“They Are The Patriots”

“They Are the Patriots”

by Haley Lee
2012 Young Authors of AZ Gold Key Winner and American Voices Medal Winner
School: BASIS Scottsdale in Scottsdale, AZ
Mentor teacher: Hadley Ruggles


Soldiers chasing savage beauty tear down the horizon with precision.
This is a crusade against compassion, against the old regime and a
fear of apology,
so raise your weapons.
Missiles kiss the skyline and we are done
in a flair of gunpowder and smoked horror.
Children holding hands with skyscrapers
scrape their mothers’ blood from the kitchen floor
and every night they wish for the bombs to stop falling so they can
start living.
Feet muddy,
hearts stained.

They are the patriots.

Land mines triggered by our greed
melt skin from bone,
slitting scars in the Earth deep as the Grand Canyon.
So much for the sanctity of human life.
Our fingers are stained like roses from the wounds of another
and a bleeding flag keeps a thousand caskets warm.
There are families trapped inside temples set ablaze
that turn to ash with their heads tilted toward the heavens.

They are the believers.

Continents are shaking.
Every time we vote for war, can you hear the pulse of the innocent?
It is the anthem of the forgotten,
the cry of the victim.

It is the sound of a shovel pounding out midnight funerals
inside a city that weeps for its fallen.
But for every shot fired we are digging our own graves.
Hide behind the pursuit of Justice,
but the terror of a life severed short cannot fit into a seven-letter excuse.
Our hate spans oceans and we are using virtue as a reason to kill.
Who handed you the right to judge?

A triplet, fencer and musician, Haley Lee is from Scottsdale,
Arizona. She wrote this piece after reflecting, in the post-9/11 era,
on her family history during WWII—her mother’s Polish and Austrian
family in German concentration camps and her paternal family’s
displacement after the Japanese invasion of China.

“Hands of a Child”

“Hands of a Child”

by Sabrina Ramirez
2012 YAA Gold Key winner
short story

A tall, dark-looking man stood in silence amidst the swirling sand and gushing water. The Waters of Life seem to be restless again, thought the man, scratching his stubbly chin. His robes would not sit still on his figure as the pearlescent deep blue cloth almost floated around him. Chronos stooped down and cupped the sacred liquid in his hands. He brought it over to a small bowl, letting the water pour between his fingers into it.

All of a sudden, a young woman entered through the doorway, carrying a small bundle of golden cloth. Inside that bundle was a child. She brought it over to Chronos.

The Waters of Life immediately thrust out to create a small basket, weaving streams of itself through and around each other, perfectly embracing the child in its grasp. Chronos waved the woman away. He approached the child and lifted it out of the watery basket. He could now see that she was a little girl of about four, with short hair in dark brown curls around her head. She was miraculously dry.

The swirling sands calmed and snaked around Chronos and the child, mimicking the Waters of Life. As the Sands of Time intertwined with the Water, Chronos noticed that the liquid seemed saddened. Curious, he lifted the girl out of the golden blanket. She remained unresponsive. His expression turned grim as he saw the huge bruise and deep cuts all over the girl’s chest and body. She’s not bleeding, but then, her heart isn’t beating either.

He turned to the Sands of Time. Clutching the dead girl in one arm, Chronos gathered a few grains in his outstretched palm. Exiting the whorls of water and sand, he stepped over to the bowl, where the water had begun to get restless, splashing against the sides of the bowl. He sprinkled the sand into the churning liquid. It instantly calmed and began swirling with the sand, changing from clear, vibrant water into a dark murkiness. Chronos plucked a single, curled hair from the girl’s head and dropped it in with the rest. Summoning a small cradle out of

Turning back to the bowl, whose surface had glazed over in a mixture of pale, shimmery colors, Chronos dipped a finger of his left hand into it and laid it on the girl’s forehead. Keeping his hand on the child, he gazed into the bowl. The few memories of life the child had coursed up Chronos’s left arm and through his body, pouring out of his eyes into the bowl, like quicksilver. When all was gathered into it, he removed his hand from the child and covered her with the golden cloth, as if she was sleeping. He fixed his gaze on the bowl of memories as they began to play through his head…


“Mommy, can I keep one?” A young girl’s innocent voice interrupted the peacefulness. She was wearing a small, purple, flower-print hat and a comfortable play dress. In her right hand was a small Blue’s Clues toy. Her dark brown, curly hair tickled her neck. She looked up at a woman with her chocolate brown eyes full of excitement.

