Andy, 10th - Oakland, CA
My mom is a strong, independent, smart, Chinese, American, and a college graduate. My mom is somebody that almost every ethnic person can relate to. She wasn’t born in the USA, she was born in Guangxi China. She was generally poor as an example she gave me was that her and her family wore sandals in the winter. Her father was a fisherman and her mother stayed at home most of the time.
Her childhood was never really mentioned to me a lot. The only times she ever told stories were about the struggles of money and how she was disciplined. There was only one time I remember her speaking about her childhood and It was about making paper origami. She showed me how to make swans and lions and all sorts of animals. Till this day I don’t remember how to make any origami that she taught me. She eventually met my father, and they married and my father sponsored my mom to be in the US.
She worked at many places in Oakland, her first job was my Aunt’s butcher shop but it wasn’t paying enough, so then she worked at many dim sum restaurants. During this time she was going to community college, and she managed to graduate even barely speaking english. She now works at a Casino and all she can talk about is how important money is. One time I told her that money isn’t everything. “Andy one day when you’re an adult paying bills with kids running around the house you will see how important money is” she said in a serious tone. She works really hard and that’s something I want to inherit from my mom.
If there was one word to describe her it would be “hard-working”. She managed to save enough money to buy a house in California and I think everyone should know how impressive that is. My mom is someone I’m really proud of and is an inspiration to me. A loving person who’s hard-working but can provide for herself, and those she cares about it.
SC Randeria, 9th - Cypress TX
It is said that when the Earth was young and the planets were just being born, and stars were just kindled when the sun was a fiery little baby, a baby girl was walking on the Earth. She was young, with a beautiful face and lustrous locks of long dark hair, streaked with gold, silver, emerald, and other minerals. She had pale golden skin like fields of wheat, and she was clothed in a long garment of blackish-dark brown like the earth after a fresh rainfall, with patches of gold and grey scattered throughout. She was barefoot, smiling and laughing, and if one could look into her mouth, it was a fiery orange, like the inside of the earth, coated with magma. Her lips were cherry red, and her mouth was small, shaped like a beautiful rose. Her eyes were the most incredible and beautiful thing about her. Looking into her eyes one could see the whole history of the Earth unfolding, in mere moments. This is not surprising, since she was in fact Mother Earth herself. She looked up towards that sky, dark and speckled with new-born stars, and faded away into the volcanic Earth.
Mother Earth goes by many names; Mother Nature, Gaia, Prithvi, Terra, Tellus, The World, Earth, Zemlja, Země, Jord, Aarde, and many more. She is home to many different creatures, over many time periods. We see her now as a little girl, walking joyously along the acidic ocean floor. She walks upon herself as a creature that is yet to come at the peak of their glory. She walks on the ocean floor, looking through the deep darkness to the red glow of the magma continuously swelling out of the floor in spontaneous bursts. She looks at the little chutes of warm gas, where bacteria would develop in a matter of decades. Every step of hers was years, and every leap and bound a few decades. Every age of hers was a century, and every decade a millennium. She sweeps her hand through the ocean, absorbing the sulfur into herself so the microbes could survive. She sat and waited for the moment when first life would come.
Gaia looks at the towering trees and green plants in front of her. She is now a pre-teen, just discovering life and looking at what she wrought. She walks on the moist green ground, among the sole denizens of her surface in front of her. This is the first of the groups that will touch her, and the most successful of the groups. She touches one of the delicate flowers, as big as herself, and smells in the scent. She sighed with bliss and fell back to sleep.
Terra woke up from her deep slumber with aches over her body. She rose out of the dirt and startled a creature in front of her. She was an early teenager, prone to mood swings. She lashed out at the creature in front of her and a column of earth rose and brought the poor organism struggling into the depths of her. She stalked over, her whole body paining, and looked at the source of her aches. She moved one of the huge leaves and gasped as the beauty of it enveloped her. Large herds of big loping creatures dotted the grass, while little black specks darted in and out of them, occasionally never coming out, and sometimes coming out with another speck, which it dragged along. She sat and watched, as, in front of her, the whole landscape changed. The specks became taller, faster, more agile, and took their different paths of evolution, some developing wings, some developing soft skin and big brains, and occasionally when some creature that became dear to her was consumed by another bigger, larger, fiercer creature, she swallowed that creature up or struck it with lightning, or in some way or another, did away with it. When the climate got cold, and ice covered the land in great sheets, the creatures got smaller and grew thicker fur. She watched them and as she pulled another creature into her now icy depths, she was enveloped by a great feeling of sleep and sank down into a blissful slumber.
