Meeting Wonder Woman
Siena Nguyen, 12, 7th Grade, Mclean
Have you ever met a celebrity? Did you know that celebrity? Imagine meeting a celebrity at a young age and thinking, who is this lady? Or why is she talking to me? They expect you to know who they are since they’re famous but you view them as a complete stranger and have no clue who you’re talking to.
The winter season prevented me from playing outside which left me bored most of the time. Instead, I enjoyed going to the store and helping my dad as well as playing with my Uncle’s German Shepherd. Since Christmas was right around the corner, the store was packed!
I remembered a lady with long, wavy, dark hair walking into the store, but before she had the chance to reach the counter, she was swarmed by fans who were desperate for selfies and autographs. At that time I was only six and wasn’t familiar with many celebrities.
She introduced herself and told us her name was Lynda Carter. My dad seemed to know who she was. On the other hand, for me, that name didn’t ring a bell. She asked me if I knew who she was. I knew it would be rude if I didn’t reply so I just shook my head.
Since I didn’t know who Lynda Carter was, she educated me on which movies she starred in and a little bit about her background. She told me she was the original superhero Wonder Woman in the TV series! Lynda Carter also told me that she won Miss World USA in 1972. I hadn’t watched Wonder Woman before, but I surely was familiar with the character! I ended up taking a picture with her which became a keepsake of my first encounter with a celebrity.
Goodbye Chile, Hello America
Antonia Brenner, 12, 7th Grade, McLean
Since I was little, my dad has always talked about how much he would love to live in the US and I never cared about that because I learned English in kindergarten, and I thought it would be fun to have more friends there. I remember my dad saying, “Les gustaria irnos a vivir a estados unidos?” Which I always answered with the same thing “Me da lo mismo”.
On June 16, 2022, my parents gave me some news that would change my life. The first thing that came to my mind when they said to me that we are moving was, “Se que esto no le va a gustar a la Maida (my sister),” for some reason.
I said goodbye to my family, and friends, and on August 30th, 2022 I had my last day of school in Chile. I didn’t even know what to feel that day, it was really weird. And finally, on September 5th, 2022 I had to say goodbye, and leave. Everyone’s eyes were watery at the airport with my family, but there was no way back.
When I stepped on the airplane, I was already missing them, but I had to do it, it’s not like it is my decision anyways. At 3:06 (exactly), I landed in DCA. Once I got my bags, I went outside and it was weird. The air was wet, and the sun was really bright. I got into my mom’s best friend’s car and went to her house.
Until now, I have learned that changes sometimes can be good and are worth the try. Also, you have to be open-minded and be open to try new things like places, meet new people, try new food, and more.
Neel Jain, 13, Grade 8, Great Falls
Before I sat down on the soft, cool leather seat, I was struck by a sudden wave of nervousness. But now was not the time to back out.
I quickly gathered my nerves, and walked on to the stage, my steps echoing in the intricate Weill Hall. I looked at the audience, and I saw 200 people sitting in the hall, watching intently, and it was there that it hit me: I was playing at THE Carnegie Hall.
Filled with adrenaline, I sat down and began the great saga of Mozart’s greatest piece.
When my fingers danced over the keys, all my previous emotions disappeared. As Rondo Alla Turca filled the sounds of the Hall, I began to realize a sense of peace, a sense of exactly where I was. I thought, “No matter what, I have worked to get here, and I will show the audience why I am here today.”
I began to play louder and with passion, and the octaves were heard in every corner, the chords filled the air, the melody washed over the ears of everyone in the audience, the bass was shaking the gigantic, crystal chandeliers, and they glinted under their new light.
As I began to start playing the ending, I began to feel Mozart’s great vigor, his mindset to go out with a bang, and never to give up.
When the last chord echoed through the hall, the audience was silent. Then…
There was a clap.
Until the hands of the audience were heard in every wall of the stage.
Faced by this applause, I stood still for a moment, then bowed. But as I looked up, a pair of eyes caught my eye. I looked closely, and there was my mother, sitting alongside my father and my little brother, all looking at me with the most proud expressions on their faces.
I felt a sudden urge of thankfulness for everything my family had done to keep my dream alive.
I smiled, and exited the stage with happiness and disbelief.
I just played piano at Carnegie Hall!
