, I left my country again. This time my father accompanied me and we managed to pass to the United States, thanks to God. Then I was able to be with my mother and meet my little sister, Genesis.

I have been in the United States for four months. I study at Patterson High School.

Although I feel better emotionally with my mother now, I would like to visit my country. I would like to see my grandparents and friends, who I miss very much. But then again, I want to come back to my mother and be with her.

I remember that in Honduras I joined the Evangelical and Reformed church. Here I have had the opportunity to find a similar church that now I go to.  Graduating from a university has been my goal since childhood, and I trust in God that it will happen.

Telling my story

by Francine Moke

Things happened to me when I was in Uganda and this is my story.

One day I was with my friend at home.  Then, there was one friend that came to pick us up to play soccer.  We went to the playground.  There was a crazy woman who was always sitting near the road.  We were playing and then the crazy woman threw us something like a small ball.  One of my friends took it and started to play with it.  Then he said that it started to get hot and it was burning his hands.  We all came to see what is happening, so at that time we saw it.  It was made of steel and other metals.  One of my friends said that he knew what it was because he saw it in the movie, and it kills.  The one who was playing with it said that he’s lying to us.  We ran far away after we heard that it kills people.  There were two who remained there playing with it.  They were throwing it with each other.  So, in a few seconds they threw it down.  Then it exploded.  One died and the other broke his leg.  We who were far away had some small metal fragments enter our bodies.

At that time we couldn’t hear anything because it was so loud.  The ambulance came and took us to the hospital.  I was at least okay, but others were in bad condition.  There were about ten children who were playing soccer.  They took the crazy woman to jail and they found out that she was not actually crazy; it was her mission to kill us.

BONUS CONTENT: Student Bookbinding Contest winners

Here are the cover pages and inside spreads from all of the winners of the Patterson bookbinding contest. More information is available on the front page of the May 2016 print edition of the Patterson Press.


Tale Of A Little Fish Boy (FICTION)

By Jamal Artis

My name is John Oaflea. I’m 12 years old and I am a fish boy. I live with my older twin brothers, James and Walt Oaflea. They’re 15 years old. They are the fastest fish boys in our village. James is the oldest twin and he is the sneaky, jealous brother that wants everything for himself. He is jealous of Walt because Walt is faster than him. Walt is the sweet, nice twin that cares about everybody and loves his two brothers. He knows he is faster than James but he doesn’t let it bother him because he’s the mature brother.

We have races. Sometimes I come in last place, Walt comes in second and James comes in first. After we are done racing we take our fish that we caught for the day back to our parents’ shop so our father can scale it and clean the fish. We get paid for how many or how big the fish are. I can catch 10 to 15 fish a day, Walt can catch 30 to 40 a day and James can catch 20 to 23 fish. But James steals mine sometimes and in laughs in my face. Sometimes when James steals my fish, after he leaves Walt gives me half of what he caught to make James jealous. At our family shop we sell lobsters, clams, and crabs but our best seller is the shrimp and fish. Everyone loves shopping at our family store. It’s the best seafood market in the village.

One day my brothers went down to the lake to go have a race, Walt asked me if I could cover his shift at the shop. I said, “Yeah, I got you, brother”, I needed to spend time with mom and dad anyway. They went down to Old Bay Lake where we always went to race because James always wants to prove he’s better then us. I would always say yes to a race to him. So Walt and James walked down to the lake and I stayed at the shop with our parents. I started to help my dad with scaling and gutting the fish, then when I was done cleaning the fish I took it to the front so my mother could put the spice on them. She told me I can go to the front so I sell stuff. I was a little scared at first but I soon got the hang of it. I sold 30 fish for 25 dollars, 8 clams for 4 dollars and 15 lobsters for 45 dollars.

