Upper School Students Participate in NaNoWriMo

Submitted by: Michele Murazzi, Language Arts Teacher

November 1st marks the beginning of the annual tradition of National Novel Writing Month--affectionately dubbed “NaNoWriMo.”  This year, I invited the 7th and 8th grade students to take part in this yearly literary tradition and challenged them to write their own novels.  The students in 7th grade were tasked with writing 5,000 words while those in 8th grade were tasked with 7,000.  The assignment was entirely optional with only a vaguely defined “prize” awaiting them at the end of the month.  However, over the course of thirty days, ten students worked diligently to complete their stories: Lily B., Claire B., Everly B., Jackson D., Tommy G., Micah K., Julia K., Chloe L., Shriya M., and McKenzie N.  

These dedicated writers created a wide variety of stories ranging from wild adventures about super-powered teenagers to tales of haunted houses and horror and even to a historical fiction narrative featuring a family struggling with the hardships of life during World War II.  Each student demonstrated immense creativity during the month of November, and celebrated their accomplishments with a pizza and ice cream party.  The students had an opportunity to share excerpts from their novels with each other while enjoying their lunch.  Each student was awarded a certificate of completion and a journal for their personal use.  I am very pleased to congratulate them today on their great achievement!  

“If a story is in you, it has to come out.” – William Faulkner

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And now, excerpts from the student NaNoWriMo books:

Excerpt from I Hear Him 

By Everly B.

Cold, hopeless, weary. That’s how I describe my life. That’s how I am going to introduce myself. My name is Rose Gilbert, though I prefer Ro, and this is my crazy, mysterious life. It all started when my parents went missing one evening. They always go out and barely ever watch us kids. My parents had a severe problem with gambling our life savings away. Though they didn’t care very much for us kids, my siblings and I are still coping with their disappearance. My younger brother, Jack, is hurt the most from their disappearance. Jack says that if he finds who or what did this to our parents, they will pay. I have more siblings where that came from. The rest of my siblings are Veronica, the oldest, Eddie, the smart one, Victoria, the sassy lip gloss-lover, Me, the dumb one, and Jack, the troublemaker. We all have different interests. 

The Gilbert siblings are completely different from one another. Veronica loves to boss everyone around, acting like a parent. Eddie loves books. We can barely afford books but every chance he gets, he gets a new book. Victoria loves lip gloss, perfume, boys, and friends. She focuses a lot on what people think of her. Lastly, Jack and me. We both like comics, video games, and horror books. I love to dance, which no one knows about, and Jack loves to make jokes and watch comedy. My parents always used to like going out and not watching the kids. This is where the story begins. 

One early morning Jack and I were getting ready for our first day of our new school. The rest of my siblings had to work to earn enough money to feed our family. I put on my clothes I laid out the night before and Jack just put on any dirty clothes he could find. Today, I wanted to start a new life. Though, I can never seem to run away from my past. Jack set a goal that he would not go to detention all this year. “Are you almost ready Ro?”says Jack.”No, Jack. I am trying to actually look half-decent for my first day of a new school!”I say.”Whatever! I am giving you five minutes before I leave without you!” says Jack.”Okay! Okay! Chill out!”I say. Jack leaves to go onto school without looking back.

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I walked to school all by myself. The path is windy, creepy, one could even say haunted. I encountered a man. A police officer. “Hey Rose!”says Mr. Williams. I said,”Oh, hey!” “Rose, try getting to school quickly today,”says Mr. Williams. “Okay. Why?” I say. “No time for questions. Just go.”says Mr. Williams. I didn’t say one more word and walked very curiously to school.

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Excerpt from The Park Brothers 

By Micah K.

Chapter 1 

8:00. Beep, beep, beep. “Wake up! We’re doing more testing.” Dr. Craft said. 

You must be wondering why the quadruplets are in this science lab. They each have unique, extraordinary abilities. Jay, super strength, Jude, can move metal and usually uses indestructible chains as weapons, Michael, teleportation, and Ben, can turn into a flesh eating monster, but he hasn’t used his powers since he found out he had them, when he was 13 years old. This scientist named Dr. Craft has been experimenting on them for about 3 years. He kidnapped them when they were 13 and put them into a secret facility where they can’t use their powers. He is experimenting on them and to see if he can make a special serum that will give him all their powers made out of their DNA. Now that you’re all caught up, let’s resume. 

