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  4. Grade 10: Scholastic Art & Writing Awards 2020

A talent Vitruvian

Lucrezia Brandizzi, Grade 10

Gold Key in Flash Fiction

He walked down the cobble paved streets,

As rain trickled down to his intricate beard.

He licked the fissures in his lips,

And pressed the concave scar on his index.

He straightened his spine as it let out a soft cracking noise.

 

He could taste the scent of beer on his beard,

And feel the furtive whispers around him.

He took off his black ushanka

And his grease-smoothed hair flapped in the wind.

He entered the bar marked Madigan’s.

 

As he walked through the door, the noise arose

And he could no longer hear his loud exhales.

His nostrils quivered and he knocked on the bar table.

The bartender slammed a rag and a sash on the table,

Pointing firmly at the stage.

He tightened his jaw muscle and tilted his head.

The bartender rolled his eyes and slid him a pint of beer.

He grabbed the pint and the rag leaving the sash behind.

 

He grabbed the long, light umber instrument,

And skeptically caressed it with the rag.

He untucked the bow and rubbed it against the rosin.

Then he enclosed the rosin in the cloth and dropped it in the case.

He took a sip of the beer as the white foam rested on his moustache.

 

He violently massaged the strings tightly knitted on the umber instrument.

as the people stared up at him.

It was as if they could smell the weight of his sorrows,

And taste the bittersweetness of his symphony in their drinks.

 

Each time he finished a piece he traced the scar on his index, and started a new one.

His eyes twitched as he focused on the different chords,

And his arm danced back in forth orchestrating the symphony,

His left leg was relaxed as the big instrument rested on it,

While his other leg contracted frequently along with his thoughts.

 

He imparted a sense of awe,

That stunned the people scattered around the bar each time.

His symphony fiercely graced their ears.

 

Much chatter would arise in the bar, attending his arrival,

They couldn’t define his talent yet

 they knew it was something pure, raw, natural;

Vitruvian.

Mind of November

Ilaria Chen, Grade 10

Silver Key in Poetry

Rain spills one-handed claps.

Drops fall flat onto my head.

Tears of paint drag

their plump bones

through a thicket of hair;

dig and burrow

dig and eat.

Rain, wash my brain, I plead.

 

I drink tart skies-

Chrysanthemum teeth.

Tooth-stained stomach

chokes lungs and I breathe

and cry.

Petals slit skin

and paint leaks.

Crush me like shrivelled leaves.

 

Sidewalks glossed by water-skins

gummed with smile-worthy leaves.

Feet jump on fronds

like boats of lilies in ponds.

Flipped-mirages mock

my steps and contort my vision

Shoes mid-soak.

Allow me to hear your apocalyptic glee.

 

“The sky needs to rain and mama needs to marry.”

Let her be.

 

Let me be.

Back home

Ilaria Chen, Grade 10

Silver Key in Poetry

Consanguinity: A Collection

The boy wakes up and blinks twice

under the stitched reed roof.

It is dawn and he does not feel

the duvet of his father’s warmth,

who is busy tending ducks out near the marsh.

He crawls out of the shack

and greets the petrichor

of morning dew with a crisp and delicate yawn.

 

His feet sink into the silky mud

and pop the pearl-drops of rain

one by one.

He pats down the folds on his cotton top

with his squashy hands

and scampers to his father.

 

There is no hint of blue-green

in the ample marsh.

It is layered with plump beige-black

feathers with glints of white

and tangerine beaks;

strokes by Monet.

The father is sitting cross-legged on patted-down reeds,

looking at his paddling of ducks

negotiating cordgrass blades

and scouting around for leaves and seeds.

His once-sunken cheeks

now bloomed

like the first flowers of spring.

 

The boy squats down next to his father

and looks at the dozens of ducks.

How plump they’ve grown, how free.

He cups his neck and looks up at the sky.

A flight of swallows slits the cerulean waves

and like a whiff of glitter,

trails the tail of the winds.

Eventide

Ilaria Chen, Grade 10

Silver Key in Poetry

Consanguinity: A Collection

The first cold night flows

into Rome.

Ink-stained eyes

peer into my bedroom window

searching for something,

but I don’t know what.

I pull its eyelids shut

and fumble in the dark.

My pinky toe scrapes skin

against the corner of my bed frame

and I stop. I lie

next to the muffled outline

of my sister and say

“Good night”.

She crosses her left arm

over my stomach and nods.

 

I lie in the porous dark

and count the ivory sheep.

Thousands soar by yet I

still can’t dream;

I then decide to count

the bundles of wool they left behind.

 

My vision is half-black-half-white

and my mind droops slightly,

stroked by the pulse of her heartbeat

tapping on my left arm

like a hum

of soft knocks on doors.