It had been a little over 2 hours when the King of our village came into the shop. The King and my father were good childhood friends. All of a sudden, I heard a voice say “Daddy!”, It was the King’s daughter. She had long brown hair, light brown eyes and had the voice of an angel. Her name was Pariss and she was 13 years old and the princess of our village. She was the King and Queen’s only child and they were very protective but they trusted me because the King and Queen had known my parents for years and they would approve If we went out some time. The King and Queen asked my parents if we could go hang out together. They said “yeah”, but I was scared to talk to Pariss. Father give us a bag of gold and told us go have fun. So me and Pariss walked down to Lake Boo. While we were walking, Pariss was trying to talk to me. I was so nervous to talk to her. She asked me if I want to go throw rocks into the lake and I shyly said yes, I was thinking about how my brothers got girls because I was embarrassing myself in front of her. She asked me if this was my first time hanging out with a girl. I lightly shook my head. She smiled and said, “It’s okay. This is my first time hanging out with a boy as cute as you.” I blushed at her and I said I was happy hanging out with a pretty girl like herself. She blushed at me and lightly kissed me on the cheek. I started to smile. Suddenly, Pariss looked up with a worried look on her face. “Did you just hear something behind those trees?”, she asked me. I told her she was just imagining things and I put my arm around her and walked with her down the shore.

While we were down at the lake, our parents stayed at the shop and talked to the King. The King asked my Father, “Remember the deal I was forced to make years ago with the evil king that lives on the other side of the lake?”. My Father said, “Yes. It was about Pariss getting married to his son, a Prince who has a long, hard-to-pronounce name but who goes by the nickname ‘Juice’.” The King said he didn’t want her to be forced to marry Juice. “I want my daughter to marry whomever she pleases. But if I donít tell Pariss before her 18th birthday she is going to be heartbroken. I have to tell her sooner or later.”

When me and Pariss walked back it started to get dark, Then she saw a shooting star in the sky. She hurried up and pulled on a big rock and told me to make a wish, I wished this would never end. Pariss held my hand tight and made her wish. She kissed me said she loved me and would never leave my side. I smiled and agreed. She asked me if I wanted to be her boyfriend. I said yes and smiled and I asked her, “Do you want to be my girlfriend?” She quickly responded, “Yes!” and she smiled at me.

When we walked back to the store our parents were nowhere to be seen. I opened the door to the shop and what I saw shocked me. Both of my parents, the King, and some customers from the village were all tied up and gagged.

Out of the shadows stepped a sinister-looking man who scowled at me. “I am Prince Juice”, he announced, “and Pariss belongs to me!”. He pulled out a sword. I tried to grab it but he swatted me aside. Juice said, “any last words before you die?”, when he tried to strike me with his sword. His blade sliced through a thick rope from a fishing net that was hanging from the rafters of the shop. All of a sudden, the rope that Juice cut threw came around and wrapped around his neck. He stumbled backward and knocked over a heavy iron anchor that was leaning against the the other end of the fishing net. The weight of the anchor pulled on the rope and it hoisted him up in the air and hung him up like yesterday’s laundry.

The fight was over before I even knew it. My heart was beating so fast from my own fear. I couldn’t even think straight. I realized the fight was over and that monster was gone for good. I ran over and untied Pariss. I asked her if she is okay. She said “yeah”, She noticed a few cuts on my arm and face. I said I will be fine. Pariss said she loved me, and I said “I love you too”. She lightly tried to pick me up. I said, “My legs hurt. I can’t walk.” She yelled for my brothers for help. Walt had arrived at the store just a few seconds earlier and he came running to help us.

Walt freed our parents and the others and met back up with us. Walt ran over and helped me up. After checking to make sure we were alright, Walt said, “I’m going to go look for James. He was angry when I beat him racing earlier and he stormed off. I don’t know where he is now. I hope Juice didn’t hurt him.” Walt disappeared around the corner.

