Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 McCall Digest High School Writing Contest! Entries were judged on theme – The Obstacle is the Path – as well as expression and content. Thank you to all of the students who participated and the teachers who encouraged them (especially Devon Barker-Hicks and Joe Johnson of Meadows Valley School District). Thanks also to Barbara Thiele and Susan Tasaki who helped with judging, Debi Payne for the use of her artwork in promoting the contest, the Payette Lakes Progressive Club for providing the prize money, and the GIG/Kit Worthington Foundation for the Arts for funds for posters.

We have some talented writers in our local schools. Keep writing!


First Place: The Race of Life, by Alison Brusso, age 17, senior Meadows Valley High School ($100)

Life is like a race

Everyone running on their own path

No path is the same

But there’s one thing that every path has in common

The bumps and the rocks

The obstacles in the road

Everyone has trials and troubles

Everyone is affected differently

Some complain and give up the race

Others try but then they fall

They refuse to keep going

They refuse to get back up

But others see things differently

They realize that the obstacle is the path

They know that their trials are what make them who they are

So even though they get discouraged and slow down they keep going

They take it one step at a time

When they finally make it they look back and realize that

The end was just around the corner

They are glad they kept going and pushed through

The same goes for you

You can make it

You just have to pick yourself up and keep going

 Take it one step at a time you won’t regret it

We can’t wait to see you at the finish line

Second Place: JT, Let Me Be, by Amy Matthews, age 17, Meadows Valley High School ($25)

JT, Let Me Be

No longer do I wish to

rewind time to be with you.

No longer will I dread

when you run through my head.

Many lessons I have learned,

time wasted I have yearned.

The pain I have felt

left on my heart a welt.

I now know that we

were simply not meant to be.

I want you to know you didn’t break me,

and that this is only the beginning.

Third Place: A Quick Summation of Life and Stuff by Liliana Krigbaum-Horn, age 15, freshman, Meadows Valley High School ($25)

A Quick Summation of Life and Stuff

Nonsensical experiences with little to no meaning, yet all of the meaning in the world –

All of these things have compiled, turned into something jumbled, finally unfurled –

When there is no one thing to focus on, I am forced to look at everything,

There is no singular sound, there is no one way that it will ring.

Words dance around on the page –

Like performers on a stage,

But not one of them can summarize what I’ve felt, what I’ve seen,

None of them can perfectly describe the way these years have been.


I’ve felt, I’ve learned –

I’ve crashed, I’ve burned,

But in the end, I can’t put it into words –

These things have flown away, turning into now free, miraculous birds.

Fourth Place: Save the Day by Alex Shepherd, age 16, Sophomore, Meadows Valley High School ($25)

A feeling we get when we’re happy

It’s an amazing feeling to feel

When we’re real happy

That one day

You go to school

You get bullied

And banned from school

You go home

You get a knife

You end it all

And say goodnight

You wake up

On a bed

People around you

Say you’re dead


There’s a way

You just gotta pray

And ask for help

To save the day

Fifth Place: Thinking (and other unpleasant things) by Liliana Krigbaum-Horn, age 15, freshman, Meadows Valley High School ($25)

Thinking (and other unpleasant things)

These strange thoughts will never stop, they persist

When we try to push them away, remove them

They still never cease, they always exist

We think there’s a root cause, some kind of stem-


These thoughts can be about scary things, things like the end

They’re about pain and pleasure, about the undefined

The kinds of things we talk about in late night messages, the ones we’ll never send

Those strange little ideas, the ones thrown out or left behind-


Thoughts like this are the ones we don’t like, the ones we block

Thoughts like this are the ones we keep to ourselves, forever internal

Thoughts like this eat away at us every moment, ticking away at our clock

Thoughts like this stay with us forever, they are eternal-


We carry out our daily lives normally, keep these thoughts aside

But when we’re all alone they return, in our minds they’ll always reside.


First Place: Amy Matthews, age 17, senior, Meadows Valley High School ($100)

I remember sitting there with him in silent understanding, a thousand words were said without a single voice. He was leaned back in his roller chair with his knees tucked towards his chest and looking at his thumbs as they twirled around each other slowly, he reminded me of a small child, innocent. I knew he was thinking, but I didn’t know what of. I was sitting on his bed with my legs crossed and I was watching him steadily, tears forming in my eyes once more, like the river we used to go to after school every day. I wiped them away as quietly as I could, but as soon as he heard me do so he looked back at me with a sorrowful face. His lip curled into the smallest smile, trying to reassure me, then turned back to flip the screen of his laptop up to open a Breaking Benjamin album, our favorite. He had introduced them to me about a year earlier when we were first forming our friendship, he was quieter then. A few seconds later the silence was broken by the first few notes of “Breath.” He leaned back in his chair for a few seconds then came to sit softly next to me. His arm reached around my shoulder and I leaned over to lay my head on his shoulder, like we had many times when this happened, as soon as I did so, he pulled me closer for a long comforting hug, his hugs were the best, beyond heavenly. He rested his chin on my shoulder and I silently cried into his. One of his hands caressed my back and the other grabbed my hand telling me that everything would be alright.

