“Two Roads” by Henry Unser / “Natural Beauty” by Mohanad Nahhas

“Natural Beauty”

Mohanad Nahhas

“Two Roads”

Henry Unser

There I stood, alone, cold, damp. I pulled my cloak tightly around me, trying to save as much heat as possible. I contemplated the direction that I take now, I was so content following the path that I just want to keep going forward. If I go left, I keep venturing into the forest, hoping to find my purpose that I’ve been looking for. If I go right to the village, I could also find the purpose I’ve been looking for. I hear music in the distance, accordions to my right and birds to my left. I see purpose in both paths, to the right I could prove myself as a useful person, but to the left I prove useful as an independent body. Ultimately, it’s my choice, but I’m so conflicted. I think I’m going to go my own way, make a new path, and head straight. Or I could turn around, now I’m conflicted again. I want to make my own path but go my own way. I’m confused now, the right path looks more worn, and the left seems more wild. I want to take the path less traveled but someone still has traveled it. You know what, never mind, I don’t know. Left, right, forward, backward. Well, I’m not going back, so backward is out. I don’t want to deal with people, so right it out. Now, forward or left. I think I’ll go left, but I do want to stay straight, it’s comforting. But I want to be uncomfortable, test myself. You know what, I’m done. I’m going left, and that’s that.

“The Swing” by Grace Betzwieser / “Wait Here” by Elena Hymes

“Wait Here”

Elena Hymes

“The Swing”

Grace Betzwieser

She sits on the icy swing

The air damp

Like her clothes

She listens

To the sound of the rain

Hitting the ground

As the wind softly blows against her face

Back and forth

She swings

Flying freely through the air

And the pouring rain    

A thick breeze blows back

Her wet and tangled hair

So lost in thought

She almost doesn’t notice

A slight squeaking

Just off to the left

She sits frozen

The lonely night slowly fills

As she turns her head

Inch by inch

Ignoring her instincts

And her shaky hands

But once she looks

All that’s left is the swing

Rocking back and forth

And the reminiscence 

Of what was once there.

Mockingbird Anaphora by Christina Cheng / “God’s Own Country” by Nia Augustine

“God’s Own Country”

Nia Augustine

Mockingbird Anaphora

Christina Cheng

Through the trails winding under canopies of half orange oak leaves she ran. Through the playground ringing of children’s screeches and the rustle of wood chips being buried beneath their quick feet. Through the vast expanse of pastureland dotted with cows deep in their morning graze. Through intersections met with children in strollers and their mothers. Through the back parking lot, a haven for the lone blue dumpster. Through Wertman Lane, tranquil on that Sunday morning, only the gentle whisper of a light autumn breeze to be heard.

“Golden Star” by Troy Serao / Untitled by Kathryn Harrington


Kathryn Harrington

“Golden Star”

Troy Serao 

It was no secret 

I wasn’t hard hard to please 

Just give me that little star shaped, sparkling, sticker 

No bigger than a push pin yet as sparkly as a disco ball hanging in a forgotten ballroom, 

The namesake STAR something that represents life, distance, freedom, and excellence. 

 They are given so sparingly from your teacher after you answer a question in class, from a friend on a hard day, or from the universe when one appears on your test when you get a 100%. 

They sit there on the wax paper 

ready to be peeled away to be separated from their joy to bring us JOY 

“Summer’s Embrace and Winter’s Chill” by Angelina Wu / “Hopeful View” by Zainab Bibi

“Hopeful View”

Zainab Bibi

“Summer’s Embrace and Winter’s Chill”

Angelina Wu

Summer’s warmth, in the noonday light
Gentle waves, embrace the shore
Sun-kissed days, where laughter rings
Blossoms bloom in vibrant array
In summer’s arms we find delight

Winter’s cold, a silent night
Icy winds where snowflakes soar
Frost nights, where silence stings,
Frozen landscapes in shades of gray
Winter’s touch, a tranquil sight

“Whispers of Home” by Zahra Mushtaq / “Dispair” by Alice Catini


Alice Catini

“Whispers of Home”