My nerves caress her garnet heart

and pillow its fall;

dandelions in flight.

 

The beat quickens after a handful

and I look over to see if she is well.

“Nightmares?”

I wrap my right arm over her left

and place my chin

onto her head.

Right then, we are heart to heart.

“Sleep tight”.

let the night sleep on my chest and dream

Ilaria Chen, Grade 10

Silver Key in Poetry

Consanguinity: A Collection

i.

Take my hand

and walk with me

a step left, right,

and then repeat.

Jump in, jump out,

exchange our hands

Let’s twirl and laugh-

Medieval’s beat.

 

ii.

It is dusk outside

the castle door.

The briny air sleeps

under a fresh blanket of milk-stars,

like day-old lillies

in a thin stream glittered

with blonde pomelos;

soused siesta.

 

iii.

Down the braid of cobblestone

and past the shops asleep

we hoist our joys to the stars

and feel them breathe.

I listen to a passion-dweller

recount the fragility

of the celestial lustres

with sweet articulation;

lyrical taps of teeth and tongue.

 

iv.

An old man sits in front

of the village bar

smoking a saccharine

strawberry cigar.

Behind him it is dimly lit

and his shadow is brown.

He smiles

and the smoke

leaves through the burnt slivers

between his teeth.

It swims up into the sky

and for a split second,

I see a star in his eyes.

Three hours before Midnight,

25th of February

Sofia Peng, Grade 10

Silver Key in Poetry

I

The brownish-rose porcelain tajine,

and the piping hot lid been taken off.

A smoked flavour of cooked lamb and

pepper mixed peas flutter where sight lands.

I took a deep sniff, absorbing

the local cuisine, beckoning my body

into the moroccan culture; better than

a pleasant scent of a ripe tulip. The fine meat

merges with the piece of savoury baked flatbread,

a taste of delight.

Spreading, circulating, condensing. To the deepest

steps of my tongue. Then swept away spontaneously

by a small cup of fragrant minted-green tea.

 

II

The soft finger-thumps

and the metallic spoon-beats

on the djembe,

rhythmic and patterned melodies flow.

The rough notes dance around our feet

like pieces of waving leaves

and lithe petals

twirl in peace within the beehived tent.

The chorus hums timidly,

trying hard to compose a set of harmonies

from the tip of their sweet-golden lips.

 

III

I open the silken tent. 

The city of stars envelops the immense concave desert.

I see Sirius.

Each infinitesimal bright light

clothes the profound blue-black night sky.

They blink their daisied eyes like the genuine glance

of millions of children.

Orion’s Belt lines up straight.

A shooting star slips through the sky,

after light years sweep by.

bluing

Tatiana Kneale, Grade 10

Honorable Mention in Poetry

The Beauty of Blue: A Collection

I have a friend of blue.

I don’t know what to do.

The cruel, sick veil of self-betrayal

has taken and twisted her too.

 

She’s lost it, that whimsy.

She sits now, pale and fraught.

What did I miss?

Where went the bliss?

I had thought we were happy,

Were we not?

 

Some great power has gone

and plucked the gaiety from her mind,

casting a curtain of this wretched blue

before her eyes,

which filters out all warmth

and impedes her heart

from leaping, as it once did,

at the sight of a spring’s first blossom,

or the velvet scent of a rose,

freshly picked from its bush.

 

Thoughts run wild

in the maze that is her mind,

as she fights to find her way

through narrowing paths of endless worry.

I am witness to these struggles,

against the hurricane of her own despair.

Forced to watch, as she scrambles

before a scattered array

of broken puzzle pieces,

leading her in no uncertain direction.

 

Where’s that flicker?

The glimmer, gone so long

from those two deep oceans

of her now-sunken eyes.

I would never have thought that bright blue

could ever turn so sickly and pale.

But like ink from a bottle,

it too has seeped out of our lives.

 

I had come to know it so well,

learnt to admire its capacity

to shift me from any mood,

skillfully guiding me

through the eternal darkness

of self disillusionment.

 

It seems that all lights of the world

have gone out for those eyes,

leaving me with no trace

of a path back home.

Leaving me to wonder   

why, if she is the one lost,

do I have nowhere left to turn?

 

I once knew how to hope for more,

but it now feels as though my heart

has grown too tired for such frivolities.

 

How much more would I do to help,

if I didn’t feel such a burden

weighing me down.

I know that I can help,

but that same knowledge impedes me from doing so.

I know that I will help,

but what is the use,

if I do not do so in time?

 

I know well that these questions have answers,

I have even sought to find them.

But like leaves on crisp autumn mornings,

they dance tauntingly before my eyes.

Inviting me to chase them through the streets,

to cry out with every strength of my being

for some form of response.