Stella Thompson, 12, 7th grade, Vienna
Self respect lets us practice respecting others. If you can’t take care of yourself, you definitely can’t take care of other people. How can someone care for others without caring for themselves? You need to respect others, right? Then why not respect yourself? You shove your feelings down but encourage others to let it all out. Others might say it’s putting your friends first. I say it’s disrespecting yourself.
Back when I was in sixth grade, I noticed that all my other friends would wear makeup to school. I wanted to be like everyone else and started wearing mascara to school as well. Eventually I started wearing eyeliner, blush, and concealer. I felt better about myself as if I was showing my true self. No one pointed out or noticed the change.
They never treated me differently. I was still the same person. I started wearing makeup for myself because I wanted to, because I chose to. You should not have to change who you are to be liked. People didn’t think of me as any more or less of a person than before. I’m still me, just wearing mascara now.
Beauty standards constantly change. At least at one point in time on earth, your features would have made you be considered as the most beautiful person in the world. One thing might be considered “on trend” now, but it’s going to be out of style next year. You should embrace your features, because they are what make you beautiful.
When you look in the mirror, don’t point out your flaws, point out the things that make you different and unique. Look at pictures of yourself from kindergarten or when you were younger. Remember that they are beautiful and they are you, and you don’t have to change a thing to be pretty.
A Lesson I Learned by Art
Thomas Ingulli, 12, Grade 7, McLean
Have you ever thought something is hard because someone said it was? When people say something is hard, it may not necessarily be hard to you. Trust yourself. I thought watercolor painting was really hard and a lot of people still say it’s hard to learn. I abandoned watercolor after trying it once because it was hard, at first. But I tried again and quickly got adept at it.
Watercolor is hard because if you want to fix something, you have to do it quickly while the water hasn’t dried. Then you have to wait even longer until the page is fully dry or else you’ll ruin your work. The water is already drying and if you put your brush back on it, it will rub part of the paper off. It’s sometimes really annoying.
Watercolor is still my favorite form of art. I learned that I can do a lot more if I put my mind to it. I love art because it lets me make anything I want. My writing is similar to my watercolor paintings. I think that writing is challenging at first. I even criticize the final product, but I know that I did a satisfactory job in the end, way better than I think.
I jumped onto my computer while the leaves outside were falling with shades of orange and brown. All the magnificent paintings I wished I could complete stared back at me. The sounds of clicking begin as I search the web. Oh! Perfect. A step by step painting website.
I pulled out a paint brush and some acrylics that had long been forgotten in a dark bin. My brushes swish across the surface of the white canvas. Color covers the bleak background and I’m swept into another world.
How easy this is when I thought I would never be able to do this. With some practice and a lot of time, I might be able to one day paint one of those images staring back at me. But when I do, it will be the creation I made, the one I thought I could never do.
Wade Cai, 12, 7th Grade, McLean
Do you dislike school? My 5th grade self would immediately say, “Yes!” to that question.
However, throughout elementary school, I always hated showing up to school no matter what day it was. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, doesn’t matter, they were all dreadful.
The loud chattering of elementary schoolers absorbed into my ear each time I entered that front door, the dim yellow lighting and posters all over the school trying to make it seem like a better place.
How I study for hours upon hours for tests just for an 87% to be shoved into your face. The disappointment and shame of being handed that sheet of paper. Envying the students who barely study and get a higher score.
Instead of giving up and becoming an apathetic student, I knew I could do better.
I plodded all the looks I was given each time I asked a question, even with the uneasy feeling each time I raised my hand, I knew nothing would change if I didn’t.
After 5 years of dreadful school, I finally realized the truth. School is not just 6 hours of prison, the truth is, it matters a lot. Before I knew it, I subconsciously started asking for assistance from the teacher. I saw the drastic improvement of my grade. Which is when I realized the truth is, school isn’t that bad of a place, as long as you do what you are supposed to, and ask for help when you need it, and it will work out.
My Tradition: Dumpling Making
Diane Lu, 12, 7th Grade, Great Falls, VA
Today, my family and I are making dumplings, Chinese style to be specific. My mom and I first drove up to our local Asian grocery store. Walking up the old, broken asphalt, my mom and I entered the cold, air conditioned store. With the intention of buying three specific things, we arrived home with them: ground pork, green beans, and dumpling wrappers.
Starting the preparation, we pour some cold sink water into a small metal bowl, we have the first step done. Afterwards, we unbox our ingredients. Washing the green beans with ice cold water, I cut them with a sharp cleaver. Then, we get a large metal bowl, and throw in our beans, ground pork, a bit of sesame oil, and a spoon or two of soy sauce. While I’m mixing up the ingredients, my mom starts grabbing black plastic trays that we will later put all of our dumplings that are ready to boil on.