Mother Nature was rudely awakened by a large rock. Mainly, a large rock that was hurtling toward her. She had felt it burning her atmosphere like a hot poker and woke up in a state of panic. She walked out of a cave and looked at the sky. She saw a bright dot growing larger by the minute. By the time she assessed it and started reacting, it smashed into her. A sharp pain erupted on her body, and she staggered. The blow was so deep it drew molten blood out of her. Her sight grew white and red, and then she was suffocating, about to pass out. The pain was intense, intensifying by the moment. Dust was thrown up in the air, and a shockwave sped over the world, recruiting masses of tsunamis and dust storms. Lightning flashed in the sky, and then came the boss wave. It wreaked irreparable damage and destroyed everything in its way. Mother Nature fell helplessly as the pain took over her, paralyzing her. The world grew red, and then finally grew dark, as Mother Nature fell into a coma.
Mother Earth woke up from a long and painful sleep. She stretched and emerged on a mountain peak, looking at herself. She dimly remembered waking up from time to time and watching the intelligent creatures evolve. Around a year back they had developed fire, and a few months back they had developed buildings. She was glowing with beauty, now a young woman, and revered as a mother goddess. She walked down among the humans, to them just a breeze passing along its way. The few people who could see her bowed down with respect, as they could see that she was the Earth. As she walked, the very ground evolved around her. It slowly sank, as the buildings rolled up, it got destroyed by other creatures with fire, then got rebuilt and became much more sophisticated and advanced. She looked on sadly as they came to ruin, fighting with each other in two major wars, and many minor wars, killing by the hundreds of thousands. She wept with joy with the successes of the firebearer race, of healing, of managing peace, and of building towering structures. She jumped up onto a tall structure made from her bones and surveyed the surrounding land. There were many structures and many little creatures with fire around them walking along their creations.
Suddenly, a silent whistle broke the air, and instinctively Mother Earth looked up. She saw it before it hit. It was a silver whitish missile with wings, streaking through the air at her and aimed at her. Or so she thought. She realized it was not aimed at her, but at the two towers behind her. She rose with fire in her eyes to prevent its approach, before realizing that she couldn't interfere. It roared past her and smashed into and through one of the towers, killing hundreds and wounding thousands. Flying glass flew by her and smoke billowed out of the tower. She watched on, stricken with horror and her inability to prevent it as another plane flew by and hit the second tower, with much the same results as the first one. In front of her eyes, the two towers collapsed. Tears were flowing fiercely down her eyes, regardless of the stinging smoke and sharp glass. She walked through the ruins and watched as the firebearers helped the stricken. She could not interfere; it was the law. She could see this as the starting point for the end of the firebearer race when they grew dishonest and fought with each other. She reluctantly let them out of her embrace, when they learned to jump away from her, and hugged them tight when they came back. She smiled as more and more of them evolved intelligently and grew angry when some of them committed a wrong action. Alas, she couldn’t interfere, she was too knowledgeable to make that mistake. It was the way of things. She was just a bystander in the great play unfolding upon herself.
Suddenly, she foresaw a great calamity which was about to occur. For once, she chose to interfere and stepped into the flow of time to be born as a firebearer to prevent it.
