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Four FTHS Students Earn Recognition in APP Essay Contest


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Four  FTHS students earned awards in The Asbury Park Press’s October Student Voices Essay Contest.  Junior Ally Knighton earned first place with her essay, “Roots,” while freshmen Emily Hicks earned second place with her essay, “The Last Days of Wildwood.”  Freshman Morgan Peller and sophomore Alyssa Granito were both runners up. Read all four  essays below.

 

Ally Knighton’s Essay, titled “Roots”

Junior Ally Knighton

Junior Ally Knighton

Georgia peaches.

You’ve never had one until you’ve had one.

Before my father moved to the North, he lived in a one room cabin with no running water or electricity in the hot belly of Georgia. Now, the house has been torn down and a national park founded around it. When he talks about it, there isn’t nostalgia, just acceptance.

The farther you drive past this park, the closer you get to the hub of where half of my history begins. Cuthbert, Georgia, with a stagnant population of 3,600 is where my oldest fibers grew, lived, and died. It’s design is pre civil war; after slaves were freed my family had settled in and created the ex slave town.

Upon seeing Cuthbert, I noticed it was cheery and plain but unnaturally quiet. The windows of the old plantation doors looked locked as to never let out the secrets. The faces of doors were stark, stoic. The corn and wheat that grew stayed still even in the breeze. The only thing that looked pure was the peaches.

Further into Cuthbert, the roads turn dark orange and modernization disappears. My dad didn’t need a map or his GPS, he followed his memories back to the church where my family has been buried for the last few generations.

Despite the heat, bugs and muggy air, I looked down around the church and saw the stone blocks adorning my family’s names. I didn’t recognize most but the way my dad swiped his fingers across, felt the imprinted letters, made me realize they were special. We approached my great great grandmother’s grave, the one people say I look like, and my Nana handed me a peach. My first.

I bit in, and surrounded by my family, living and dead, I felt like I had roots. Just like the tree my peach came from had, just like my family bustling around with flowers for the graves had, just like how those buried right here in this town had. The best memory was realizing where most of me came from, and how I could always find my way back.

 

 

Emily Hicks’s Essay, titled “The Last Days of Wildwood” 

Emily Hicks

Freshman Emily Hicks

 

I was crammed in the backseat of the car with everyone’s luggage surrounding me, but I didn’t care. We were almost there. Five minutes left, four, three, two, one, and finally we made it. I jumped out of the car cheering with excitement, “Wildwood, Wildwood, we’re finally here in Wildwood.” As a family we went to Wildwood every year. But this time felt a little more special, probably because it was the last time I was going to vacation there. Wildwood is one of the best summer vacations I’ve ever had.

Our days at Wildwood were always entertaining. We’d spend hours at the beach just relaxing and having fun. My dad and I would always run down to the wet sand to try and build a sand castle in the water. The closet thing we ever got to a sand castle was a big pile of sand with a stick on top that eventually got washed away by the waves. I would watch the castle wash away and then run into the ocean after my cousins. My cousins Ryan and Joey would pick me up and put me on their shoulders’. Ryan and Joey would throw me over the waves and splash me with the water. We’d soon tire of the water and walk back up to where all the adults would sit. Our day would end with a long walk up from the beach back to the house.

After the beach everyone would shower and eat a quick dinner and then rush to the boardwalk. We’d scramble from place to place. First it was rides, then it was ice cream or cotton candy, and finally it was the arcades and games. My uncle Richie would play games with me and I’d get prizes left and right. Stuffed animals, bracelets, candy, you name it and I had it. By the end of the night everyone was tired and wanting to go home.

Once again, I was crammed in the backseat of the car with all the luggage surrounding me, but this time I cared. As my parents said goodbye to my family I counted down the time. Five minutes left, four, three, two, one. Wildwood was over.

 

Morgan Peller’s Essay, titled “The Unexpected Catch”

Morgan Peller

Freshman Morgan Peller

I stared straight into the horizon making an attempt to calm my nerves, but all I heard was the disturbing sound of the boat’s motor. When I looked down I saw the waves, it seemed that each wave was larger than the one before it. As if to taunt me. On my left was my brother, Zachary, and on my right was my Grandpa. When my brother saw my facial expression he sensed my anxiety. He insisted that he would protect me should anything go wrong. It  helped calm my nerves and I decided to try and overcome my fear.

After the captain informed us that we could now sit in the jump seat, my family insisted that I go first. I took a seat and my Grandpa and brother tied a safety belt around my waist to keep me secure. They briefed me on what to do in the event of a fish biting. They emphasized that I would have to be ready to reel.

 After I sat there for a half hour, I began unbuckling my safety belts to let Zachary have a turn, when the captain started yelling that there was a school of fish ahead and to prepare myself. I took a deep breath when all the lines went taut simultaneously. We all reeled as quickly and with as much force as possible. After the four longest minutes of my life I had caught a 4 pound king tuna fish. I looked at my brother and I could tell something was different, his was no tuna fish.

The captain ran to the top of the boat to see what my brother and Grandfather had on their lines. When he told us that Zachary had a sailfish and my grandpa had a barracuda. After seven more minutes the barracuda was in the boat but not the sailfish. After a half hour battle the 180 pound sailfish was caught. After taking pictures with the fish, we threw the fish back in the ocean because that was the law. Overall, this was one of the best summer vacation experiences because I not only overcame my fear of fishing, but I had a great time doing it with my family.

 

Alyssa Granito’s Essay, titled “Sunrise” 

Alyssa Granito

            The sand warms my bare toes as I gaze out at the sapphire sea. My eyes droop as I fight the fatigue zero hours of sleep threatens to bring upon me. The night before, four of my closest friends and I stayed up to watch the sunrise in Long Beach Island as a last farewell to summer, not quite thinking through the effect it would have on the first day of school the next day. It didn’t matter to us, though, because this vacation was an annual tradition we had waited for since June. Watching the sunrise on the beach has become something we do as friends each year. Every time we experience daybreak, it gives us the opportunity to cherish a quiet moment with each other that does not happen very often. Even without words, we still connect and bond over something unique and beautiful. As a brisk morning breeze flows through our hair and makes our bleary eyes water, we simply stare at the sky as it opens into an aurora of pastel colors. The blazing sun finally begins to rise as more jewel tones of rose and topaz fill the cloudless sky. My best friends and I stare at one of the most captivating sunrises we have ever seen as the first seagulls of the morning call to each other as if to make them watch it, too. These innocent moments are what define our friendship and give us something to remember for a long time to come. This memory has quickly become the best summer vacation experience I’ve ever had because I got to spend it with the people I care about the most. I may see these four people countless times throughout the summer, but watching a sunrise with them is more special than all of these experiences combined, for it symbolizes something more that a regular day cannot. As the sky swells with unpredictable, captivating hues each day, our lives burst with new adventures that strengthen our relationship and make our friendship last a lifetime.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Four FTHS Students Earn Recognition in APP Essay Contest”

  1. Mrs. Lanza on October 30th, 2015 6:13 pm

    Thanks for publishing the articles. Congrats to the winners- great job!

    [Reply]

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




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Four FTHS Students Earn Recognition in APP Essay Contest