Four FTHS Writers Recognized by APP

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Four Freehold Township students were recognized for their entries into the March Student Voices Essay Contest from the Asbury Park Press.  Jenn Davenport and Mackenzie Kean, both IB juniors, won first and third place, respectively.  Lauren Sangalang, also an IB junior, and Maddie Doran, a Global Studies freshman, each won Honorable Mention. Check out their winning essays below.


Jenn Davenport’s “I Am Their Only Sister”  jenn

My family’s complicated, not broken, but very, very complicated. I am defined as the species titled “middle child,” which means I see and know all. As of 2016, my older brother works in a job he does not know how long he will have, and isn’t enrolled in college because he doesn’t know what career to pursue. My little brother, half a decade younger than me, has a mental disorder, and sees therapy every Monday. My mother is bombarded with calls from fed up teachers, complaining that he is failing half the classes he takes. As a sister, this is how I describe my family.

However, the memory I would keep is the time someone else described my family. My dad’s aunt Ro lives in Bronx of New York, fifty four minutes away from where I was born in Staten Island. She lives in a retirement home, a total of ninety two of age. As most elders are, her memory is extremely hazy, so we must always remind her who we are when we visit her.

I remember one summer sitting down with her and my family in her home. We told her our interests in life, and all about our accomplishments. She heard of my love for writing, my older brother’s OCD problem, and my younger sibling’s tenacity to finish video games. She smiled, leaned back in her chair, and turned to our parents. “What beautiful children you have risen,” were her exact words. Beautiful. Beautiful was a word that means so much to mean, but I have never applied to myself. Aunt Ro barely knew us besides from what we decided to tell her that day. She didn’t know one of my brothers could not find himself, and the other just wanted to be lost all the time.

Being told that my brothers and I were beautiful is one of my favorite memories. Family is the foundation to life, and life is only built upward from there. If I lost all memories altogether, I would want to always remember that the bottom of my tower was solid, not broken. Maybe we’re complicated, but we are so beautiful, and I plan to never forget that.


Mackenzie Kean’s “Snowflakes that Never Stop Falling” APP2

Memories are so precious, so fragile- they fade faster than they happen and happen faster than they are captured. Every breath is something new to remember.

I could tell you about the first time I had salt water taffy in Atlantic City, or the time I lost my first tooth, but these moments can all be seen in pictures- they can be remembered without even remembering.

But, a seemingly simple memory that I would never want to release from my grasp would be the day my sister and I travelled through the tundra. The journey was long and cold and unforgiving. Our mission was to protect the world from the Ice Queen who was conspiring with the snowy elements to destroy life as we knew it. We trudged through miles and miles of wet, heavy snow that had us collapsing from exhaustion. We fought grand polar bears with glistening swords and faced icy, sharp snowflakes that nipped at our flesh. We were so young to the world, but already wanted to conquer it.

We seemed to already understand what being a hero meant which seems almost impossible to believe considering our swords were only icicles that we had knocked down from the roof of our house; and our grand polar bear was only our small puppy who was easily lost beneath the white blanket of snow; and our mission to save the world from destruction had only been built from snowflakes falling in our backyard.

Yet, it was a moment that I would never want to let freeze over. It was a moment of pure bliss and innocence and happiness that was full of a laughter between two sisters that could almost be considered unforgivable. A laughter and love filled with smiles and heavy breaths of ice- breaths I would never want to forget the taste of.


“From Sinister Sediment to Compassionate Canine” by Lauren Sangalang

There is nothing worse than the classic phrase parents use to traumatize their children’s conscience. The archetypal, “We’re not mad, but disappointed”, somehow that line, before the prolonged lecture about responsibility that parents give, transforms one’s mind from being guilt-free to guilt-ridden. But when parents are on the receiving end of their pioneered line, a daughter/son could only wonder if it leaves them with the same daunting side effects. For as long as I can remember, the one thing that results in the raising of both my voice, and my mother’s is not a thing, but a creature. My mother believes that the epitomy of a perfect house pet is a rock. And as appealing as a rock, hot glued with unnaturally huge googly eyes sounded, I opted to ask my mom for a higher in maintenance pet- a dog.

Trying to convince my mom that an inanimate object with plastered eyes was not a pet but a disturbing house decor only took me three years. When I was eight, and the only rock my mom and I finally thought was worth sentimental value, was on her finger, I had the courage to ask for a pet with a pulse. But, to no avail, we skipped past the dog adoption fair at Petco, and bought a pet that I would injure if I tried to play fetch with. Even though Sushi, the beta fish, came with eyes when I received him, I still annoyed my mom about getting a puppy. After the constant, not so subtle sighs each time we had seen people walking their dog, my mom finally gave in and brought home a non-aquatic, non-stationary animal. At last, I was not mad, or disappointed, and did not have to clash with my mother about what constituted a normal pet.


Maddie Doran’s “Memory” IMG_4212

I straightened my bright red gown for the millionth time and hesitantly sat down in my assigned seat. It was finally time. After fourteen years with the same group of kids, in the same town with a name that no one could pronounce, it was finally time to graduate. All around was a sea of red caps and gowns with all the familiar faces I had grown up with. We were all just minutes away from starting a brand new chapter in our lives. To say I was nervous, would be a complete understatement. The thought of leaving this place where all my friends were was horrifying to me. This graduation ceremony would be the last time we were all together which is why the memory is so special. The ceremony began with a few students giving speeches followed by our principal’s main speech. Then it was finally time to receive our diplomas and end the ceremony. I remember looking around the crowd as everyone flipped the tassels on their graduation caps with smiles from ear to ear. As happy as I was to be graduating, it began to sink in how much different my life was going to be. As we all walked out I immediately gravitated towards my closest friends. From last minute study sessions to endless amounts of homework we had always gotten through it together. So, after taking thousands of photos we had to say goodbye. We promised to stay in touch, but we all knew it wouldn’t be the same as seeing each other in homeroom every morning. I remember walking away, gripping my certificate tightly thinking, what was next? High school awaited, which meant new environment, new teachers, new friends. As exciting as all these new things seemed, I never wanted to forget about the old. So, if all my memories were ever to be wiped away I would never want to forget my eighth grade graduation. That wonderful day is such a sacred memory that I will always cherish. It truly encapsulates such an important time in my life full of highs, lows, and everything in between. So, I hope if my memories were wiped out that that one memory would always stay with me, and bring a smile to my face thirty years from now.

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