Finishing up the filling, I call my dad down to start the process of making the dumplings themselves. I take one dumpling wrapper, take a small spoonful of the filling, and put it in the middle of the wrapper. Next, I fold it in half, then I take the two bottom edges facing me, and connect them. After we make all of the dumplings, my dad goes to set up the table, getting chopsticks and bowls for everyone. Once my mom thinks that we have made enough, we start the boiling process. Pouring a tray at a time, my mom easily slides all the dumplings into the boiling hot water.
Not just an event to make yummy, delicious dumplings, making dumplings is also an event to bond, catch up, and have fun. Does your family have an event similar to mine?
Javi Garza, Age 13, 7th Grade, McleanMrs.
Have you ever wondered how other people see things or how they imagine you? Well, I have, a lot of times, and it gave me a new way of thinking.
Perspective is something everyone needs to understand. No matter the way you look at something, everyone else is either going to have the same opinion or the opposite. We might see someone as mean just by their appearance or what they’re wearing, but inside they might be kind and compassionate. Some people have different characteristics that they choose to live with, and that is their way.
We cannot judge someone from the way they have lived their life or the way they live it currently. They might have gone to jail once or twice, but they may have learned their lesson from going to jail. We may judge a picture that is black and white differently from color, and that’s okay. All of us need to remember that there will always be someone who sees things differently than others and that might be a gift to some.
Everyone needs to learn how to see from a different perspective and that’s the way we should live. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “We can complain that rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
Equality for Clothes
Emma Hindley, 12, 7th Grade, McLean
When boys walk into school, do they ever consider what they are wearing that day? What others may think, or if they’d get punished for wearing it? No. Well, I once walked into my school, not caring about what I was wearing because I didn’t think it mattered, but apparently, it did.
It was the beginning of kindergarten. I had quickly thrown on an outfit the morning of, a yellow shirt with black shorts decorated with stripes. However, there was a huge problem with what I was wearing. My sleeves were under 3 fingers wide.
As a kindergartener, I didn’t give my sleeve length a second thought. Unfortunately, my teacher, Mrs. Hayden, wasn’t happy about my lack of shoulder coverage. She headed over to me and handed me a jacket she was carrying. I stared at her, confused. Why did she hand me a random jacket?
“Your shoulder straps are too short.,” she explained, “Cover your shoulders up with the jacket.”
Confused, I slowly slipped the sleeves of the coat onto my arms. I kept it on until recess came. As I walked outside, I felt the heat sear down on me. It was unbearable to wear the jacket. So I took it off. It should be fine, right? It was 90 degrees. They couldn’t expect me to actually wear a jacket in this heat?
For the first few minutes of recess, everything seemed to be fine. Until Mrs.Hayden stormed over to me.
“Where is your jacket?” she asked. I tried to respond, but she interrupted me, continuing to reprimand me.
I never wore short sleeves that year, afraid I’d be yelled at again. That day, I realized that girls will be judged no matter how old they are, whether they’re a full-grown woman or a five-year-old girl.
Birthday Party Fun
Melina Markakos, 13 and 7th Grade, McLean
I would have never thought that one day I would be laying on the grass in my best friend’s backyard with everyone crowded around me wondering if I was ok. I could feel my face turning bright red with fear and pain at the same time. I was crying harder than I ever have, trying to stop the tears from rolling down my eyes at the same time. Earlier that day, I had been at my friend Anabel’s house for her birthday party. We had all come from school because all of my friends were there and we rode the bus together.
Once we got to Anabel’s house, we all put on our swimsuits and went outside to play on her playground and run through her sprinklers in her backyard. We had all run through the sprinklers multiple times until our legs got so tired we couldn’t feel them anymore. After that, We went to the playground in the backyard and played on it. We all went straight to the monkey bars and lined up in a straight line. Everyone was told to dry off with a towel before so that you wouldn’t slip and fall, But little me in my pigtails and big smile on my face the whole time grinning from ear to ear, I didn’t listen.
Once it was my turn to go on the monkey bars and the girl before me had just crossed, I got on the ladder and put my hands on the first bar. I was using all of my strength in my tiny arms, still knowing I was soaking wet. But, I never thought anything of it. I kept going, and going, until I got to the middle of the monkey bars. My right hand slipped off. I was using all of my might to pull myself back up, But it wasn’t enough.