“Can I? Pleeeeease?” she begged, pointing at the yellow dandelions lining the cracked sidewalk. The woman turned

“Yes, of course you can, Lily.” She looked exactly like the little girl, or rather, the little girl looked exactly like her.

Lily giggled happily and bent over. With her small, chubby, toddler fingers, she plucked a fully bloomed yellow dandelion, just beginning to look fuzzy. She was grinning ear to ear when the waters began swirling again…


Darkness cloaked a small, grassy area in front of the apartments. The smell of rain and wet grass drenched the air.

Lily darted around, waving her arms gleefully. Stars sprinkled the night sky like toppings on a cupcake. Glowing insects flitted and swirled around her tiny figure. Lily slashed wildly through the air, her tiny hands grasping a clear plastic box with a green lid. Her mother sat on a bench by their apartment. The two lived in the unit on the bottom right of the complex, which appeared to be a large house. It had six apartments, two on each of its three floors.

Two of the neighbors’ kids joined Lily in her endeavor. The three jumped around, their hands grasping a single firefly if they were lucky, empty air if they weren’t. Lily went home with three, captured in her plastic bug box, smiling gaily as if the fireflies were the greatest thing in the world for a small girl to have…


Lily sat in a small, dark living room on a couch. Her teacher, and across-the-street neighbor entered the room, stepping over her three cats, to sit down across from the girl. From behind her back, she pulled out two brightly wrapped sherbet pops. Lily’s face lit up like a candle.

“Push Ups! Thanks!” She eagerly tore off the cap and began attempting to push the small straw on the bottom of the Flintstones-decorated tube. When her little hands finally forced the sherbet out enough to lick some off, she

“I did it! I did it! Look, Mrs.Williams!” Lily began attacking the sherbet, savoring the sweetness of the cold treat.

She didn’t pay attention to the sticky orange drips running down her fingers…


When the waters ceased their movement, Lily was seated in a car seat, staring out the window of the car’s backseat.

“Mommy, look! A big truck wants to say hi!” She pointed gleefully out the window, her chubby finger pressed to the glass. Her mother glanced to her left to see a giant sixteen-wheeler coming straight at them, straight at her daughter. Her eyes widened in terror, her body paralyzed.

“Hi! Hi truck!” The truck driver belted the horn frantically. He slammed the brakes, but it didn’t stop. “LILY!!!”

Shattered glass and the sickening sound of tearing metal resounded through the air as the truck ripped through the


Snapping out of his trance, Chronos lifted his eyes from the bowl. He sadly gazed at the child, whom he now knew to be called Lily. Lifting her from the cradle, he held her to his chest. She was so young, thought Chronos.  She didn’t deserve to die!

All of a sudden, the Waters of Life roared and gushed towards the two, enfolding them in it’s watery limbs. Prying Lily from Chronos’s arms, it whirled around her until she was floating limply in a sphere of the sacred liquid. The mixture of her memories flowed out of the bowl, slithering on air as it meshed with the ball. The Waters of Life spun faster and faster, changing from it normal liquid transparency into a bright sphere of colorful light. Chronos shielded his eyes in fear of being blinded by the rays of light streaming out from what seemed like the center of the ball. What’s happening? I’ve never seen the Waters behave this way! Lily’s tiny figure was still visible in the bright ball, as it sped up. Suddenly, the ball burst, sending colorful droplets into the air around Chronos. The girl was nowhere to be seen.


Lily awoke on a scratchy bed with strange machines beeping around her.

“Lily?!” Her mother’s puffy, red eyes snapped open. Immediately, she embraced her daughter and began to sob. The doctor, just about to leave the hospital room, whipped around, white coats flapping.

“WHAT?! Wait, there is no way she could…She was dead a minute ago!”

A nurse exclaimed, “Praise Jesus! We have witnessed a miracle right here, in this very hospital!”

