Saranac Lake students tell a story in 100 words

Three students from Saranac Lake High School were selected as the top three writers in a recent Adirondack Center for Writing story contest. Those students are seen here, from left to right: Wyatt Cruz Lillegard, Jenna Audlin and Heaven LaFever. (Photo provided — Adirondack Center for Writing)

SARANAC LAKE — Among the students at Saranac Lake High School could be the next great class of American writers.

Three students — Heaven LaFever, Wyatt Cruz Lillegard and Jenna Audlin — were celebrated by the Adirondack Center for Writing last month for writing the top three entries in an ACW story contest.

Heaven LaFever was the overall winner of the contest for her 100-word story “Behave, I love you.”

The students’ entries were written as part of a school assignment.

Last month, Saranac Lake teacher Eric Bennett challenged all five of his 10th grade classes to write true, personal narratives — limited to 100 words each. It was an assignment inspired by the New York Times’ 100-word story contest.

With this assignment, one of the goals was to teach students about the concept of “show, don’t tell” when writing stories, according to Adirondack Center for Writing Communications Manager Tyler Barton.

As students worked on the assignment, Barton visited each of Bennett’s five classes. Students had the opportunity to ask Barton questions and get feedback on their work. Barton also gave students advice on using specific, sensory details, using figurative details and using dialogue or quotes to make their stories more unique, memorable, evidence-based and to make the reader feel present in the scene, according to Barton.

The students, after completing their assignment, had the opportunity to submit their work to the ACW for entry into a contest. Altogether, 18 students submitted stories.

The writers of the top three entries each won a certificate and an ACW “prize pack,” which included a totebag, notebooks, pens and a water bottle.

The ACW chose the winner and two runner-ups. Barton delivered the winners’ prizes late last month.

This story contest wasn’t the only opportunity for students to get their work out there. Young writers throughout the region will have the opportunity to have their work featured in a new book, “Wild Words: Adirondack Teen Writing Anthology,” which is expected to be published in the spring.

The ACW is accepting entries now through March 10.

“Wild Words” is open to entries from teens aged 13-19 only. For more information, visit adirondackcenterforwriting.org/wildwords.

Winning entry

“Behave, I love you …” By HEAVEN LaFEVER

…she says while I open the door. I scream back “I will, love you! Bye!” Our usual lines whenever I leave, so rehearsed I didn’t really have to listen to respond. Kicking off my shoes hours later, I yell to whoever’s home. The silence is heavy. I find my dad shut in his room, staring off into nothing. He explains that my mother was hospitalized again. Staring up at the moonless sky littered with stars, we watch the helicopter carry her to the next hospital. Hours in a hot car to say our final goodbye, but I already said everything.



I was sitting there in a small, quaint theater in Lake Placid, New York, my sweaty palms pressed up against hers. There was one thing on my mind and it wasn’t the movie. After one month of calling her mine, today was the day I was gonna kiss her. I should do it now, I thought. She turned to look at me after I mustered up enough courage to squeeze her hand, her eyes locking with mine. DO IT NOW! my brain screeched. All I could do was force a smile. I had blown it. Then, she kissed me.

“Rocky Road” By JENNA AUDLIN

Weathered Colorado cabins have been my family’s gathering place for generations. My cousins and I hug and laugh, running along the road and into the stream to find interesting rocks for our nana’s garden. When I sit on her swing, looking out at the flowers, I don’t just see colorful flora. I see the twins skipping stones, splashing water on our parents as they went fly fishing, and rows of round river stones drying beneath the pines. Now, as we begin to move away, we can still go back and see the little treasures from our adventures together.

Other contest entries

“School Bus Debacle” By BALI THURSTON

My friend barely dodged the bright yellow school bus barreling towards them in this virtual hellscape. “That was close,” they mutter, having barely survived. “Yeah,” I responded, my voice dull and dry. “But did you survive the second one though?” I say as I smugly smile, summoning my second school bus. My friend’s avatar flying limply into the void below like a thrown sea star. Silence follows, then our bellowing laughter ends it abruptly. I can almost hear their laughter from across the state. We may be far, but we are close together.