Before I knew it, My left hand was starting to slip too. I was more scared than ever. I began to start falling and then I hit the grass head first. I could hear the gasp from the parents sitting on the porch and the gasp from my friends still in line for the monkey bars after me. I cried harder than EVER. Everyone came running to me and my friends ran up to me as well. My friend Emma’s mom was a nurse, so she did help me a little bit. She picked me up and carried me to a pool chair on the porch. She began to call my mom. I was looking at Emma’s mom talking through the phone, still with tears building up in my eyes. Then it hit me. I have never felt more embarrassed in my life.
Madison Carey, 12 years old-7th grade, Vienna
It’s an exciting day for me. I’m going to get rid of one of the worst things in my life…if I pass. I was ready for my peanut challenge. I was going to eat one of my allergies on purpose under surveillance of professional doctors to see if I am still allergic or not. Today, I’m facing my fear.
I rode with my mom to the doctor’s office. I looked out the window the whole time, waiting for the building to appear. I could feel my heart beating throughout my whole body! I didn’t realize just how nerve racking this could be. My mind flooded with possibilities. What if you’re still deadly allergic and die? What if the epi-pen doesn’t work? I brushed off these thoughts when I saw the office in the distance.
When my mom and I walked in, we walked past multiple police officers and security guards on the way to the elevator. One foot after the other, we walked in and waited. The elevator dinged as we got to our floor and I could tell which room I was going to be in for the next couple of hours. It was on the left side of the hall, with two big chairs that had paper covering them. It had windows for walls and you could see through them from the spot we were standing.
We walked in and was immediately greeted by the doctor, who I assumed would be watching over me. I sat down on the farthest chair from the door and waited. I was nervous. He gave me and my mom the run-down and told us what I would be doing. I would be eating one hundred Reese’s Pieces in the span of about two hours and then I would wait another two hours to see if I have a delayed reaction. Finally, we started.
The first cup had only one Reese’s Piece in it, and it tasted horrible. I assumed that it would be the same for all the other pieces, too. The second cup came about five to ten minutes after, and this time, it had two. The process kept repeating itself: three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, twenty, twenty five, until I ate a hundred overall, and we were done. They all just tasted gross but I didn’t feel anything. I went quiet in thought and was ready to wait another two hours in the room.
Two hours later, a small smile spread across my face as a different doctor came through the tall, narrow door with a certificate. He said that I had passed and I was no longer allergic to peanuts. My mom smiled, too, but something seemed off. She kept looking over at me, as if something was wrong with me when she was the one staring at me. When we were just about to accept the certificate on the doctor’s clipboard, my mom interrupted. “Wait,” she said. “Just a little bit longer.”
She rolled up the sleeves of my long-sleeve shirt and just as she suspected, there were hives spread across both of my arms. Of course there were hives. Hives are just annoying little itchy bumps that warn the person of something that they were allergic to, or, if it’s just been scratched too much. But I didn’t scratch my arm at all. I looked at myself in the camera of my mom’s phone, and my cheeks were red. That never happens unless I’m really hot, nervous, or having an allergic reaction.
As time went by, the hives kept growing and growing across my body, reaching my legs and other body parts. The doctors got a black sharpie and outlined them to see if they would continue growing. Sure enough, they did. The doctors and my mom recommended an epi-pen, but I wanted anything but that. Imagine a giant needle with a sharp point and a big, yellow, medicine label that’s meant to stab through a pair of jeans. Obviously, I refused. Eventually, I was forced to agree when I went to the bathroom and saw the hives everywhere. They were joining together and growing even more, until I became one giant hive.
I was still scared, and the doctors could see that, so they offered me an alternative. A tiny little needle that would go into my arm, with the same medicine. My mom said I should try the epi-pen, so I would know what it would feel like for future use, but there was no chance I was going to do that. The little shot didn’t feel as bad as I thought it would, although there was a sore feeling when I tried to move my arm. My frown grew bigger when the doctor ripped my certificate up and threw it in the trash. I wanted that certificate, and I’m going to get it one day, whether it’s for peanuts or another allergy.
I learned a lot of things that day, and I thought about them on the car ride back home. I thought about how I was still fine, even though I was scared, and how I still was determined to get the “trophy” in the end, even though it might not be the same. I felt a tiny smile sprout, as I knew I was going to be fine in the end.