Several local middle and high school students recently participated in the 2018 Stories of Transformation Idaho Middle and High School Writing Challenge, sponsored by the nonprofit Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence. Their teachers – Devon Barker-Hicks at Meadows Valley and McCall-Donnelly, and Ashley Mayes at Salmon River High School – were instrumental in encouraging their students and coordinating their submissions for the writing challenge.

The students were given six themes to choose from when considering the subject of their poetry:

1.We Choose All of Us: We Choose All of Us is a (r)evolution for humanity, a time to plant and nurture the seed that reconnects us to us.

2. Belonging to Beloved Community: Building Beloved Community is a choice to recognize everyone’s inherent value.

3. Restoring Wholeness, Our Spirit and Humanity: We understand the connections between mind, body, and spirit.

4. Together We are Stronger: By repairing past and current harms in our communities, we bring new possibility to the future.

5. Living in Harmony and Abundance: We live knowing that none of us can thrive until all of us thrive.

6.Water is Life, Earth is Sacred: By reconnecting to ourselves and to our sense of place, we restore our relationship with each other and with the Earth.

A large group of student poets – several from Meadows Valley middle and high schools, one McCall-Donnelly High School student and two from Salmon River High School – traveled from New Meadows to Boise by bus to read their poems to a live audience in an atmosphere akin to a poetry slam. Two Meadows Valley middle school students – Jenna Thomas and Edwin Vargas – finished in the top ten, each receiving a prize of $100. Several other area students were awarded $25 for finishing in the top hundred. All prize winners will see their poems published in a book that will be distributed to Idaho’s secondary schools.

Here are several of the student poems. Unless otherwise noted, Devon Barker-Hicks is the student’s teacher.

Jenna Thomas reading her poetry to the audience. Photo courtesy Bob Pluckebaum/Stories of Transformation.

Dear Ancestors,

I don’t know about you

But I’m scared

I’m so scared

I’m scared for my future

I’m scared for our future

The people’s future

The Earth’s future


I just want to go back in time

I want to see how it was

I just want to understand

How did our Earth turn to be this?

I might have never known you

But please

Remember me

And please understand

That we could use your help

Jenna Thomas

Meadows Valley Middle School


Solo el amor de una madre

Solo el amor de una madre confiar cuando nadie más lo hace,

Solo el amor de una madre te cuidará cuando estés en peligro,

Solo el amor de una madre te amara cuando nadie te quiere,

Solo el amor de una madre mantendrá fuerte,

Solo el amor de una madre mantiene la comunidad unidos.

Only the love of a mother

Only the love of a mother to trust when nobody else does,

Only the love of a mother will take care of you when you are in danger,

Only the love of a mother will love you when no one loves you,

Only the love of a mother will keep strong,

Only the love of a mother keeps the community together.

Edwin Vargas

Meadows Valley Middle School


Dear Great Grandmother

Dear Great Grandmother

The world is different now

People are being judged

For who they really are

Everyone has to be the same

But why can’t we be different

Why am I forced to act a certain way

Dear Great Grandmother

We need your help

Sadie Berry


Chloe Brooks reads her poem aloud. Photo courtesy Bob Pluckebaum/Stories of Transformation.

When we stand strong

When one falls we have others to help us get back up

When one gets back up and watches another fall

Then helps the other up

When this keeps happening over and over

Then soon all of us

Will stand strong

Chloe Brooks


Secesh River. Photo: Rebecca Wallick.


Water connecting us all to the Earth

Running, snaking along the banks

Winding through canyons

Tumbling, washing down from the peaks of mountains

That stand like unwavering sentinels

Keeping watch over all of us

Water, connecting us to each other

Making us feel whole

A bond between us that

is unbreakable and everlasting

Water reminds me of her

Beautiful, calm, quiet

Dartanion Brown


Mountains in the Payette National Forest. Photo: Rebecca Wallick


In the Mountains

It’s wide and open

In the Mountains

I feel wind wisping across my body

In the Mountains

You can explore

In the Mountains

I feel whole

In the Mountains

There is beauty inside

In the Mountains

I feel love like my parents used to love me

In the Mountains

I can think

In the Mountains

I can be myself

In the Mountains

What happens, stays

Tazyrae Dischinger

Salmon River Junior High School

Ashley Mayes – Teacher


No one left behind

No one left behind

A phrase they use in the army

They say this because they are a team

They are Stronger together

So if they are stronger together then let’s

Be stronger, let’s say

We got through this

We can get through everything

Audri Green


With you

We can bond through four simple words

Together we are stronger.

What do those words mean?

They mean we can have peace

We can bond even if we don’t want to

We can look into someone’s eyes and say

You matter, without you we will be incomplete

Audri Green


Together we are!

Together we must not hate,

Together we must live,

Together we must love,

Together we must trust,

Together we are family,

Together we are friends,

Together we are life.

Ketner Haldorsen


A student reading to the audience. Photo: Devon Barker-Hicks.


Dream about a world where we are treated the same.

Read in the news where we are treated the same.

Earth would be different.

Always people will be treated the same.

Move with kindness into my new world as it is already waiting for you.

Kohl Haynes


Dear Those Before Me,

Dear The Greats,

The Grands,

Is this what you wanted for us?

We waste away

Kept serenely in the clutches of solitude

With our thoughts

Our judgments

Our lies

Our grudges

Or would you prefer us to rise together?