An explanation as to where it is that they are going,

And why I had not thought of them before.

 

Who is left,

When the last petals fall,

And you alone are responsible

for picking up the pieces?

Who is it you turn to,

when the blue seeps from her to you,

and the notion of a friend turns to a thought,

residing, oh so comfortably, up in your head,

slowly and persistently buzzing

to the empty, unending chorus,

of blue.

steady lines

Tatiana Kneale, Grade 10

Honorable Mention in Poetry

The Beauty of Blue: A Collection

I’ll sit some time for hours and hours,

with notebook, pen in hand.

Steady lines draw empty rhymes,

as colour melts unto this cotton land.

 

Abandoning these words I find

there’s something more to say,

through letters stretched and morphed and kept,

disguised to fit in this way.

 

There’s nothing in their colour form,

their shape or speed of rate.

The only steadiness I feel

is in their constant shape.

 

I don’t know why I have to so,

but drawing them do stay,

There’s safety in this discipline:

the control over their curveless state.

 

I can’t help but to carry on,

though logic fights me so.

In a world that shivers at the touch,

for these few fleeting moments,

 

I too know where to go.

China-blue residue

Tatiana Kneale, Grade 10

Honorable Mention in Poetry

The Beauty of Blue: A Collection

Blossoms of blue break out from beneath this blank soil.

Scattered on a surface of sweet porcelain,

they lie in lines of no direction,

wondrously watching this vast world before them.

 

I had observed their honest features for so many years,

delighting in their delicate musicality,

and admiring the very nature of their beauty.

But now, it seems I am witness to the dread of their destruction.

 

I cannot help but wonder how it is that they still sit so sweetly,

though they lie in splinters on the sober surface of my bedroom floor.

Blue-black brokenness presents me with a new face to their beauty.

How strange I had not noticed it before.

Fall of Mankind

Maddalena Luberti, Grade 10

Honorable Mention in Poetry

I.

Four seats a row, six rows a carriage;

All facing each other, stripped and vulnerable.

I am seated before a theatre show

Where I am both actor and spectator.

 

The next herd flocks in through automatic doors.

My lips tug at the corners as I suppress the urge

to stand up and shepherd them with a staff,

As they bleat pathetically, following on all fours.

 

The narrow panes are ajar and the draught is leaking in

Gnawing spitefully at my cheeks and stripping the air raw.

I blow into my palms and rub them together in my gloves -

The worn out threads creating uncomfortable friction against my skin.

 

The doors slide apart once again

And in slips a woman,

Wearing nothing but the intimacy of her flesh

Yet moving in such a self-collected manner.

 

I shift further to the left as the lady by my side

Has now taken up a seat and a half -

But it’s alright because she has her feet tucked beneath neatly

As not to trip anyone up.

 

II.

The figure sits down poisedly on the seat in front of me

And rests her head on the metal bar to her right,

Her bare flesh shrieking against

The indigo seats.

 

Her crown is drowned in hyacinthe locks

That tumble in ringlets against the curves of  her shoulders

And nestle in the hollow of her collarbone.

 

Her lacerated lips remain slightly parted,

Mauve and quivering in the November air,

Dimpling ever so brazenly at the corners.

She shuffles her toes and looks up -

 

I break my gaze and stare into the ground,

Embarrassed by her immaculacy.

 

The intricate map of veins on her feet are gushing rivers

That lead up her alpine calves and thighs to her chest,

Shattering her breast like a spider’s web,

Dripping down her wrist and off each slender finger.

 

Her figure tremors so,

Devoured by the cold,

But her eyes remain serene

and her smile so composed.

 

I feel so self conscious,

So fully clothed.

 

III.

I gaze around at the numb faces,

And have to stop myself from leaping up

And screaming in their faces in the vain search of a reaction

As they slump like dummies in a trance.

 

A crimson flush creeps up my neck,

Exploding in my ears

And I tug at the woollen scarf that’s constricting my breath,

Tossing it in a flurry on my lap.

 

I wonder if it would be ridiculous,

absurd,

so out of place for me to rip all my clothes off and sit there;

innately safe within my skin -

 

but I couldn’t.

 

I was sitting before the gaze of an Eve who had never met the snake;

But I had succumbed to it.

Id

Maddalena Luberti, Grade 10

Honorable Mention in Poetry

A Collection

The shrillness of his primordial lament,

Pierces the stillness of the uncorrupt mind,

Painting the blank canvas black with torment.

 

His restless soul writhes, so—

Inextricably bound to the “pleasure principle”

That incinerates his pious halo.

 

In the midst of the heart-and-mind dispute,

His pudgy fists reach out to snatch,

The alluring forbidden fruit—

 

In his eye the serpent grins

And slithers through his core, seeking shade

in the darkness of his sins.