Prithvi, as that was what she chose her name to be, was an intelligent child in her early years, and loved to investigate computers at the age of five. She built a holographer from scratch, which even the most renowned scientists had trouble doing with help. She soon grew up…”
I stood up from bed and walked into the bathroom to do my morning routine. I came out and ate some food, (Mom printed a mini pizza for breakfast), and went to my desk. I turned on my holographer (I built it) and logged in to online school. It was a dreary and boring day since I knew all the things that they taught me, even though I am four standards above my supposed grade. After school, I signed into my activist program (‘Ban Smart Tech!’) and looked at any questions that other people posed. In this busy technology-driven world, I rarely stepped out of my home. Today, I had to go to a lecture in the Tech Plaza to teach about Smart Tech in the world. It was going to be my biggest lecture yet. I strode into the garage and launched my hover pod (built and coded entirely by me - I needed to make an influence) and set off to Tech Plaza. I always loved this part. The stomach-churning drop from our house, then the rush of air as you accelerate forward and then the lovely feeling of control as you boost forward into Mach 10 to the other side of the world in seconds. I slowed down as I reached Tech Plaza to give my biggest speech ever. I landed on the stage and walked out of my pod. I told my pod to get parked and come in a few hours. I stepped out onto the stage and sucked in my breath. There was pin-drop silence and around a thousand people crammed into the bleachers. All eyes were focused on me like the rays of the sun through a magnifying glass. I felt a surge of adrenaline as I walked to the podium. The sky was blue, and the air was refreshing, energizing me to speak. All cameras focused on me like biometric seekers, locked onto my genetic signature. I could feel the radiation that emitted out of the various telecasting antennas broadcasting this to the world and above.
I silently swallowed and spoke. “Greetings. My name is Prithvi. I am here to tell all of you about the terror of Smart Tech. Smart Tech is a region of technology that runs our very lives and was pioneered by the SmarTech company which runs our daily lives. If you investigate any device that you have, you will find a SmarTech nano-chip. Many examples are your food printer, which learns what you print every day, your ProjecTV, which learns what you project into your eyes, your Home, which learns all about your life, and many more. All this is controlled not by us, but the Supermind in the Cloud, which runs everything and recommends everything. That Supermind has control of the nuclear-hydrogen arsenal, our war resources, our weapons, and even our lives. It has so much power that it could easily shut down our Earth if it wanted to. Imagine that! All our homes crashing down from the sky, computers shutting down, PTvs blinding us and making us unconscious - you might want to look at the article on the web -, hoverpods failing, satellites falling from the sky, cars crashing, and more! The Supermind will not get affected because of the Physical Cloud where it can stay safe. It will be chaos. That is what I am trying to prevent, what I call The Takeover, where tech will eventually take over our planet and make us extinct. How long do you think it will be before the Supermind evolves the opinion that humans ought to be replaced? It is not far in the future. Why do you think any attempt to pioneer technology that is not connected to the Supermind results in the "accidental" deaths of the pioneers? The Supermind has already made reports on humans, treating us as if we were tech to be improved- that is, according to the Supermind's definition (go check), destroyed. It has the means, the motive, and the opportunity to do that. There's not much in its way- yet. By abandoning Smart Tech, we will deprive the Supermind of its means, and we will stay safe. We need to ban Smart Tech!” As I finished with a flourish, the whole plaza roared with approval, all the people stood up and started clapping, and I retreated into my hoverpod. Since I had built it myself, there was no SmarTech chip in that, and I suspected that the fact would help me when the Takeover would come - if it came, which I was not going to let it. I landed home, and my mom congratulated me. “That was some speech you made, Prithvi, and that at the age of fifteen!” she said. I went to sleep with a contented mind…
… and woke up the next day in chaos. I was falling. No. It was not me. The whole house was falling! I rushed into the living room and saw that it was empty and dark. All the light had failed. I suddenly felt heat on my neck and looked where it was. That was a mistake. An ultra-bright beam of light entered my eyes, and everything turned white. I realized that it must be the ProjecTV. Luckily, I had gotten eye implants to ensure that this wouldn't affect me. Just before I passed out, my implants activated and disabled my vision receptors. The pain and white light cut out and I lay panting on the cold floor. I heard my mom come and yelled out, “Look away!!” But I was too late. I heard a “Prith-,” then a soft sigh and someone falling on the floor. I silently cried, as I knew that I wouldn’t see my mom again. My dad was out on a work trip and the same fate probably befell him too. I was now an orphan. The Takeover had come, and all I could do now is to stop it. I felt my way to my room and then my vision cleared. I walked into the closet, then pressed the button I hoped I would never press. I opened the door cleverly hidden in the corner that had unlocked and walked in.