A few minutes later I noticed a muffled sound coming from the storage room in the back of the store. “What’s that?” I asked, and everyone shook their heads, puzzled. I walked into the back room to check out the sound. To my surprise, I saw an old man, tied up and gagged. “Wait a minute!”, I exclaimed. “Aren’t you Juice’s father–the king from across the lake?” “Mmmphhh!!!”, the man murmured, unable to speak with the gag on. I untied the gag but not the rope that bound his hands. I didn’t trust this king. “Thank you.”, the king said. “What are you doing here? Who tied you up?”, I demanded. “I came to warn you. My son, Juice, received a visit this afternoon from your brother, James. James told him that you and Pariss were falling in love. James always had a crush on Pariss and even though he knew she was betrothed to my son, I guess he got jealous when he saw you with her. He told Juice about it to get revenge on you, and Juice immediately grabbed his sword and sailed across the lake to confront you and Pariss.” “But why would you want to warn us? You’re the one who was forcing Pariss to marry Juice!”, I said, refusing to believe his story. The king slowly shook his head from side to side. “There is much you do not understand, my boy.”, he replied.

“A father always loves his son, and in a way I will always remember Juice as the innocent baby I once held in my arms. But the truth is, my son is a monster. When he was only 6 years old, he began torturing and killing animals. I tried to teach him right from wrong, but he only got worse. By the time he was a teenager, he began to terrorize the local townspeople. He was ride through the village on his horse and demand everyone’s gold. If they didn’t give it to him fast enough, he would stab them with his sword or trample them underfoot with his horse. Even if they did everything he told them to, sometimes he would still attack them anyway. He got a sick kind of pleasure from inflicting pain on other people. The townspeople begged me to do something about him, but I was afraid of him too. The last time I had tried to punish him, he put a knife to my throat and threatened to kill me if I ever tried to control him again. The look in his eyes was like something I had never seen before. I knew he would really do it.” The king shuddered at the memory.  “Then one day, the king of your village came to visit me and discuss some issues that affected both of our kingdoms. He brought his beautiful young daughter with him. Pariss was only a child back then, but Juice had an evil mind and he decided right then and there that he would have her as his wife when she came to age. That night he told me that if I didn’t make Pariss marry her, he would murder me and, as the new king, declare war on your village. I knew there was no way to talk him out of it. I thought of killing him in his sleep but I couldn’t bring myself to murder my own son. With a heavy heart, I forced your king to make a deal against his will.”

“You see, for hundreds of years, my family has owned the lake that both of our villages use as a source of fish and drinking water. Our kingdoms have lived in peace with each other for many generations and my family has shared the lake with your people in exchange for a small yearly fee that your king pays to me. After Juice’s threat, I told your king that unless Pariss married my son by her 18th birthday, I would forbid everyone in your kingdom from using the lake. Families like yours, who rely on fishing to make a living, would be ruined. Worse yet, there would be no drinking water for your people. Everyone would be forced to move or die of thirst. It would mean the destruction of your entire village!” I stared in shock at what the king had said. Pariss’ father had never told anyone but my father what the deal was that he had been forced to make.

The king said, “It broke my heart to force your king’s hand this way, but I didn’t know what else to do. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to think of a way to stop Juice, but when I saw him going after you, I knew I had to warn you. I knew I didn’t have much time, so I took a short-cut across the lake by sailing in-between some jagged rocks. Many sailors have been shipwrecked on those rocks and Juice had taken the safer route around them. Normally I would never have done something so dangerous, but I knew what Juice was capable of and I was determined to reach your village before he did. Fortunately I made it through the rocks unharmed. But just as I got close to the shore, a strong wind blew me off course. I rowed desperately toward the docks, and after a long time, I finally managed to dock my boat. But I was too late. As soon as I stepped ashore, a hand grabbed me from behind and before I knew it, I was bound and gagged. Juice had landed a few minutes before me and saw my boat coming in. After tying me up, he snuck into your parents’ shop through the back door and stashed me here. Then he went into the main part of the shop and pulled a sword on the King. He threatened to cut his head off unless everyone in the store sat down against the wall and didn’t make a move. He tied them up and waited for you and Pariss to return. And you know the rest.” The king ended his story with a sigh.

“Since you are here instead of Juice, I must assume you had to kill him. I don’t blame you. I wish I had had the courage to do it myself, years ago. Still, I can’t be happy about the death of my son, even if he was a monster.” Tears trickled down the king’s face. I wiped the tears away with my handkerchief and I untied his hands. “Juice is dead, but I didn’t kill him”, I told the king. “His neck got caught on a rope.” The King nodded. “I’m sorry for my role in all of this”, he said. “Now that it is over, I hope we can all put the past behind us and be friends again.” I nodded. “I have one more question, though. Where did my brother, James go?”