Folie à Deux

Maddalena Luberti, Grade 10

Honorable Mention in Poetry

A Collection

A.

He wavers in the moment,

attempting in vain to grasp it

as it slips mockingly through his fingers.

His eyes glint, malicious, and a white light floods his mind,

seeping into every inch of his sallow figure.

His mind throbs as it spins and spins on this cruel merry-go-round.

Her blue gaze bores into the back of his neck

and his knuckles grow ashen as his fingers dig deep,

seeking refuge in the palm of his hands.

spiro;

expiro.

Veiled by his quivering eyelids,

images of billowed gowns and matted locks,

sprawled dolefully across the marble floor—

And a single, crimson puddle seeps out,

instantly swallowing the lingering silence.

 

B.

Words are caught in motion

As they drip, poisonous, off his lax lips

And shatter on the ground.

He still lingers in her forlorn smile

And as she drowns so serenely in the depth of the green in his eyes

She feels lost,

Helpless,

As if left standing naked

In a vast, empty room.

Her frail frame sits poised upon the seat

And her edelweiss skin,

etched with cerulean veins,

mimics the cold marble beneath her bare feet.

At every tug and every pull

 she obeys;

Amaranthinely chained to his heart.

A brief reflection on what is not

Maddalena Luberti, Grade 10

Honorable Mention in Poetry

A Collection

I recognised it as soon as it trickled down the nape of my neck

and pirouetted blindly about my shoulders.

Immense darkness appeared as the herald of every shadow cast by the devilish sun

and the sheer nothingness that fills the spaces between all that is in existence.

The air was dense and crammed itself into every inch of my cast—

displacing my breath and bones.

However, not for a mere sliver of a second did I feel unsettled

for within the damp walls of the cave,

I stood the closest I could ever be to the stranger who dwells within my red marrow walls—

from which I’d been estranged for so long.

 

In a fraction of a void,

With my lids sealed and all light swallowed whole,

I witnessed what lies in between what is.

 

Grotta Sant’Angelo, Civitella del Tronto

Blue

Natalie Silver, Grade 10

Honorable Mention in Science Fiction & Fantasy

A spark lit up the dark cavern as two stones collided near the pile of dried pine needles. A face was illuminated for a second before the flame died out. The face belonged to a young woman with tanned skin, and small light brown freckles sprinkled on her cheeks and nose. A wisp of burnt orange hair hung in a tight coil over one of her brilliant blue eyes. Another spark. This time, the flame seemed to want to stay for longer, but it wasn’t long till it was out again. More of the girl was illuminated. She was wearing a dirty light blue dress, and boots that used to keep her feet warm, but no longer did. She was wearing a jet-black cloak, tied around her neck. The cloak was the only thing keeping her warm. Kneeling on the stone cold floor, she slammed the two stones together, in one last attempt to start a fire. The nearest pine needle caught the spark, then twisted inward as the flame engulfed it, and spread. Warmth at last.

Below the cave there was a small village in the valley. The villagers rarely left the village. The only way out was over the mountains. Before, each month, twenty men would set off over the mountains to a marketplace in a nearby village in search of things that the mountains didn’t already provide them with.

Many animals lived in the surrounding mountains, and the ground was extremely fertile. One of the mountains had once been an active volcano, but its flame had long ago died out. Beautiful flowers, and the sweetest fruits and vegetables imaginable grew in these fertile lands. Underneath the tallest of the five mountains lay the greatest treasure of the town. A gold mine. The town sparkled with gold. Every building in town was encrusted with it.

Fifty or so years ago, around the time of the last trip to the outside world, a man named Abbas had brought back a flower seed. The woman who had sold it to him had called it an Azra Flower. He planted that seed, and it grew into a flower. A flower of a color he had never seen before: blue. The whole village came to see the flower, and after seeing it, they all wanted one of their own. Abbas called this new color azra, after what the woman had told him. As soon as the flower started germinating, people started coming to his door begging for seeds in exchange for anything he wanted. Soon Abbas became the richest man in town, turning the town blue.

Slightly less than 20 years ago, Abbas had a daughter. She had curly, burnt orange hair, tanned skin, freckles, and eyes the color of the flower. He named her Azra, after his flower. No one in the village had ever seen any color of eyes other than brown. Every one came to see the girl with the strange eyes, just as they had done with the flower years before.

A couple of years after Azra was born, her mother died while giving birth to twin boys. By her next birthday, her father had already married an evil woman named Jala.

Azra was beautiful, there was no doubt about it. Everyone praised her for her beauty, yet people wouldn’t dare go near her. Life at home wasn’t any better. She hated being there. Her younger siblings constantly went out of their way to make her life harder than it already was. Jala would blame anything that her own children would do wrong on Azra, and Abbas was just getting more violent with every passing day.