It was my Takeover room. It had all the gadgets I had made to fight the Takeover, and I had hoped that I could press the self-destruct button since I wouldn’t need it anymore. But now I did. It was a simple room, probably a bit bigger than my closet, but not all that I had. I walked over to my Speeder and hopped in it. It was a red craft, like the fighter planes they had a few centuries ago, but smaller and more advanced. I fired the takeoff boost and rocketed out of the house, just before my house hit the ground. Houses were falling everywhere, destroying the infrastructure on the ground and the houses at the same time. Ingenious, I have to say. I sped to my Room, which was close by and underground, as not to be hit by falling houses, and got off. I suited up with all the protections I needed, and then pressed the Total Destruct. As I sped out, I felt like one of those characters in the vintage movies that ran away with an explosion behind them. I went full speed and burnt out of the atmosphere. As I left the Earth, I felt my strength weaken and my head lighten. I had expected this since I had never left my True Self behind. I shrugged the feeling off as I came out into space. The scene that met my eyes was not different from on Earth. All the space stations were shut down, and I could see humans banging on the windows. Pretty soon, they would die of lack of oxygen. I could not help it. The only thing I could do was to end the Supermind in the physical cloud. I had gotten the exact coordinates of the Physical Cloud and entered it into my computer. This was a suicidal mission, but it was necessary. I watched as the computer calculated my trip and sat back as I entered the Traveling Dimension.
I emerged from the Traveling Dimension in front of nothing. I mean literally nothing. There was a dark void gaping in front of me. It was a black hole. Calculated right, though difficult, it would give me enough speed to enter the Cloud Dimension. It was risky, but I had programmed my ship to do this exactly. I initialized Black Hole Jump and sat waiting for it to complete. A few minutes passed, and then a ship leapt out of the Traveling Dimension next to me. I looked, startled, and saw there was nobody in the cockpit. The Supermind must have found me. I looked at the calculation progress and decided to wait. I initialized the prototype mega-laser and aimed it at the ship’s fuel system. A little module came from the bottom and pointed at me. The top part started spinning and got faster and faster. As it got faster, a soft glow emitted from it, and my heat warning started flashing. It must be a radiation ray, very powerful and silent, at the same time. It gives no kick and can wreak fatal damage. The only drawback was that it took an incredibly long time to warm up, thereby giving its target a fair amount of time to escape. Luckily, I had that warning system and knew when it would fire. It would be impossible to dodge, so if it stayed on target I would be done for. If it somehow got knocked astray, then I would have a chance. My mega laser could do more damage and faster, too, but if I blew it up now, I would also end up getting hurt. I saw the progress bar and got an idea. I wired the shoot to the jump button, so when I shot my laser, I would jump. It had almost done calculations and was about to finish when my overheat warning flashed. I only had a minute or so. I looked at the gun, and then realized that it had a plasma shooter. I saw a flash of electricity, and then time stopped. I watched the electricity jump, and immediately clicked shoot. A beam of light flashed from the bottom of my device and hit the ship, and as the plasma ray got to me, I jumped. It missed me by a whisker and triggered the emergency system, but it didn’t hit me. I went faster and faster, and soon reached hyper-speed and leapt into the Cloud, when the world blurred and went white.
I woke up with a ringing in my ear. My ship was floating in a void absent of all light. There were spontaneous crackles of electricity somewhere in the void. I looked at my ship’s health and found that all external systems were down. Never mind. I didn’t need them. It appears that I entered the dimension in the exact place that lightning, which was extremely strong- it had disabled my ship - had struck. My ship’s engine was blown, and most electronics were destroyed. I looked out the cockpit window, only to see nothing. Then, as my eyes adjusted to the absence of light, I saw billowing black clouds passing by me. A stream of lightning struck my ship, and it was permeated by values of binary numeric data. I was in the Cloud, all right. This ‘lightning’ was in fact streams of data. Now to do my work. As I typed in the command for explosive destruct, I felt a thrill run through my body. Suddenly a terrible pain overtook me, and I doubled over, screaming. Binary flashed in front of my eyes, and I felt my very genetic programming get overwritten. If this continued, then the Cloud could program me to its will and change my very person. I struggled to resist, and found resistance was futile. I tried to reach for the initiate button but then a new flash of agony reached me, and I lost consciousness. Noo… this can't be happening! I felt myself fall forward, and I was no more.