“We’re up, we’re up.” Jay said. “I can’t believe we’re still doing this.” Jude whispered. “Let’s go!” Dr. Craft said. The four were put into hospital beds and were about to get knocked out, but right before they were injected, Jude jumped up also grabbing his chain along the way. Right beside him all the other boys jumped up and headed for the exit, hesitantly. Right around the corner, an army of guards popped up with taser guns and tranquilizers. Michael tried to teleport, but like always it didn’t work. But Jude had a plan, instead of stopping he jumped into their room, or cell, and went under the bed. Jay, Michael, and Ben stopped and started thinking what the heck he was doing. Jay looked under to see what was going on and Jude wasn’t there, all that was there was a vent. 

“Guys, let’s go.” Jay said. They jumped down into the vent and into a small tunnel. “Guys, what took you so long?” Jude asked while laughing. They crawled down the cramped vent and headed for the exit.

All the guards were waiting outside for them. As soon as they stuck their heads out the vent door, Dr. Craft was staring right at them. “Boys, you know you can’t escape this place. It’s your life. Come back inside, I don’t want to do this the hard way.” 

“Michael, now!” Michael teleported them all out of there, and into an open field.

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Excerpt from NaNoWriMo Story 

By Shriya M.

The new channel suddenly changed to a woman who was standing in the middle of a road. She was jogging and you could hear screams in the background. I looked over at everyone else. I know that we were watching the news but the scene creeped me out and I wanted to know If I was hallucinating. The women on the news channel were breathing heavily and the same was with the camera man. There were also people running in the background of the video. I felt chills and when I looked over at everyone else I saw they also looked shocked and confused from the scene in front of you. I had a constant chill that was running through my body. The woman then said while still out of breath, “We are having a national, I mean global issue! We have zombies, no mutants, well you could still consider them zombies attacking everyone. They somehow got on planes and they started to spread and attack people spread around the globe. Someone came forward and admitted that there was a scientist who has been said to be illegally making zombies without being told they were allowed to. He somehow had gotten people who were willing to do this and nobody had yet snitched and told anyone else. When the zombies started to spread we got an anonymous report from someone who said that there was a scientist in America who did this but they didn't say their name or anyone else who was related to this incident's name. Everyone should be careful… The woman was getting more and more visibly scared. She continued to breathe hard before saying “Please leave me-” before she could finish her sentence, a man, but not a regular man. This man didn't have a regular skin tone. His skin was more of a pale green while his eyes were bloodshot. His body and hair were covered in grime and dirt which made him look disgusting. The man also had a huge cut on his waist but didn't seem to be bothered by it. You could see his ribs and his body was hemorrhaging in random places all over her body. The zombie sprinted into view and ran up to the new woman and jumpers on her.

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Prologue from NaNoWriMo Story 

By Jackson D.

The year was 2028 and as the mysterious taxi drove through New York City, not a person compacting the sidewalks seemed to notice the eeriness that the taxi had. For one, it was spray-painted with weird letters and characters from other languages. The windows had a pitch-black tint, making it impossible to get a view of the creepy driver. While many were oblivious there was one person who noticed this strange vehicle. Abigail, out on a shopping spree, happened to catch a glimpse as the taxi drove past. It made her question it and the people around. 

However, the sighting was soon forgotten, as Abigail continued to prepare for her birthday. It was soon to be her least favorite birthday ever. Let alone, day ever. She was to go birthday dress shopping for a special lunch with her friend. Would this be the end of Abigail? Would she be killed? How would this conflict be solved?

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Excerpt from I Know 

By Chloe L.

Emily was a great friend. My best friend actually, but she had some serious problems. For starters, she was impulsive. She would jump into a relationship completely blind. Like completely blind. I couldn't tell you the amount of boyfriends that she's had. She finds guys that are exciting… for about a week. Then, she dumps them like it meant nothing. Like they meant nothing. She sees no problem with it, but I am the one who will help her see. Soon, I will teach her what it's like to have a good boyfriend, not just an exciting one. 