Zahra Mushtaq

Acres of land stretching in each direction of my front door
Sounds of the wind would harmonize with all the trees loudly whistling
Traces of my chickens left everywhere, their scent, feathers, food pellets
My water well, that creates the sound of rainfall, every time I walk past it.
My mothers garden that would stretch yards, filled with greenery and flowers
A driveway hundreds of feet long with a beautiful view of mountainous hills soaring across
My eyes were so used to this scene, nothing was exciting about it
Nor the sights, nor the sounds, nor my chickens

The drowsy city of Albany
Most gloomiest place on earth
First thought that came to mind: Dull
First color that came to mind: Gray
My first hope was to go back home
I have zero expectations when I look out the window
Everything looks the same as the street before

The contrast was so bright then it became so dull
Only on visual terms
I never fully learned to appreciate one moment of life’s reoccurrence
How could I possibly have high expectations for that next moment?

“Pluto XIII” by Nawaf Kassen / “Lights Camera Action” by Mahimn Dave

“Lights Camera Action”

Mahimn Dave

“Pluto XIII”

Nawaf Kassen

I am a water sign

As tranquil as that sounds

My thoughts never seem to align 

Disconnected from grounds, my mind knows no bounds

I write, draw, read, and bake

but that’s only a piece

because no matter what I make

it’s always the process that brings me peace

I once grasped my identity

Now I’m just lost 

Desperately seeking serenity

I wonder what that will cost


So far from reality

It’s truly bizarre

how I’m patching my life with morality

I was once adamant 

about what I was destined for

Now I’m stagnant

Wanting nothing more


to things I never thought could endure

but I continue to ensure

that these scenarios will only let me mature

I am whatever the universe makes of me

So much potential wasted 



“Letter to Future Self” by Einas Faraj / “Intangible Roots” by Rui Zheng

“Intangible Roots”

Rui Zheng

“Letter to Future Self”

Einas Faraj

Dear Einas, 

As I settle into my chair to compose this heartfelt letter to you, my future self, a feeling of wonder washes over me as I contemplate the relentless march of time. I contemplate how time does not wait for a soul, how the mind does not comprehend the swiftness of these years until it is too late, and all I can do about it now is to sob into my pillows over the heartbreak of missing my innocence. These are the moments that I begin to reminisce about times I had wished to grow up faster, not knowing all I want right now is not only to stop getting older, but to be younger again.

I am now 16 years old, and a junior in high school. As soon as July 31st comes by, I will never be 16 again, exactly how I will never again be 2, in Syria, chasing my sister and her friends. I will never be 7, learning to ride a bike in the parking lot of one of the masjids I grew up in. I will never be 9, with a blue cast on my arm after breaking my hand rolling down my cousin’s backyard in plastic cars, while our mothers were inside making us dinner. My favorite color was blue because my moms favorite color was blue. I will never be 13 getting my nails done for the first time during my last ever year of middle school. I will never get those years back and that is a feeling that confuses me. 

Time truly is a phenomenon that continues to captivate me, the impressive thing about the future is that we never know what is to come. Even with our endless hopes and expectations, anything can occur and alternate the path we are on. I have learned that through the vast array of experiences I have been put through. I would have never anticipated my house setting on fire, my parents splitting at a young age, my mother moving away to a different state and having no consistency in any aspect of my life with all the moving I have done, with all the people I have lived with, with all the schools I have moved to. After living through it, it all seems typical and is my one and only reality. 

Engaging in a deep reflection always seems to engulf me in a whirlwind of emotions. I, for one, believe that everything is a blessing in disguise, and am forever grateful and thankful to the one and only Lord above me. I have been given a chance to grow through harsh times and learn valuable lessons, gaining wisdom. My experiences have collectively molded me into the person I stand before you as today and will continue to frame me into other versions of myself till my time is to come. Each moment seems almost dreamlike, a powerful testament to the ephemeral nature of time itself. 