To stand together?

Holly Johnson



I expected hate.

I believed that you would think I was strange,

That I was a bad person

Or worse,

Less than human.

What I did not expect was




Liliana Krigbaum-Horn


Family is forever

Family is forever

Those who pass on

Live forever in you

In your heart,

Mind and


When you learn that

You will find

True peace

Family will give you




Family is forever

Nick McCarty


Dear Ancestor

Dear ancestor, from some distant time

What would you say to me if you could see me now

Would you just look in disgust, or ask how things are in mine?

Dear ancestor, what do you fear

Do you ever wonder what will happen to your family?

Which way will they go, left or right, driven by love or tears

What path you take

What you see

What you do

That will lead to me

Diesel Messenger


Mt. Rainier.

The Mountain Speaks

The mountain speaks

The mountain calls

The mountain sleeps

The mountain dreams

Underneath its rocky surface

Lies its terrible power

A fiery birth

With the urge to devour

The mountain shakes

The mountain falls

Diesel Messenger


Do Not Ignore

Do you see them on the streets

All alone

With no place to call home

They are families

Children and adults

They are struggling

While we are content

We must share the wealth

So all are happy

Do not ignore them


Delaney Ott


Payette National Forest. Photo: Rebecca Wallick.


In the forest I feel strong

I feel safe among the trees

I can express myself freely

And not worry about who sees

I can connect myself to nature

And let my worries go

There, I am free

There, I am whole

Delaney Ott



Everyone. Everyone is a strong word.

It may not seem like a powerful word,

but when it is put to thought, it means everything,

because we are stronger together,

and together we are everything.

Will Richards



All the stereotypes need to stop

All the assumptions

All the presumptions

They need to stop

Men are not superior to women

We need to stop these biased comments

And detrimental remarks

Men are strong

Women are sensitive


Men are sensitive

And women are strong

Or are we both?

Jenna Thomas


El Arbol

Desde una semilla crece un árbol.

El árbol con corazón muy grande.

Todos dicen que es feo.

Pero el sabe que es muy bonito por dentro

Con un corazón muy grande.

El comenzó a crecer y empeza a ser

mas bonito y mas bueno de lo ya era

“Se tu mismo no trates de ser

alguien mas solo por lo que te dicen

nunca cambies se tu mismo”

Leylani Vargas


Se tu mismo

Nunca trates de ser alguien mas por lo que dicen

Se tu mismo nunca cambies por los comentarios que te digan.

Solo se tu mismo nunca trates de ser alguien mas, solo se tu mismo.

Y veras lo que tienes por dentro un corazón muy grande.

Si tu eres tu mismo todos se daran cuenta de lo grandioso que eres

Be yourself

Never try to be someone else because of what they say

Be yourself never change for the comments they tell you.

Just be yourself never try to be someone else, just be yourself.

And you will see what you have inside is a very big heart.

If you are yourself everyone will realize how great you are

Leylani Vargas


When we all have what we need

There’s love

When we all have what we need

There’s hope

When we all have what we need

There’s trust

When we all have what we need


There’s forgiveness

When we all have what we need

There’s no pain

When we all have what we need

There’s strength

When we all have what we need

There’s love

Only then will we find the abundance

We find happiness

Sydney Weber


The Future You Make

Today on Monday, December 11, 2017

I think about all the things that

I’ve done or gone through

That nobody knows about

Nobody can save you from your past

But yourself

But when I’m the worst I make people feel their best

But when I’m the best I make people feel their best

Today I will be a great person

Today I will inspire people

Today be the person to inspire others

Until the end

Victoria Williams



Look around the world,

and open your eyes,

to see what is real.

Find beauty in small things taken for granted.

Embrace all colors,

of lights and darks.

Forget the differences that

separate one another,

Find peace and harmony,

And live as a whole

Jaeda Moyer

McCall-Donnelly High School

Devon Barker – Teacher


My Love Goes Out To People.

They inspire

They exist

They have importance


Want to survive

Want to be loved

Want to thrive


Gives us peace

Gives us beauty

Gives us growth


Lets us feel

Lets us think

Lets us observe


Should be valued

Should be loved

Should be respected


Needs patience

Needs joy

Needs sacrifices

Taylor Ledgerwood

Salmon River High School

Ashley Mayes – Teacher


Aspen trees. Photo: Rebecca Wallick.


If I was an aspen

Then I would grow

If I spread my roots

Then I wouldn’t be so shy

If I let my roots spread

Then I would be free

If I let my branches grow

Then I wouldn’t let people boss me around

If I let my leaves fall

Then I would be negative

If I let my roots die

Then I would have given up

Trysta Ledgerwood

Salmon River High School

Ashley Mayes – Teacher

[Cover photo courtesy of Devon Barker-Hicks.]

About the author

Rebecca Wallick

Rebecca is a freelance writer and publisher living near McCall, Idaho. A Seattle native and recovering attorney, she much prefers the quiet, slow pace, and distinct seasons of the West Central Mountains, enjoying the skiing, hiking and running opportunities provided by the nearby Payette National Forest. Rebecca is a Contributing Editor with Bark magazine, and the author of Growing Up Boeing: The Early Jet Age Through the Eyes of a Test Pilot’s Daughter (Feb 2014).

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