Every Morning, I pick her up for school. We take my dad's truck. It's not technically mine, but I've been using it almost every day since I got my license, so it feels like mine. I come up the driveway and text her to let her know I'm here. She's always late, but I don't mind. She jumps inside, perfectly curled hair, bold red nail polish, and of course that classic Emily Roberts smile. It doesn't take us too long to get to school, only about fifteen minutes. On the way, we always talk about class, life, tests coming up, and her very new and improved boyfriend. This one's different (like she says about all of them), but I can't deny that it feels like that. It's been about a month and she still hasn't gotten bored. It's strange to see her like this. It's like somehow he's changed her. He's made her loyal. I'm happy for her, but a part of me still thinks that should be me. Well… the whole part of me believes that should be me. I've known her longer than he has, I know her already, and I have loved her already. Can't she see that, my undying love for her? Of course not but I like to believe she does. 

We arrive at school and go our separate ways. Too bad I'm not with her first period. I always stop by her class, though. Every morning I ask to go to the bathroom, but, instead, I walk by her classroom; if the door is closed, I stand there for a while. I like seeing her learning, investigating, and challenging ideas.

That's her best quality, her intelligence. If only she used it when looking for a new boyfriend, but we all have weak spots. Sometimes, it seems, she had quite a bit.

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Excerpt from Fahrenheit 250 

By Tommy G.

Also, he was very pessimistic with his units and orders and actions. After our meeting I walked up to him and asked “ What is your name officer?”. He said “ Officer Rolfe, Sir!”. After this, we chatted for a long time, talking about his past as a farmer in Southern Wisconsin and had led a small Uprising against the government in Appleton and heard of the gathering of troops in Green Bay and decided to join the ranks. But something was off about him, his build. He wasn’t very muscular, like most farmers. And a farmer in Wisconsin usually has very messed up hands because of the huge crop demand. But his hands were smooth and untampered with. After a few minutes of talking with many of the other officers in his corps, I had confirmed that his actions were mysterious and weird. I had just found my imposter.

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Excerpt from NaNoWriMo Story 

By Claire B.

Four years and three days since the apocalypse. 

I no longer remember how it started. 

I just remember waiting in the train station, praying for a way out. I was wearing a backpack stuffed to the brim with everything I had ever needed. I was standing there with a guy. I overheard him talking on the phone to his little sister. I suppose I was lucky, then. I hadn’t been in contact with my family for years. 

We sat on the train together. It was the most packed I had ever seen. There were children everywhere. Some sat in their parent’s lap. Others sat underneath seats. Most were crying. Everywhere I looked, I saw them. They were slow. They were weak. But they were there. I noticed a few people on the train coughing. I prayed wherever we were going I didn't need to be around any of them. 

The guy seemed to be nervous. He asked me what my name was. 

‘Jayden,’ I told him. I asked about his. 

‘Will,’ he said. 

I didn’t understand why he was trying to talk to me. Once this train stopped, I wouldn’t be seeing him ever again. 

The train stopped. Many times. People got off. More people got on. Once I eventually got off, I walked aimlessly. I had no plan. I saw people running. I saw people fighting. I even saw some people not moving at all. I walked past them. 

A few weeks of nothing. Things quieted down a bit. There were still people. But the fires stopped. Now there were only gunshots. 

I had supplies. I had enough to survive. But I got back on that train.

I remember sitting down. And then sleeping. And then waking up to the same guy sitting next to me. 

‘This has to be a joke,’ I thought. I looked at him. He looked different. Like he no longer had a purpose. 

But he gave me a small smile. I just stared back. 

I guess I would be seeing him again.

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Excerpt from Invisibility 

By McKenzie N.

It all started on a rainy, miserable Monday morning in early September. I don’t remember exactly what day it was, but it was my first day of school. I had just moved from Orlando, Florida to a small town in Seattle. After being used to sunny skies and sweltering hot days for all thirteen years of my life it was weird having to put on a sweatshirt and raincoat to leave for the bus. 

My mom and dad wished my sister and I luck as we ran out the front door down the stairs. As we sprinted to the bus to try to avoid the rain, my little sister Sasha asked me, “Reese, are you nervous for your first day at Bayside Junior High?” “No,” I responded, “How ‘bout you, you are going into your first year of middle school.” Sasha glanced nervously and admitted that she was scared she wouldn’t make any friends. I told her there was no need to be nervous, she would do just fine. Little did she know that under the fake smile on my face, I was a nervous wreck myself. 

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The bus ride to school was only fifteen minutes long, but it seemed to drag on forever. I sat with Sasha and we talked about things we were looking forward to in the day ahead. She was excited for soccer, she was trying out for the Bayside team, and I was excited to try out for the school musical. We were doing a play written by an eigth grader at the school called Don’t Mess With Magic. There were rumors going around that one of the props for the play was worth over 10,000 dollars. When the bus finally skidded to a stop, Sasha and I both said our goodbyes and headed to our assigned advisories. There I met my advisor, Mr. Bennett and his six other advisees. 