As soon as I had asked the question, I heard a commotion at the front door. “Let go of me!”, I heard a voice shout. It was James. I ran to the door to see what was going on. Walt and my father were holding James by his arms as he struggled to get free. “I found him hiding outside the shop”, Walt explained. “He must have been spying on us.” “He tried to run away, but James never could outrun me”, Walt added with a sly grin. James cursed loudly. After a while, he stopped struggling and a defeated look came over his face. Walt loosened his grip on him and my father let go of his other arm and looked him in the eyes. James looked back and then looked down at the ground, ashamed. “I never meant for anything to happen to you or Mom”, James said. “I was just sick of always being the loser. I had just lost a race to Walt and I went to the other Lake to be alone. And what did I see but my dorky little brother hitting on the girl of my dreams. I couldn’t take it anymore!” “That was you we heard in the bushes”, I asked? “Yeah”, James confirmed. “After that, I went straight to Juice. I was so angry, I didn’t think it through.”

After a long pause, James said, “Look, I’m sorry, OK? I’ll make it up to you.” My father looked at James sternly. “You’ll make it up to ALL of us, for a very, VERY long time.”, he said angrily. You can start by burying Juice. Then you can clean up this mess.” He gestured to the shop floor, which was covered with objects that had been knocked over in the fight. James groaned. “Oh, and one more thing”, my father added. “For the next three months, all the money you make for catching fish will be used to pay for Pariss and John’s wedding!” “I can help with that too”, said Pariss’ father with a smile. “As can I”, said Juice’s father. “It’s the least I can do after everything that’s happened.”

I looked at Pariss we both smiled. I new my wish had come true.



Incarceration does not deter drug use, student survey suggests

by Nila Strong,

Edited by Ms. Kirsch’s Creative Writing class

This semester, our Creative Writing class received a visit from Ms. Kelly Burke, Patterson’s Sr. Rehabilitation Therapist through the Department of Community Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. She spoke with us about drugs and how they can affect our minds and bodies.

Her visit inspired us to look deeper into the issue, so we created an unscientific anonymous survey that asks questions about drug use and drug possession laws. For example, we asked questions like “Do you feel putting people in jail makes them stop using drugs?” We found that, of the almost 200 people we surveyed, 161 believed that putting people in jail does not make them stop using drugs. People wrote down their reasons for their opinions. Many said that they knew people who had gone to jail and had just as easy a time getting drugs in jail as on the streets. One person wrote, “We are doing this [putting people in jail] but I haven’t seen something change.”

Yet those surveyed, mostly Patterson students, did believe that many drugs are dangerous and that laws should be changed, not to make drugs more accessible, but to keep people safer.

We came up with the questions by having discussions about drugs and possession laws. We asked each other questions and we brainstormed, too. Creating and administering a survey was a great way to find out more about an important topic.


Lost (POEM)

by Shaniera  Scott

Lost in a pool of emptiness
I search but I can’t find
I cry but there are no tears.
Who is this girl looking back at me in the mirror
A product of mothering gone wrong or
A strong woman yet to come?
Lost in a pool of emptiness…
I see this girl everyday
I am this girl
But do I know this girl?
Lost in a pool of emptiness…
And damn it I can’t swim.
All that I’ve known or what I thought
I’ve known has vanished before my eyes
The prayers, the hopings, the unheard
Cries; ALL lost in a pool of emptiness
No longer familiar with how things used
To be but all the while trying to
Know that girl that they call ME, confused
And overwhelmed yet curious to know the cost.
I’m not hiding y’all I’m…


My pain of the soul (POEM)

Original poem by Alex Hunt,


Anger is something that takes over the mind

Something you just can’t hide but try

To sit back and find

And give it time


Sadness is what comes within it make you

Face look dim and it make more sins so try to trim

Before you repent so make the happiness come within


Hate is a thing that gives the soul pain

It will feel like rain and always heal before it peels




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