First Place, Nonfiction, Grade 3-6 : Katrina

By BROOKE DEXTERMay 11, 2013 

Brooke Dexter


  • 2013 Creative Writing Contest


      • Teresa Ascone
      • Dianne Barske
      • Melissa Boyce
      • Anna Bjartmarsdottir
      • Emily Brackman
      • Douglass Bourne
      • Michael Cattogio
      • Debbie Cutler
      • Anita Dale
      • Ellen Davis
      • Kristin DeSmith
      • Sherri Douglas
      • Shannon Gramse
      • Trish Jenkins
      • Mary Kancewick
      • Mary Kudenow
      • Pat Kennish
      • Sarah Kirk
      • Tara Lampert
      • Marie Lundstrom
      • Jessie Nixon
      • Camille Oliver
      • Elise Patkotak
      • Kristi Powell
      • Bill Sherwonit
      • Katy Spangler
      • David Stevenson
      • Carol Sturgulewski
      • Lila Vogt
      • Hillary Walker
      • Mark Weber
      • Peggy Witzleben


      Patrick Dougherty,
      Anchorage Daily News
      Sara Juday,
      Alaska Center for the Book
      Ronald Spatz,
      University of Alaska Anchorage


      • Page Brannon
      • Heather Caldwell
      • Sara Juday
      • Camille Oliver

(Brooke Dexter, an 11-year-old sixth grader at Chugach Optional Elementary, wrote a journal-style essay about her feelings on the suicide of a former Chugach student and friend of her older sisters, Katrina Bryant. This excerpt describes an evening memorial service held at the school.)

I have a good time that night. Emily and I mostly play in the gym. That kind of makes me mad at myself. "This is not a time for play, you should be mourning!" It doesn't make sense but I wish I were sadder. I feel like I am being disrespectful by having fun. Soon the war with myself is disrupted, because they are setting the lanterns! Everyone stands outside in the cold setting off floating lanterns like the ones in 'Tangled.' They are magnificent. I expect more people to be sad, but mostly all I see is smiling faces, knowing that she is safe up there looking down on us.

Watching the lanterns rise up until they are just dots by the moon is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I know I will remember this night forever. Emily and I release one each and one together. Up until now I kind of felt like I didn't belong, but now I know that just being here shows that I care, and that's what everyone needs right now, so I feel better.

Emily and I stand back and watch. Some are heart shaped and red, and others are rectangular and white, and they are all so beautiful. I see some of Katrina's closest friends setting off ones with signatures and messages on them. They really loved her, and now she's gone. I bet she really regrets it, I bet she really does. I would. I cry for the first time now, for so many different reasons I can't even recite them.

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