“Home Game Comeback” By ZOE CARPTENTER

There’s a few minutes left on the clock and they’re losing. It’s one of the final plays, the ball reaches his hands, he runs. There are kids from the other team diving and grabbing at his feet, they miss. On the edge of my seat, the hot sun beats down. He is coming toward the stands at a diagonal. I hear the voices of teammates and families cheering. He crosses the line just as an opponent makes contact. The touchdown is scored. He makes the bonus point too, helping his team catch up. They end up winning their home game.

“Pure Serenity” By JENNIFER GIROUX

Our feet in the rugged sand, cold water caressing our bare skin. The people surrounding us, transparent. Fully clothed and a rush of adrenaline sends us jumping off the hardly functioning dock. The freezing spring water engulfing our bodies. We scream with laughter as the sky ignites into a fair pink as the sun ducks beneath the water line. Our heavy, water-saturated clothing urges us out of the freshly melted lake. Our final moments before saying farewell, being nothing but pure serenity.

“Unloved mind” By JAKE KOLLMER

“I love you,” they’ve said. No you don’t. Why would someone love me? I’m me! How could someone cherish me? Who has the patience to deal with my unstable being, let alone adore it? I emit meaningless, blazing tiffs, prior to choosing the heavy words to express my bittersweet emotion. My mind chokes me like smoke saying I’m not enough, I cannot do anything. “Can’t means won’t,” they declare. I won’t, because I can’t. My mind; a constellation. All stars; untouched. Unneeded, neglected, forgotten. Like no valentine, convincing me what is, and what is not; it is my unloved mind.

“You Have Woken Me From My Thousand Year Slumber” By ELLIOT CARRICK

Seeing her without a delay was bliss, watching her kick her legs in the sun-warmed pool. Sunset, a pink-red sky demanded our attention, with angry, city selfishness, but we were too caught up in each other. Such a long time since we had sat together, her hair, longer, “and you’re even taller, it’s unfair.” I wondered how I looked to her. At some point my freckles had retreated, did I look older? Did the days inside do anything noticeable physically? Could she sense the change? Could you hear the words I said in between our laughter?

“Thank you, dad” By ANONYMOUS

I always love working with my dad. Riding along on the tractor with the sun beating down on us. The baler behind us throws chaff on our sweat-glazed necks. The roar of the tractor calming down and the turbo’s whistle comes to an idle. He opens the baler door and out rolls a bale. As I grow up, I learn how to stand in a wagon and heave square bales around. Stacking them neatly while the dry grass stems stab and scratch my arms. Loading and unloading wagons one by one. Thank you, dad, for everything you teach me.

“Memories Last Forever” By VIVIAN HINKLEY

The song “Hold On” reminds me of my great-grandma who died because the lyrics are very emotional. I thought it would say that someone is still alive but it doesn’t. My great-grandma always told me to never let anybody get the best part of you. I like how the lyrics reminded me of a rough point in my life because my great-grandpa had died, I was very emotional. Time is important so spend it wisely. That is why the smile grows on my face as I hear the song playing in my head.

“Person in the Mirror” By ANONYMOUS

My whole life I’ve been that one dot on a plain white canvas. I watched the people around me get into relationships, go out all night and wished I was in their shoes. I’ve changed who I am to fit in with everyone else, changed the way I talk, how I dress and what I liked. Standing there staring at that dot, I hated who I’d become, how I looked, how I talked, how I acted. I now don’t see that white canvas, I see the reflection of my true self.

“Perfect Makes Perfect” By THOMAS KLINE

I never heard the satisfying “ding” of making contact, only the “thwack” of it landing in the catcher’s glove. I kept telling myself “practice makes perfect” as a way of not getting down on myself. As I walked off the field still repeating that same quote to myself, “practice makes perfect,” but after practice coach pulled me aside and said, “Listen up, practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect makes perfect.” My practice wasn’t making perfect because my practice wasn’t perfect. I then corrected my mistakes and, “ding,” I finally heard that sound I desired so much. My practice finally made perfect.