Out of all six, Mason, Bella, Jacob, Ariana, Trent, and Ryan, both Ryan and Jacob were in the school musical. I could tell right away that we would be really good friends. The three of us discussed our favorite play Hamilton, the whole advisory period long. As soon as the bell rang, I headed off to my first

class. After that the day flew by. I don’t remember much about the school day. There were typical first day classes, introducing yourself to everyone and learning about the teacher. We had an all school assembly although nothing out of the ordinary really occurred during that. I remember that there were the typical groups just like at my old school. Maddie, Mya, Mia, and Macy were the popular girls who were all my main competition for the lead in the play.

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Excerpt from NaNoWriMo Story 

By Julia K.

The next morning I woke up early for school. I went downstairs and Mama told me school was canceled. Most of the people living in my neighborhood were Japanese Americans, but there were also many people of other nationalities nearby. Papa said they were suspicious of all of us because of our heritage. Instead of getting my things together for school, I went outside to the swing. Our swing was an old piece of wood attached to a tree branch with ropes. I liked to sit there when I was drawing. I took out the new sketchbook I had gotten for my birthday. I drew the flowers Mama planted in the fall. They were little yellow flowers underneath the living room window. 

Once I was finished I stayed and swang for a while. I thought about the Japanese attack. I knew there were many other countries in Europe in a war at that time. Would the US be brought into the war as well? What is it like to live during a war? Why are people suspicious of Japanese Americans? I don’t remember people judging people from Germany, but isn’t Germany at war now? 

“Naomi, have you had breakfast yet?” Mama called to me from the back door. 

“Not yet,” I called back. 

“Come have some leftover pancakes from yesterday.” 

“Okay, coming.”

When I came inside Papa was listening to the radio. They were just talking about weather and other news stories. 

That afternoon I was downstairs and Papa was listening to the radio again. This time it was about the Japanese attack. “At 12:30 p.m. today, President Roosevelt addressed a joint session of the US Congress. He said, and I quote, ‘Yesterday, December 7, 1941 —a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.’” crackled through the old speaker. 

“He went on to say, ‘No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.’ President Roosevelt signed the declaration of war recently this afternoon. The United States is now at war with Japan.” Papa turned off the radio. 

“Papa?” I said. 

“What?” he answered. 

“What is war like?” 

“War is a terrible thing. I’ve never experienced it up close, but it's happening over in Europe right now.”

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Excerpt from Whispers from a Ghost 

By Lily B. 

I woke up at 5:45. Perfect. Just enough time to get ready and go meet Scarlett. I put on black leggings and a grey graphic t-shirt. I put on my Air Force 1’s and went downstairs. “Aurelia, you’re up early this morning." "Is everything alright?” she asked, sounding concerned. “Yea, I’m alright. I’m going to head out for a quick walk. Is that ok?” I asked, trying to get out of the house as fast as possible. I couldn't be late. I wouldn't dare. Who knows what she's capable of? I mean she seems super sweet, but after all if she is really what she says she is, she could be capable of anything. I walked for about a mile before coming across the graveyard again. I opened the door slowly since the gate was so old it could be heard miles away. When I walked to the exact spot I saw Scarlett last time, I saw her sitting on the bench. 

“Scarlett?” I asked, hesitantly 

“You came!” she squealed, getting up from the bench. “Come! sit with me,” she said, turning back to her bench and sitting down. 

“Uhm so Scarlett,’ I started, realizing I may be overstepping asking her this. But how much can I be overstepping? She already told me a lot. ‘So, Scarlett, what exactly happened to your mom? And what exactly happened to you? I mean was it an accidental death? Or did someone actually kill you because they didn’t like you? I’m just super confused,” I rambled, turning to look at her pale face. 

“Well, my mother was a very gullible person. When I turned 12, my mom took me to go see my grandparents. Now, I’ve never seen them before. My mom always said that they had a reputation for being strange. I thought nothing out of it, but it was that night that I heard screaming coming from the kitchen. I ran downstairs as fast as I could, and found my mother laying there.anyone was there, nobody was there. When I called out to see if The next day I found out that my grandparents left after they killed my mother.” She told me, looking down at her bare feet.''

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