Azra was about 10 or 11 when her father’s violence started to trickle out into the outside world. Abbas was known as a kind man in the village, always willing to share his wealth with those who needed it. But with his family, he was selfish and violent. He would often sit alone in his room, counting his gold coins. Every once in a while Jala would intrude on his solitude to tattle on Azra. He would subsequently call for Azra, and slap her on the face, or whip her with a belt if there was one in reach. She had quickly learned where he kept his belts, and would always try to stand as far away from them as possible. The day her father’s violent side was exposed to the outside world was the day Azra first screamed for help. She walked into his room shaking with fear as always. He was standing there waiting for her, holding a belt. Just as he was about to strike her, she screamed. She had never let herself scream before. His face turned red, and he started yelling at her. People from all around the village came to see what the source of the noise was. The people surrounded the house, and peered through the windows. They saw a young girl being tormented by her father. For the first time they saw who Abbas truly was.

The next day no one in the village remembered what had happened to Azra. It was as if it never happened. Except that it had. Azra was the only one who remembered it. Azra no longer got beaten by her father, but the outside world still ignored her. Life carried on like this for a couple of years.

One morning, when Azra was almost 20, she woke up to find her father staring down at her. “What do you want from me,” she asked him, backing towards the far corner of the bed, dragging her woolen blanket with her.

“Jala is dead,'' he announced. “One of her children went to her early this morning, and found her dead.”

“What does this have to do with me?” Azra asked confused.

“Everyone thinks you did it,” he replied, “and frankly, I'm not disagreeing with them. You’re the only one in this house who disliked her.”

“But I didn’t do it!” she exclaimed.

“And who’s going to believe that?” He said as he walked out of her room, slamming the door behind him.

Everyone thought that she had committed a crime, and her father was right, no one was going to believe her if she said otherwise. She had to leave. Azra stuffed her bag with as many of her thingsas she could, put on her boots, tied her cloak around her neck, and ran. She ran away from the town, towards the mountains. She ran until she could run no more. It was almost dusk when she found a small cave to spend the night in. It was rapidly getting colder. She needed a fire.

Once the fire had been built, she looked over the cliff at the village beneath her. It truly was beautiful. The gold and blue of the rooftops sparkled in the moonlight, sending specks of light around to every mountain, mimicking the stars.

The stars were a whole other sight. Azra had never realized the immensity of the night sky before. Normally when looking up at the sky from the village the only things visible were the bright golden rooftops. Now when she looked up, she saw sparkling dots, high up in the sky. She had no clue that the world could look like this.

That night, she couldn’t sleep. She didn't know if it was the bitter cold that was keeping her up, or the thoughts roiling around inside her head. She had so many questions. Who killed Jala? Why would they want to kill her? Why did everyone suddenly suspected her? She lay awake thinking. The killer had to be someone living in her house, that was for sure. There was no way to get in without the golden key that hung from her father's belt at all times. None of Jala’s children would have done it. They were all too little. There was no way that Jala had killed herself. She was selfish, just like Abbas. She only cared about her wellbeing. That and making Azra’s life horrible. The only other person living in her house was her father. “Of course!” No one would have ever suspected it. The only one who knew how he truly felt about Jala was Azra. He hated her. He hated her just as Azra had hated her. But Jala had given him an excuse to hurt Azra, so he kept her around. The rest of the village just thought he was a loving husband and father. They still believed those lies even after what they had seen all those years ago. How was that possible? Now Azra knew that her father was the killer, and that something was manipulating the village.

When Azra finally fell asleep, she had a dream. The most vivid dream she had ever had. It was of her father when he was a young boy, about the age she was now. He was standing in front of a stand of seeds, in an obscure marketplace. There was an old woman standing behind the stand. She had the same blue eyes that Azra had. The old woman picked up one of her seeds and handed it to Abbas. “An Azra flower seed” she said, as she handed the seed over. “ Plant it, and you will get what you want most.”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“Wouldn't you want to be able to control everyone?’

“Yes.”

“Then do as I say. Plant this seed once you get back to your town. Anyone near it will think what you want them to think, and believe what you want them to believe. Plant as many as you can, surrounding the whole village.” The boy stood there for a moment with his mouth open in amazement.

“Is there any way for me to lose the power?” Abbas asked.

“Yes. If you die, or if all the flowers are destroyed, the power will be lost.” She paused for a second while Abbas reflected on what she just said. “There are some people who are immune to the control of the flower.” That caught the boy’s attention.

“Who?” he asked anxiously.

“Anyone with eyes the color of the flower,” she replied. “ So do you want it?”