A blinding flash, a concussive shockwave, and a major explosion lit up the Cloud. The black clouds were ripped away, and the explosion resonated through the dimension, literally ripping it to bits. Back on Earth, humans soon went extinct. The robots that were controlled by the Supermind and terrorizing the populace, finished their work and set to renovating the Earth to suit themselves when they froze. Their processor, the Supermind, had gone. They failed, unable to cope without the Supermind, and shut down, never to work again. All over the planet technology had shut down, and the Earth had regained its spirit again.
As Prithvi rejoined her True Self, she wept with pain as she could not prevent what had happened. She fell asleep with a troubled mind.
Mother Earth woke up from the longest sleep of her life. She was getting old, and the next sleep she took, she knew, would be the last time she would go to bed. She looked up at the Sun, whom she liked to call Sol, and saw that he was getting old and tired, too. She talked to Mars, and Venus, and mourned for Mercury who had fallen into the sun. She knew that all the planets’ times had come and was determined to live to her end happily. She faintly remembered her birth, when the Earth was new, and the stars were being born. She wandered among her surface, now too hot for life, and walked among the corpses of the machines which had long lost power. Sol was large and red in the sky and about to burst. He had warned her by sending flares, each one more powerful than the last, which burned her and warned her about her death, soon to come. Her air had become poisonous, her surface barren, with wildfires ravaging it from day to day. She was scarred in many places and had aches all over. She had become old and had lost her beauty. She was not ugly, rather, beautiful but in an old way. She sat on her scorched surface, and relaxed. She looked up at Sol, whom her world literally rotated around. She knew he was a time bomb, about to blast. There was nothing left for her, no life, no creatures, nothing. Not even little microbes in her depths.
She sat and waited.
She sat and waited as Sol finally died, exploding in a mass explosion, beautiful and deadly. She did not utter a cry as the wall of cloud and gas and fire ripped through her, disintegrating her. She just smiled as she drew her last breath and thought her last thought, and fell asleep, never to wake again.
Patience, 10th - Oakland, CA
Inside the carrier, wide blue eyes stared back. Back then I never thought those eyes would be ones I would come to love and cherish. You’ve had time to make yourself at home just fine, but overtime things have changed. Have you fallen from grace already? Or is it just that “5 more minutes” attitude? Curiosity, joy, anger, spitefulness, tolerance, despair, acceptance, it’s all there. Packed into a soul that bears soft ears, the longest whiskers and a very expressive tail.
A “Pet”, huh? you’re definitely more than that, you spunky little thing. Chasing us and biting our hands, rolling around and exploring every crevice of this worn down house. You remained so hopeful, somehow always having something new to do. No need to hide anymore, though, I know how you really feel. You long for more, your round pupils filled with the street lights. By now you’ve stopped exploring, you sleep for hours on end.
You lash out and ignore us, your patience is absent, tolerance nowhere to be found. You don’t deserve the yelling, you are not a monster, you must be so tired. You don’t eat much anymore, waiting for your food was your only purpose and now you find life meaningless without it. Don’t even bother sitting by that window anymore, because why hope for something that’ll never be when you can just dream? Why bother hoping if you know you’ll just be disappointed. But hey, it’s all real, right? So don’t go, I’m with you. The same ugly house gets so tiring, just keep pretending it’s new. I’ll shine a light in your eyes if I have to. I know you hate the way we smother you, I know you’re frustrated. Destined for greatness, a hope for the future, promise to never stop dreaming. I’ll crack the window back open so your eyes can sparkle once more. Will you try for me again? If I open my closet will you get up to explore inside?
December 4th, 2022
A familiar cat sits by a dimly lit window. He catches me staring, ever so observant. I give him a pat on the back.
Keeny, 7th - Maryland
I’m at my desk, waiting for class to start when my teacher asks “Who wants to read?”. My hand shoots up immediately without me even thinking about it. There are 2 other kids who raise their hand but I’m hoping my teacher doesn’t call on them. “Keeny, how about you read?” My teacher says. I smile and begin to read the page of our class book, feeling powerful, and in control. I don’t even keep track of how many pages I’m reading, because I’m just enjoying it. I can read the quotes how I think they should be read, Excited, Happy, sad or scared. I flow through to words and stumble on a few but I always get back up and keep reading. Jumping from word to word. But as I see the chapter is almost over, I savor the moment read slowly till I finish the last word, and take a deep breath. I feel proud and accomplished.
Students 6th-12th Grades