We stayed like that for a while. He let me cry into his shoulder as he comforted me, giving my hand a little squeeze every now and then. A few songs passed, and he sang quietly to every single one of them with his soft voice, he really did have a great voice. A few years in choir together definitely helped. He picked his head up off my shoulder and I did the same. He looked straight into my eyes with his and told me that he was here for me while wiping away my tears. He didn’t say it, but I knew he loved me with everything. I always knew I loved him, since the day we met. Those brown eyes and that floppy black hair pulled me into a raging storm that would go on forever.

When the songs started to repeat, he got up once more and changed the albums. “Angels Fall” started to play and he glanced at me while humming the intro, he laid down next to me and pulled me closer and wrapped his arms around me again. “I didn’t like him anyways. You know I would never hurt you the way he did, I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone, especially not you,” he said in a soft clear whisper. He was talking about my boyfriend of a little over 9 months, they were best friends. We had all been best friends. I don’t remember what happened. I waited a moment before speaking, “I know. Thanks,” was all that would escape my mouth, the lump in my throat didn’t dare let me say anything else, it was almost like a gag, getting pushed deeper down my airway. I wanted so bad to tell him I loved him, I wanted to say so much more than just a simple ‘thank you’ but I couldn’t bring myself to it, I couldn’t find the courage. After that, the room was silent except for the music, once again he began singing along with the lyrics softly. Out of nowhere I heard myself, “You know you’ve always had an amazing voice.” He lifted my head off of his chest and tilted my chin up so he could look into my eyes, his were so understanding, comforting; his lips were curled into a small smile. He took his hand off of my chin and I laid my head back on his chest softly.

We laid there, not speaking. Only surrounded by good music and the sound of our soft breaths. I listened to his heartbeat for an eternity, almost mesmerized by the rhythm. The beats were strong and deep, when I thought about it, I realized how happy I was that I could hear his heartbeat. I was happy he was alive, though he’d tried countless times not to be, he tried countless times to stop this heartbeat, but I wouldn’t let him. All those pills, all those mixed drinks from the past, they were worth nothing. I was there for him whenever he needed me to be, because I loved him. He was my best friend, like my brother, but not by blood. In those moments we laid there, I realized how happy I was to have someone like him, luckier than a leprechaun on St. Patrick’s Day. I realized how much I loved him more than anybody I had ever loved. I may have been young, but I remember feeling something about him that I have never felt with anybody else, he makes me feel like home is a person. They say when you’re in love, you just know, well I knew.

I remember that day almost perfectly, I look back on it almost every day, and I wish I could go back and relive it forever, or at least one more time. I miss his company, his presence, his arms around me, like a boa constrictor. I miss listening to his heartbeat. I still love him, more than anything. Though we rarely talk anymore, I know he’ll always be my best friend, and I know he’ll be there whenever I need him. I just wish I could need him now like I did back then.

Second Place: Caleb Bannon, age 14, freshman, Cascade Jr/Sr High School ($25)

My Visit to Yellowstone National Park

I am at Yellowstone National Park going into the bighorn sheep habitat. I see a lot of trees, geysers, and animals when I enter the park. I hear annoying birds chirping and bugles of elk off in the distance halfway between Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Spring. I can hear Old Faithful erupting, and it is kind of quiet because we’re not that close. I can smell sulfer from the Grand Prismatic Spring, which smells like rotten eggs, and a faint smell of moss and mushrooms when the breeze picks up. I am studying botany along with the bighorn sheep country so I can hunt them in the future.

One of the first animals I saw was a bison. You usually see hundreds of bison in a herd, and if the bison get attacked, the adults will surround the calves so they could be safe. An adult male bison can weigh as much as 2,000 pounds or a ton. They swing their shaggy heads back and forth so they can reach the grass underneath the snow in the winter. I have learned how to approach a bison they can be dangerous. They can grow up to six feet at their shoulder and run up to 30 mph. More visitors get hurt by bison than any other animal. I was told to stay at least 25 yards away from a bison. But I got close enough to take pictures of the bison.

I saw a bald eagle fishing, and we stopped and watched it grab a fish with its sharp talons to nurture their offspring. The bald eagle doesn’t dive into water to catch fish. It swoops and gets fish floating or swimming on the surface. Only the adult bald eagles have white feathers. It takes five years to get their white feathers. They mainly eat fish, but they also kill ducks and other animals. The bald eagle swoops down and harasses the osprey until it drops the fish. The bald eagle’s nest can be thirteen feet tall and weigh nearly a ton. I got to hold a bald eagle but I needed leather gloves. I could also take many pictures of the bald eagle.

I enjoyed the visit and learned many things about bald eagles and bison. I learned the bison can hurt more visitors than any other animal, and the bald eagle doesn’t go underwater to get fish. It gets dead floating ones or ones swimming near the surface. Next time I would want to go to Arches National Park, or Soda Springs, Idaho.

(All photos courtesy of Pexels)


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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