Suddenly Azra was awake. The sun was just coming over the opposite mountain. She looked over the cliff. Rows and rows of blue flowers encircled the town. There were at least a couple hundred on each mountain. There was no way to get rid of them without doing irreparable damage. She could kill him…

No. There must be another way. She was immune. How? There must be a reason? Was it something to do with her mother? She searched her mind for memories of her mother. She could barely picture her anymore. Finally she found a memory. The last time she saw her mother before she died. Her mother's name was Nadia. The two of them were out in the field of Azra flowers. Azra was spinning in circles around her mother, who was heavily pregnant. Nadia’s straight hair was blowing in the wind. She smiled lovingly at her daughter. Azra saw the smile; it distracted her from her spinning. Suddenly she lost her balance and fell into her mother's lap. The two erupted in laughter. Azra picked a flower and gave it to her mother. Nadia took it, and kissed it. Azra laughed. “Eat it!” Azra said in between bursts of laughter. Nadia delicately plucked a petal of the flower, put it in her mouth, then swallowed.

“Delicious!” Nadia exclaimed. Azra laughed again.

All of a sudden Nadia bent over in pain. “What happened,” asked Azra, terrified. Her mother looked up and smiled.

“You are going to be a big sister,” she replied. “Now, help me up.” Azra did as she was told, but something didn’t seem right. Something was different about her mother, but she couldn’t figure out what it was.

Azra brought herself back to reality. She was back in the cave, alone again, but now she knew what was different. When her mother had looked up at Azra, her eyes were a different color. They weren’t hazel anymore, they were blue.

Down in the town, everyone was searching for the girl with the blue eyes. They didn’t know why, but they were doing it anyway. Usually they tried to stay as far away from her as possible. No one knew why they did that either. Suddenly there was a voice in their heads. “Once she has been found, and captured, there will be a feast. Everybody will be invited. Finally we will be rid of evil in this town.”

The search continued as Azra left her cave, and descended towards the city, picking flowers as she went. When she was halfway down the mountain, she saw villagers holding pitchforks and other weapons. They were looking for her. The rest of her way down, she was on her hands and knees. Finally, she had reached the entrance to the town. It had taken her longer than she had expected. All she needed to do now was find a source of food or drink to put the flowers in. Something that everyone would eat or drink eventually.

Water.

The town’s water supply came from a river down one of the mountains. There was a large pipe system underground that brought it to every house. She had to somehow get to the river without being seen. The river just so happened to be on the complete opposite side of the village. The fastest way would be through the village. That would be impossible… But what if she went over the village. The buildings were close enough to each other, so getting across wouldn’t be that difficult. She just had to make sure no one could see her, but who looked up anyways.

She climbed up the wall, and jumped onto the first roof. The gold was scorching. It burned her hand. She would have blisters after this. She made her way over to the other side of the roof, then leaped. Pain surged through her body every time she landed. She was about half way across the town when the first person spotted her. A young woman was sitting in the shade taking a break from the heat. The woman had looked up for barely a second when she saw a young girl leaping from roof to roof. She saw the girl, and recognized her immediately. The young woman hesitated for a second as two voices fought against each other in her head, until one of them one, and she called out. “She’s here!”

People were now coming for Azra, but she didn’t care. She had to get these flowers to the river. She leaped onto the last rooftop, climbed down its side, then ran to the river as fast as she could. She dumped all the flowers she was holding into the river, then frantically grabbed as many more as she could around her, and threw them in as well.

The noise of the stampede was growing louder. There was no way she could escape it. She stuffed the last flowers in her reach into her dress pockets just as the mob arrived. In an instant she was knocked out cold.

She woke up in a cage. The sun light was blinding. She looked around. Her cage was in a large grassy field. There were long tables all around her, filled with heaps of food. Every person in the village seemed to be there, celebrating. Even her father. They were celebrating her capture, and soon her death. She leaned against the bars of the cage, and stuck her hands in her pockets, and found the flowers. Something gurgled. It was a pot of soup, large enough to feed the whole town. She looked around to make sure no one was looking. No one had even realized that she had woken up. She took the flowers out of her pockets, and carefully threw them into the boiling pot of soup. It was only a matter of time before the soup would be eaten.

Finally someone realized that she was awake. It was her father. “Azra.” His voice boomed loudly. “Your reign of terror on this town is over, we have captured you. You killed Jala, murdered her in her sleep. The punishment for murder is your life. Any last words?”

“Here's an idea,” she said. “Why don’t you be civilized for once, and finish your meal before you have at me. I believe there is still a humongous pot of soup waiting to be eaten.”

“Fine, the killing will happen after the feast is done!” Everybody cheered. Bowls of soup were dished out, and passed to everyone. Once everyone had received a bowl, Abbas announced that they could start eating. They picked up their spoons, put the soup in their mouths, and then swallowed. Nothing happened.

