Kids Issue 2016: Worlds to conquer and more

RIGHT SIDE, LEFT SIDE: Third-grader Atenas Gonzalez of Sand Hill-Venable Elementary School was assigned to create a self-portrait in the style of Picasso

Editor’s note: The following essays and art are part of Xpress’ 2016 Kids Issue, a colorful annual feature that offers local K-12 students a chance to express themselves through art, poetry and prose. This year, we asked kids to focus on themselves with the theme of “Who am I?”


I am the one who turns to my own imagination when reality fails to amaze me. I am the one who tends to turn people away if they don’t accept who I am. I am the one who believes in others’ potential but fails to see my own.

I am made up of thousands of memories that have sculpted the person I am today: my grandparents’ old house; the pain I feel when someone close to me hurts me intentionally; running down the stairs on Christmas morning with my cousin. Accepting the fear and humiliation of life and moving forward despite it; appreciating that one smile or word that changes my entire day; feeling happiest knowing I’m surrounded by people who truly care about me; finding happiness within myself when the things around me fail to offer it.

I remember the stunning moments shared with my cousin: staying up till 3 a.m. to talk, the wind whipping through our identical blond hair at the beach, jumping fearlessly into the icy-cold ocean water, swimming for hours in the indoor pool at our temporary beach house. We never left each other’s side.

I love taking walks alone in the summer and feeling the cool grass beneath my bare feet. I love singing to myself when no one’s around. I love the feeling I get when I’ve found someone who looks past my flaws and sees who I truly am.

This is me: a quirky, unique person filled with huge hopes and dreams for the future. I still have many more experiences to conquer, but I know one thing for sure: This is who I am.

— Toria Hicks, The Learning Community School, eighth grade

FOR THE LOVE OF DRAGONS: Gary Snipes, Odyssey Community  School
FOR THE LOVE OF DRAGONS: Gary Snipes, Odyssey Community School


Who I am is a really hard question for anybody to answer.

I love outdoors as much as indoors; I’m the type of person who gets drowsy when staring at a fire and smelling the burning pine. I’m the kid who holds the stories of Mississippi, cousins and injuries. I’m the kid who comes from the old, torn-down building called an orphanage. I love to look at sunsets and have a soft spot for nature.

I’m the kind of person who’s shy at the first soccer practice. I am the person who gets hyped when someone makes a great play, gets an adrenaline rush when I make a good play and who’ll say “Good teamwork” to the TV. I’m the guy who thinks $300 is too much for soccer shoes; I’m willing to give up a goal for an assist.

I am the kid who’s willing to try and fail, and who likes the thrill of schoolwork when I do something right. I’m the type of person who’s motivated but still gets frustrated by a math problem.

I am the guy who says mom always comes first and has a temper around anyone who’s rude. I’m the kind of person who loves comedies and will watch out for his friends. I don’t hold grudges, and I’m willing to give a little piece of me to get to know someone. But overall, I’m the guy who says family always comes first.

— Nick Murphy, The Learning Community School, eighth grade

IN THE MIND'S EYE: Vance Elementary School kindergartner Evie McLean painted this self-portrait aimed at being half-realistic, half-abstract at the Roots + Wings Community Design Lab  at Vance Elementary School
IN THE MIND’S EYE: Vance Elementary School kindergartner Evie McLean painted this self-portrait aimed at being half-realistic, half-abstract at the Roots + Wings Community Design Lab at Vance Elementary School


What do you fear most?

We all have at least one fear: fear of death, fear of getting a bad grade. I’m afraid of spiders (also known as arachnophobia). Spiders scutter, crawl and infest dark, damp cellars and other vulgar places. These eerie creatures spin, making their horrendous homes. They are thinking about where to put the sofa, which will later capture a mosquito.

When I’m hiking through the woods or jogging around the lake, I always run into a web. When you step through their masterpiece, tearing the whole thing apart, the sticky “string” encasing your face, they see you. They peer at you with hatred, saying, “If you’re not afraid of me now, I will make you afraid.” I scream when those gleaming, beady eyes stare at me, scream so hard that my eyes pop out of my head and my brain turns to dust. But even though I’m frightened, the dream of a spider not hurting me can overcome that fear.

Dreams are powerful. Dreams can overcome fears. Dreams of the impossible, a child’s dream of a job, such as being a firefighter or a policewoman. Mine is to be a doctor. I’ve had lots of injuries lately, so I’ve seen many doctors. One of those injuries was a broken bone. Some people think that’s cool, because you can write and draw on your cast. But I’m not even wearing a cast, just a splint, which stinks a lot (my family cringes and scrunches up their faces when I occasionally take it off). I can’t do some sports and other activities because I have to let it heal, and there’s a risk that I could break it again. After a while, a broken bone just gets boring: no basketball, no soccer, no biking, no anything (except for running, but no trail running).

Overall, I think that dreams and fears make up our personality, and without them, we would lose part of who we are.

— Parker Stiles, The Learning Community School, sixth grade


Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.