Lily blinked, confused by all the fuss. “Huh? What are you talking about?” She gasped. Bringing her hand to her face,  she unclenched her tiny fingers. Inside was a single drop of water.

Shall we make YAAzine and an annual book?


Merging YAA’s interest in branching out, this section of the site would be dedicated to an emerging online literary magazine. For another example of an exemplary Scholastic ‘zine, check out The (Parenthetical), an online zine for Writopia Lab.

Can we make a Young Authors “Best of” book? Yes we can…

The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers publishes an annual Best Teen Writing paperback book each year; the .PDF version is free for anyone to download by either going to the Alliance’s site or to the right-column footer of Teen Trails (look down for free awesome books). Since 2010, the YAA has envisioned localizing this idea by taking each year’s top Scholastic Writing Awards entrees from Arizona and compiling an annual Young Authors of AZ “Best of (each year) paperback book.

“I’ve long admired the honesty of teen compositions,” said Young Authors co-founder and Valley English teacher Billy Gerchick, “and keep asking this core question: ‘How can our best Arizona teen authors be empowered to share their writing with peers and classroom teachers looking for exemplary, engaging, cost-effective texts to learn from?’ A ‘Best of’ anthology isn’t the only answer but it’d give young authors the annual chance to have their voices heard by sharing; sharing with peers, with teachers looking for teen-synthesized writing for their classes, and for anyone to simply enjoy reading. There’s power through publishing.”

Is this already being done by a Scholastic affiliate? Yes it is…

We’re focused on publishing an annual Best of Young Arizona Authors by May of 2014, a paperback a collection of polished versions of select State-level Scholastic Writing Awards compositions.

At least one other Scholastic affiliate, Washington D.C.’s Writopia Lab, publishes their anthology: a real paperback book by teen authors, co-edited by teens and teachers. Check out Writopia D.C.’s On the Subject of Walruses and Raw Feet as examples of what Arizona could accomplish. Kathy Crutcher, director of D.C.’s Writopia Lab, has already given guidance how to meaningfully and responsibly and efficiently create our own paperback anthology.

So how much would our own book cost? It’d be free…

In an era of limited budgets for Arizona’s schools, the book would available for free in .PDF form, on the Teen Trails site, and for all Arizona teachers & young authors to download (like the free national publications below): for young Arizona authors, by young Arizona authors. Family members, friends, teachers and English departments that value purchasing the book could do so through Amazon.com.

A 200-page paperback book can be printed, using Amazon.com’s “Create Space,” for less than $4 a piece and sold through Amazon.com. In-fact, books can be printed on speck which makes initial print costs manageable. An affordable and responsible price would be available and all proceeds would go to the YAA paying its affiliate fee to the Scholastic Writing Awards, putting on the annual ceremony, and putting on events throughout the state to encourage young authors. The YAA is a non-profit and all proceeds would go to benefit Arizona’s young authors.

Who would be able to earn space as a published author? You would…

Next year any grade 7-12 young author has the chance to earn print space (and online space through the YAAzine) by the quality of their submissions to the 2014 Scholastic Writing Awards’ Arizona region. Writopia D.C.’s authors earn print space by earning Scholastic Writing Gold Keys for their compositions and we’d consider that model as a criterion. Respecting Arizona’s American Voices nominees and our national Gold Medal and Silver Medal winners from 2012 and 2013, these authors would also be invited to revise and publish their work for our inaugural anthology.

If nominated for publication around mid-February of 2014, the author would have about a month to keep all content control of his or her work while revising it to meet conventions and genre formatting publication standards. You’d also would fill out an author questionnaire to share a brief bio, recognize your mentor teacher, give context to your published piece, explain one literary, stylistic, or rhetorical device that you’re proud of and would like to share, describe what you want to do with your writing talents, share a book recommendation, etc. This information would go in after your story so each published work’s educational value would increase.

We want to and can do this… with your help!

We’re looking to create partnerships with publishers and, in future years, make this publication annual. Please fill out the 2013 AZ SCHOLASTIC WRITING CEREMONY RSVP FORM if you’re interested in helping get support for, contribute to, and volunteer edit the YAAzine, TeenTrails.org, and/or the 2014 Best Teen Writing of AZ book.