My English teacher says that at this age, the stress we feel for the future is ordinary, that we are young and are afraid of the new chapters that wait for us. However, the realization that not only has time sped by, but will continue to hurtle forward at an unwavering pace is what resonates most deeply within me. As I craft these words, a heightened awareness washes over me – these next years will zoom by in the blink of an eye. It’s a thought that carries a certain weight, an urge that makes me want to live each and every day with a clear sense of purpose, to truly savor every moment, and to never take for granted the blessings that surround me, because one day, I will wish to be 16 years old, and a junior in highschool again. 

As I delve into contemplating the uncertainties of the future, a multitude of questions wash over me. The questions I ask myself about the pending future are my motive to keep going, and my motive to give up. The future remains veiled in uncertainty, but one truth remains undeniably clear: time is a relentless force that waits for no one, and the responsibility falls squarely upon my shoulders to make the most of every precious moment bestowed upon me. I often spend time wondering who I will become, where I will find myself, if I will pursue my dreams, passionately chase after my deepest desires, or leave an indelible mark upon the world,

I do not want to look back with a pang of regret, yearning for the opportunities I let slip through my fingers, the risks I never dared to take, and the chances to embrace life to its absolute fullest that I let go of. As I ponder the swift passage of time, a quote by the esteemed poet Henry van Dyke surfaces in my mind: “Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.” These insightful words beautifully capture the very essence of the intricate relationship we share with time.

Amidst this kaleidoscope of human experiences, it is love that emerges as the most powerful anchor, a constant among the ceaseless tide of time. Love possesses the ability to transcend the boundaries of time itself, infusing every fleeting moment with a significance that stretches beyond the limitations of the clock. It imbues our lives with a profound sense of meaning, fortifies our spirits with unwavering hope and optimism, and serves as a constant reminder that even as time marches on relentlessly, the bonds of love endure, steadfast and unwavering. So, Einas, remember to love. 

Love more than people. Love the clear certainty that you are alive. Though death and age are factors in life we cannot sway, having the ability to die means that you have the ability to live, and that is what we must do. As you delve into these words penned by your past counterpart, I hope that they resonate deeply within the core of your being. May you be filled with an abundance of gratitude for the countless moments that have woven the intricate tapestry of your existence, and may your heart brim with excitement for the captivating adventures that lie ahead on our path. Remember to seize every moment with unwavering purpose and a burning passion, and to cherish the love and memories that light the path before you. It is moments of love and connection that truly endure.

With boundless love and anticipation,


Christine Curley Memorial Award 2024

Christine Curley Memorial Award 2024

The Christine Curley Memorial Award for Creative Writing has been established by Christine’s parents to be presented annually to the students who display interest and potential in creative writing.

During Christine’s high school years, she showed great promise as a poet, and the hope of her parents is that this award will encourage other students to pursue in their writing the spirit with Christine so beautifully demonstrated in her own.

A faculty committee has chosen

Tehreem fatima

Poettes’ Tale

I am not a poet
But a woman albeit
The earth is my page
Aged by existence
But its blank- nothing
Is untouched but the trees
Seized to write

The way of the world
Hurled me into a whole
Hole of conformation
Molded my cognation to believe
And perceive that the difference
Is an inference between women and girls

Dream and women don’t
Live in fantasies but
Face reality through silent
Understanding manning the being
Seeing but never freeing
The light in my throat
Matches the words I never wrote

To my daughter’s mother
Another letter to explain
That I am not a woman
But a poet peeling a persimmon
To reveal the golden core
Adored by girls around the world
Dare to dream it seems

That if to be a woman is to give
Up the most beautiful something
Than I’d rather have nothing
But my pen and paper
Taper but I am unfazed
And raised by the notion
Of never being a poet for
I am a poette.


souls twirling in a dance
on chance- we met
our eyes the keys
unlocking the willow trees- perched

upon the hill- filled
a gap between us grows
apart from galaxies of light
gleaming citrine, mauve, azure- sure

shine upon skin- akin
flames burning blood
rushes through bodies not souls
in the stars- molten gold
hardens to keys

of maple
traveling far far away
to partake in a universal dance
on chance- upon continents
on opposite ends of the same string