2011 Writing Contest: Be the Change You Want to See

Second Place Creative Writing

One Voice, One Legacy

Chase Wilson, Westerville Central High School, Westerville, OH, (Teacher: Jim Grannis)

The electric buzz of the school bell was instantly drowned out by the sudden crescendo of the students' voices. As Mr. Brewer's government class fought its way out the door, one student remained behind to put up her classmates' chairs. Just as she was stooping to pick up her own seat, Mr. Brewer rushed into the classroom.

"Stupid Scantron machine," he gasped wiping large beads of sweat off his beefy forehead. "I was hoping to make it back in time to give you guys your grades....Oh, there's no need for that today, Emma." He gave Emma a small smile as she dolefully set down her chair. "Key Club is meeting here today. Why don't you hang around for the meeting?"

Emma averted her eyes and shuffled her feet. The truth was that she really wanted to join the group, but felt as if she wouldn't be able to contribute much. After all, the school's Key Club was renowned for its plethora of contributions to the school and community.

"Mr. Brewer....I-I don't know if I can," she said in a hushed whisper. Being the youngest of six siblings, Emma felt as if her opinion had no weight. Anything she thought of had already been done. She was always second best, always watching from the sidelines but never getting a chance to stand in the spotlight. What could she ever offer to an organization as big as Key Club?

"Nonsense," he said with a reassuring smile. "Your class work is always significantly stronger than that of your classmates, and you always seem to be able to find some sort of unique solution to nearly impossible problems. You'll do just fine. Ah, here they are now."

It was as if someone had sent the classroom back in time ten minutes to the exodus of students leaving class, but instead of students trying to leave class, they were fighting to get in. It took at least ten minutes for the students to make their way in and claim their seats. Emma found her way to a remote corner of the classroom under a poster detailing the Silent Generation during the 1960's. The room quieted as a tall junior proceeded to the front of the classroom to address the club. For a moment, Emma was stunned. This boy was her longtime friend Tyler. She had no idea that he was the Key Club president!

"Okay guys! As you may already know, this would normally be the time of year where we would be planning our annual Christmas Cookie Walk to raise money to buy gifts for kids who won't be able to celebrate Christmas. Unfortunately, we're not allowed to do the cookie walk this year due to the freshman that had an allergic reaction from our peanut butter cookies. The administration said that we have to either come up with a new fundraiser or not do anything this holiday season."

A cry of mutiny broke out from the students.

"Hey, I'm only repeating what Land said," yelled Tyler, raising his voice to be heard above the ruckus. "If you guys care anything about the club, then you need to think of a new idea!"

The students were instantly silenced. Tyler surveyed the students with a look of desperation engraved upon his face. How could the club not care about creating a new fundraiser? Didn't they realize what was at stake? If he failed at this new task, then he failed himself. He would forever be known as the first Key Club president to fail at raising money for the children. Tyler's legacy would be forever tarnished by one little cookie.

"Doesn't anyone have an idea?"

One girl tentatively raised her hand. In a voice barely louder than a whisper, Emma spoke to the club.

"Well, at my old school, one of the sports teams did this thing called a 'bake-less' bake sale. Instead of having people spend money on supplies for cookies and selling the cookies for less than the cost that it took to make them, we asked for people to only donate the money that they would have ordinarily spent on baking. It was incredibly popular. Even though there was nothing to buy, people were glad to be able to directly donate 100% of that money to the cause." She lowered her head down to the ground. "Stupid idea. Sorry I bothered you guys with it."

Tyler's face broke into a large lopsided smile.

"Emma, that's probably the best idea this club has ever had. So I think you can be the head overseer of the organization of the sale...."

By the end of the meeting, the entire club was fired up for the bake-less bake sale. Together, they came up with a collective school-wide goal of $5,000 and decided to open it up to the different class advisories as a competition. The winning class would be recognized at an assembly.

The day of the assembly, all of the school crowded into the auditorium. The students hushed as Mrs. Lang stepped to the lone podium at the center of the stage.

"Good morning Trojans! This Christmas, over 100 children will wake up to find presents under their trees, thanks to the contributions that you all have made. It is thus my pleasure to announce that we have surpassed our school's goal of $5,000 by collecting over $50,000! The winning advisory is Mr. Brewer's class! I am also pleased to announce that the school, with some help from City Council, will offer a brand new scholarship this spring to one boy and one girl who have actively served the community. We find it fitting that the first beneficiaries of the scholarship will be Tyler and Emma. This scholarship will be given annually in their honor. Thank you both for the service that you have done. You legacy will never be forgotten."