From loss of a parent, cross-country moves, illness and divorce, Indianapolis Public Schools students stay positive

Students in the 7th and 8th grade were asked to describe in 300 words or less a time when change occurred that they thought was going to be horrible, only to turn out for the best. Teachers narrowed entries to the top dozen for each grade for the 43rd annual Essay Contest presented by the Indianapolis Y’s Men and Women Service Club.

Essays read aloud at Marian University

Students read their winning essay or poem at a lunch with family and teachers at Marian University. Top place finishers received a week at YMCA Flat Rock River Camp. Other winners and their teachers received a gift card to Barnes & Noble presented by award-winning author and executive director of the Indiana Writers Center Barbara Shoup.

This year, the essays showed that young people in our communities are dealing with really tough issues. Hopefully, students learned that writing—whether in a book, a blog or in a private journal—can help them work through life’s challenges and respond in positive ways.

Nurturing a love of reading, writing

The annual contest is a tool for educators to nurture a love of reading and writing in their students as essential life skills.


Here are excerpts from the student essays

“I gained a very valuable perspective on life and how vulnerable, precious and unfair it is.”
– on losing a friend to cancer

“I’m really missing the beautiful landscapes and parks full of memories.”
– on moving to a new country

“Then, I learned to be brave and to know that even though my mom is not here, I’m not going to let people tell me I’m not going to be anything in life.”
– after her mother passed away

“Everything felt wrong inside me. I thought it could only get worse…I felt like an outcast.”
– on moving to a new home

“…Coffin Cancer. I finally opened my eyes. And reality pushed me off the edge of the highest cliff. He’s going to leave me, I thought.”
– after her father was diagnosed with cancer

“I knew the new neighborhood contained a little danger so I was worried that something could happen to my family and I…I would also have to cook for my brothers, but that’s not a bad thing because I had fun doing so.”
– on moving and mom getting a new job

 “The day we went to the funeral was just so hard, just to see him lying there without a breath in his body, dead.”
– on the passing of an uncle

“In a way, she acts like my brother that died and has filled all the holes in my heart. I have a whole heart again.”
– on the birth of a baby sister

“At the beginning, I was panicking. I thought I would never get to see my family again. I didn’t know what would happen to my siblings or my mother. I was extremely frightened and did not want to be with these new people.”
– The first time in a foster home


“My brothers keep my heart warm

With no hesitation

However, sometimes

I want to put my brothers up for sale

I love them

On a very large scale

So for right now,

My Brothers aren’t for sale”

 – on being a new brother


“It is only now that I realize my parents’ divorce was a testament of strength for me, my mother and my brother. For me in particular, I know that what happened evoked a certain kind of fortitude which I didn’t know I possessed.”
– on her parents’ divorce

“I thought that everything was fake and that it was all a dream… but I was really going to lose my mom. I couldn’t stop what was happening, and I couldn’t fix it either.”
– on losing his mother


Congratulations, students and teachers! Your stories were moving and inspiring. We look forward to more great writing next year.