“Feelings in the Snow” By ALICE LaDUE

The snow fell upon the freshly groomed trails, coating them in a fine dust of powder. Long lines and sunny skies made time for my friends and I to talk. Standing across from me was someone I’d never met. Robbie introduced me to Nick, at that very moment our eyes locked. Nick’s blond hair glistened in the sunlight as he towered over me. His bright blue eyes shone like the ocean, his caring demeanor caught my heart. I wasn’t sure he was the one, but as the day went on it clicked for both of us. It was true love!

“Visiting My Grandparents” By BRYN TOMASZEWSKI

As we pulled into the driveway my excitement skyrocketed. I rushed out of the car and ran to the front door, where a small dog greeted me with his little yips. I hugged my grandmother while she listened to me ramble. When she released the crazy toddler that was me, I left to see my grandpa on his recliner. He was sleeping with the TV on, no one could change it. I ran to him and struggled to reach him. I pawed his legs. He pulled me up and sat me down on his lap. I love visiting my grandparents.

“Keep Running” By ANONYMOUS

I hadn’t realized I could be better than I was until I stood on the starting line and something clicked. I finished my race and melted into pride. It was the first time I had been proud of myself in a long time. I had contemplated quitting all summer but Sara’s warm and sometimes cold words kept me there, running. On our cooldown she pulled me aside and whispered in my ear “I’m so proud of you, run like that more often.” Her words had been painkillers all summer and now they felt more like a needed embrace.

“W is for DUB” By SAM CLARK

Hanging with the boys by the crackling fire was so nice, especially after our 1-0 win (DUB) against Massena. We set up a tent in the backyard of my old house in Vermontville and started a fire. It was funny seeing the smeared twinkies across Andrew’s face. We talked about everything, grades, sports, and girls. We were awake until we dozed off in our chairs. Andrew, of course, fell asleep first after eating an entire pack of chocolate. Landon and I a little bit after. But that night was a DUB.


It was the night of a huge win vs. Massena. Sam, Andrew and I were hanging out. We decided to have a fire and talk about the game. We were all excited talking about how we think we are going to have a good year. Finally, we went to bed in the tent we put up a while ago. We were falling asleep. Andrew yelled, “Sam turn off the fire.” Sam and I were crying because how funny it was to us. Finally we went to sleep with a win and a laugh.

“Nothing is Impossible” By ANONYMOUS

When I first solved a Rubik’s cube, I was super excited. I thought that I would never be able to solve one, but here I was holding the colorful cube that I had just solved. I wasn’t very fast and I had help from Google, but it was a start. I kept practicing and learning, getting better every time. I learned faster ways to solve it. I learned new methods like: CFOP, AF2L, and multislotting. Eventually I went from 5 minutes to 15 seconds. I had done what I once had thought to be impossible. I learned, nothing is impossible.

“A Dinner I Won’t Forget” By RAYONA LEIPZIG

I think about the delicious dinners I have. The scenic centerpiece of my mother’s table, the woolen bumble bee and yellow candles reflecting her many years as a Waldorf aftercare teacher. Smells of herbs fill the kitchen, along with freshly roasted chicken with a dash of paprika. My favorite dinner that my mom makes is roast chicken, Brussels sprouts, and warm, buttery squash. My mom takes the Brussels sprouts out of the oven. “I hope these are okay,” she says as usual, not understanding that everytime it is. “They look perfect,” I say. I smell the mouth-watering aromas and the feeling of warmth and security. This meal is a wonderful light in a hard week.

“Cozy, Christmas Morning” By ZULEYKA OLIVERAS

It was a bright and cozy morning on Dec. 25 in Saranac Lake, New York. The birds were chirping and the sun was shining. I only had one thought on my mind. Opening presents. I threw my blankets off and jumped out of bed, wearing my Christmas pajamas. I slowly walked to my parents’ room. My mom was already awake but my dad was still sound asleep like a koala. “Dad, wake up!” I said as I gently shook him. “Only if you make me a coffee first.”


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