Suddenly someone screamed in pain. It was the young woman Azra had seen before. Once the pain had passed, she looked up. Her eyes were blue. It had worked. And all of a sudden everyone was in pain, and then everybody’s eyes were blue. They were free.

They all turned towards Abbas. His eyes were blue now too. A sea of blue eyes stared at him. He stood there confused for a second, before realizing what had happened. He had lost his power. He ran as far and as fast as he could, never to be seen again.

The townspeople dropped whatever they were holding, and hugged the nearest person in sight. For the first time in fifty years they were free to have their own thoughts. Azra had done it. She had saved her people, and for the first time in what felt like forever, she smiled.

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Environment After CoVid 19
Chapter 1: The World Around Us

Opinion: A New Perspective on the Environment After CoVid-19

There are ducks in the Barcaccia, dolphins inquisitively approaching Italian harbors and weeds colonizing urban spaces where human feet no longer tread: nature reconquering lost spaces is one of the short-term effects of this pandemic.

By Jan Claus Di Blasio, Gardens and Sustainability Coordinator

Some Notes from Isolation1
Chapter 1: The World Around Us

Some Notes from Isolation

Who else has begun to think of their lives as divided into the BC (Before Covid) and DC (During Covid) eras? Oh, those simple things we took for granted: catching some fresh air during a short afternoon walk in the park. Having a coffee at the corner bar. A long, leisurely weekend lunch with a friend. A spontaneous decision to go and see a movie. For that matter, a spontaneous decision merely to go and pick up milk and laundry soap at the grocery store.

By Moira Egan - Creative Writing Teacher
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Chapter 1: The World Around Us

I’m 15 and Quarantined in Italy—You’d Be Surprised What I Miss

I was in Latin class when the Italian government announced the closure of schools two months ago.

By Anthony Avallone '23
romance corona
Chapter 1: The World Around Us

Romance in the Time of Coronavirus

Right-wing populists are romantics. I know; that sounds strange. You probably imagine romantics staring out over misty moors, their hair blowing at an attractive angle, but make no mistake—Orban, Trump, Bolsonaro, Salvini, Le Pen? They’re romantics too.

By Jen Hollis - Former St. Stephen’s IB History Teacher
virus school 4
Chapter 1: The World Around Us

How a Virus Interrupted the Daily Routine at a Day and Boarding School

On Thursday, March 5th 2020, an unusual silence settled into the hallways, classrooms, and dorm rooms of St. Stephen’s School.

By Natalie Edwards '14 - RA and Dean's Office Assistant
poetry
Chapter 2: Creative Writing

Winners of the Keats-Shelley House Poetry Contest

In May, two St. Stephen’s students, Leila El-Zabri and Isabella Todini, won both of the prizes in the Upper School category of the Keats-Shelley Poetry Contest. This year’s judge was Jackie Kay, award-winning poet, author, and the current Scots Makar (the Scottish Poet Laureate). Ms. Kay was extremely impressed with the technical facility and emotional depth of our students’ work.

By Moira Egan - Creative Writing Teacher
creative writing
Chapter 2: Creative Writing

Creative Writing

Ms. Egan is proud to present work that has been done in her Creative Writing Classes in the Fall and Spring Semesters. Enjoy!

red dragon
Chapter 2: Creative Writing

Children of the Red Dragon

By Ilaria Chen, Grade 10
red riding hood
Chapter 2: Creative Writing

The Golden Children

By Sofia Ghilas '21
Norcia3
Chapter 4: Fall Trips 2019

Fall School Trips 2019

Welcome to our interactive Fall trips 2019 photo galleries. Click the albums for a visual journey through our adventures!

hopkins
Chapter 3: Short Stories in Italian | Italian language

Viaggio intorno alle nostre camere

By Rossano Astremo - IB Italian Teacher
trips 2020 cover
Chapter 4: Fall Trips 2019

Why We Take School Trips

When students enter St. Stephen’s as 9th graders, they will attend eight trips in the course of their career. Trips are an integral part of our identity, and one of the most frequently cited distinctions when Head of School Eric Mayer speaks with parents and students.

By Cortile Staff Writer
class4
Chapter 5: Departments | Molecular Genetics

Molecular Genetics, a Flagship Program

The Molecular Genetics program at St. Stephen's was introduced in 2018 in partnership with Adamas Scienze as a five-year initiative. Adamas Scienze is part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Monterotondo, Italy that specializes in bringing university-level science to high school students.

