The Sentence Center’s Essay Contest Winners

Summer 2016 Winner – Middle School Level
Prompt: What would you create if you had unlimited funding?

Change the Community
Ava F., 8th grade

Last year, my classmates and I ventured on a field trip for community service to the Opportunity Center in East Palo Alto. The Opportunity Center is a food hall where families who need help affording food can go for their meals. This trip took place a couple of days before Halloween, so we served a Halloween themed meal for the families. It was such a rewarding thing to see the smiles emerge on their faces as we danced and sang songs and served them. When it was time for us to go, we hopped on the bus which was to take us back to school. The people from the Opportunity Center walked off too. But they weren’t going back to school as we were. Some of the lucky ones would be going home, though some of these people would be going back to their begging on the streets. I knew that this had to change. If I had unlimited funding, I would create a place where people living in poverty could go to until they were ready to support themselves on their own. This site would include food, shelter, private funding, and mental/physical health care. Children would receive education help while adults would receive help finding work.

Did you know that according to The World Bank, $1.25 is the daily budget for food, medicine, and shelter for over 1 billion people across the globe? Or that in 2010, one out of every six Americans were enrolled in at least one government antipoverty program? Or that one in every four American children revived food stamps in 2011? Is this okay? No. But is it fixable? Absolutely. At my help center, patients would get unlimited meals to supply their every need. Have you ever wondered why the homeless people living on the streets couldn’t just get up and find work? It’s because they don’t have the nutrients to power their bodies. Everyone needs to have the required amount of carbohydrates (provides energy), protein (builds and repairs tissue), fats (provides backup energy), vitamins and minerals (maintains optimal health) and most importantly, clean water (enables voila bodily functions).

Having shelter can be something as little as having a room in my help center. Home is more than just a roof over your head. For many people, having a home is liking having a real place in the world. Real estate nowadays is expensive, so for individuals who cannot afford to feed themselves, the design is already made for them. At my help center, those who need it can (for free) stay in a room for as long as necessary, until they are ready to purchase a home of their own.

Having health care issue is very critical for several reasons. Uninsured people will revive less medical care and less timely care which will result in worse health outcomes as well as the fact that the lack of insurance is a burden for them and their families. Some states in the US have already provided patients with reasonable health care and insurance, but I believe that we need to make this reality to the rest of them. If people in poverty are not already reviving the health benefits that we get, they are easily more prone to diseases, viruses, along with other deadly sicknesses.

I know that there are already homeless centers around the United States, but I believe that mine would be better and more reliable. Offering all the needs a person would require would help change our community, our country, our world into a more robust and secure place.


Summer 2016 Winner – Elementary School Level
Prompt: Describe your most awesome experience involving nature.

Hit the Grandma! 
Katelyn C., 5th grade

As the sun failed to poke out of the overcast sky, my family and I paddled across the still as a stone, but bitter cold American River. Back in 1848, a carpenter named James Marshall discovered a few shiny gold flakes when building a mill in the American River for John Sutter, a businessman. This tiny little incident led to one of the greatest population growths in California, just in the American River. Now, the American River is used as a place to kayak, swim, and go river rafting. A perfectly peaceful “rapid‐full” river turned out to be a day of “water wars.”

The “war” started off with the green rafts chained up onto the dock during our lunch break. “AAGGHH! EEWWW!” another female guide hollered, “that awfully mean manager put mayonnaise on my raft.” The guide, who got in a terribly bad mood, allowed her raft to “attack us with water” during the parts of the river without rapids. Her raft, the one with mayonnaise squirted all over, was what we called the “pirate ship” because one elderly man kept launching awfully large portions of water at us‐‐we were certified enemies already. The other green raft, one that was river rafting following our path, was okay from our perspective at the beginning, so it was our half‐enemy.

After a short half‐hour of rafting through tiny level‐2 rapids and smooth pools, my uncle whispered, “The pirates are coming, get ready to attack.” Back before lunch for nearly an hour, my dad and my uncle had spent time to get in shape. The “pirate” had already got us drenched, especially my grandma. Everyone was ready for revenge, so we spent lots of time practicing, one shot after another. “We’ll get ‘em next time, your practice will pay off,” Alex, our guide assured us before lunch.

Out of the blue, the other two green boats seemed to appear by the speed of light. Our half‐enemy raft soon chanted, “Hit the grandma! Hit the grandma!! HIT THE GRANDMA! HIT THE GRANDMA!! HIT THE GRANDMA! . . . .” as they shot “water bombs” aiming directly at my shivering grandma. Suddenly, a middle‐aged man used all his power to launch himself on our urethane raft. When he was halfway midair to our raft, my uncle stuck out his paddle and pushed him back into the snow‐melt water. “SPLASH!” he fell in as the “Hit the grandma!” died away. That left us laughing hysterically for the next ten minutes.

To finalize our not only exhilarating, but also tiring fight, our boat decided to drench the elderly man because we didn’t have a chance to yet. Behind his back, my uncle splashed approximately five times the amount he splashed us simultaneously. As planned to be an adventurous day of rafting through rapids like “Troublemaker”, “Chili Bowl”, and “Meatgrinder,” my family and I had a rather wild and awesome day involving nature.


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