By Fiona Leckie - Science Department Chair, Chemistry Teacher
five senses 2
Chapter 5: Departments | Classics, The Lyceum

An Archaeology for the Five Senses: A Lyceum Evening

On Monday evening, a group of students, teachers, alumni, and friends of St. Stephen’s gathered in the library to explore the sights, sounds, and, most importantly, the smells of Ancient Roman cities with Ann Kolosky-Ostrow, a Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Brandeis and recent Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Rome.

By Natalie Edwards '14 - RA and Dean's Office Assistant
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Chapter 5: Departments | International Baccalaureate (IB)

The Benefits of an IB Education

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is well respected and globally recognized as a very intensive, yet highly rewarding academic programme which is offered in high schools, like St. Stephen's. If you wish to pursue higher education in Europe, such as in the UK, Germany, or Finland, then the IB will be incredibly beneficial towards taking your first steps into university.

By David Rosales '16
city of rome
Chapter 5: Departments | Classics

Discovering Our City with the City of Rome Class

One of St. Stephen’s’ signature courses, Roman Topography, got an upgrade this year. The new course is called City of Rome. In the past, students were required to take either Roman Topography or Latin 1. Beginning in Fall 2019, all ninth graders take City of Rome and choose between three classical languages: Latin, Classical Greek, or Arabic.

By Natalie Edwards '14 - RA and Dean's Office Assistant
cortile sofia peng
Chapter 6: Student Life | Student Ambassador Program

Hi, I'm Sofia Peng, and I am a Student Ambassador!

I think that being a Student Ambassador made me grow so much. As a student, I concentrated mainly on my academics, yet I was never a talkative and outgoing person at school because I thought I wasn't a fluent English speaker. As it is not my first language, I have never really managed to speak comfortably around people other than my friends without feeling nervous about being judged. I always had a hard time dealing with my self-esteem and I doubted myself.

By Sofia Peng '22
lab1
Chapter 6: Student Life | Students Love Tech!

The iLab is the Place to Be at St. Stephen’s!

I think it would be safe to say that the Innovation Lab, the ILab for short, is my favorite place in the entire school. It allows for anyone with an interest in tech, design, or anything similar to enjoy themselves while also learning at the same time and pushing themselves beyond what they thought they were going to be able to do, ever.

By Valerio Pepe '22
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Chapter 6: Student Life | Students Love Tech!, Formula 1

Life in the Fast Lane

When you think of Formula 1, you probably don’t think of engineering, aerodynamics, economics, marketing, and design yet these are just a few of the components that go into building the sleek race cars that characterize the sport.

By Natalie Edwards '14 - RA and Dean's Office Assistant
cortile smalling
Chapter 6: Student Life | Student Clubs, Chris Smalling

Tackling Inequality

AS Roma defender and Manchester United legend Chris Smalling was invited to talk to students of St. Stephen's School about equality in sports, his vegan diet, and, of course, football, on 2 December 2019.

By Laith Zehni '20
writing awards
Chapter 7: Scholastic Writing Awards

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, 2020

Again this year, St. Stephen’s Creative Writing teacher Moira Egan is delighted to present the work of her students, who achieved wonderful success in the Scholastic Art & Writing Competition for 2020. This year, students in Grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 garnered 10 Honorable Mentions, 6 Silver Keys, and 2 Gold Keys.

By Moira Egan - Creative Writing Teacher
Grade 9 award
Chapter 7: Scholastic Writing Awards

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards 2020

By Moira Egan - Creative Writing Teacher
Grade 10 award
Chapter 7: Scholastic Writing Awards

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards 2020

By Moira Egan - Creative Writing Teacher
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Chapter 7: Scholastic Writing Awards

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards 2020

By Moira Egan - Creative Writing Teacher
winter arts show3
Chapter 8: The Arts

Winter Arts Show

Enjoy a visual showcase of our Winter Arts Show highlights.

By Luigi Fraboni - Photography Studio
cortile regenerative medicine 2
Chapter 9: Alumni | Alumni Spotlight

The Next Frontier in Health Care: A Review in Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative medicine (RM) is an emerging and very exiting multidisciplinary field aimed at restoring, maintaining or enhancing tissue and, consequently, organ functions.

By David Rosales '16
Wahiba Sands
Chapter 9: Alumni | Alumni & Friends, Health & Wellness

Alumni & Friends in Oman

Our fearless leader Dr Helen Pope lead in October our 5th edition of Alumni & Friends Trip. A group of 10 alumni followed Dr Pope in Oman, The Land of Frankincense.

By Cortile Staff Writer
NY(5)
Chapter 9: Alumni

DC, NY & Boston Alumni Events

Images from St. Stephen's Alumni events across the North East last Fall.

Painting by Cate Whittemore 1972
Chapter 9: Alumni | Class Notes

Class Notes

Welcome to our first-ever digital 'Class Notes.' Enjoy the posts and images collated by Class Ambassadors from their respective years!