Rotary Club’s annual high school poetry and short story contest winners announced

High School students who received honors for their short stories and poems hold their certificates at a Rotary meeting on April 26. Pictured are Rotarian Marcy Woodland, left to right, Amber Vincze, Nora Simon, Ashley Leidal, Bethany McConnell, Sienna Sussman, Samantha Myers, Keira Thorsteinson, Lilana Wiethake and Summit Daily News Publisher Nicole Miller.
Courtesy photo

The Rotary Club of Summit County has announced the winners of its annual high school short story and poetry contests, which are designed to encourage creative literacy among students. Winners received their award certificates and prize money at a Rotary meeting on April 26.

The winners were as follows:


  • First place: “One Day in the Future” by Keira Thorsteinson
  • Second place: “Good Old Days” by Liliana Wiethake
  • Third place: Five-way tie between “Department Store Days” by Samantha Myers; “My Grandparents’ House” by Lauren Quinn; “The words I Wish I Said” by Sienna Sussman; “Loneliness” by Bethany McConnell; “Appreciation for It All” by Ambur Vincze

Short Stories

  • First Place: “The Difference Between Falling and Flying” by Samantha Myers
  • Second Place: “Unfortunate Circumstances” by Ashley Leidal
  • Third Place: “Nakomies Firecurse” by Nora-Noemi Simon

The winning poems and short stories approved for publication are reprinted below.


The sky

Heavy with its tears


And drowns out mine

Walking home


My only friend

My worst enemy

The only thing that won’t leave me

The only thing I can’t get rid of

Hiding in plain sight

But no one sees me

I scream

But no one hears me

My thoughts race

My palms sweat

Desperate for friends

But don’t want any

Surrounded by people

But loneliness still creeps up

They say misery loves company

But that’s not true

My misery wants to be alone

But wants people to care

My loneliness hides behind me

It won’t show itself

No one can tell

My loneliness won’t leave me alone

— Bethany McConnell

“One Day In The Future”

~The Morning~

Wake up with sun covering the white

Apartment and a soft breeze floating

Along my neck and forearms, pleasantly

Bringing chills down my spine.

Succulent strings of emerald green pearls

Spill out of their pots around the room.

A smoothie of kale, kiwi, and honey,

Sweetness of spinach and granny smith.

Crisp morning air with soft scents

Of roses and buffalograss,

My corgi is asleep at my feet. Breathing

In and out.

Self-improvement rising in my thoughts,

Rubber and metal weights bringing calluses to my hands,

Sweat dripping down my neck and back

As a teardrop would. Weights colliding

Like a sound of bitter bells,

Empowering music, my muscles burn

With a sensation of fire.

~The Job~

Hair pulled into a sleek high ponytail,

As the hairband snaps back on my finger,

Silk lavender pants with a white blouse,

Nude-colored high heels.

Gold jewelry falling over my collarbone.

The office windows overlook Central Park,

My desk basked in sunlight, glowing.

Perfumes and creams, samples enveloped

Through the building, excited workers

With broad smiles rimming their faces.

The smell of black coffee lingering,

People hard at work, expressing ideas back

And forth.

~Home – Coming~

Door handle turns and clicks,

Shoes removed one foot at a time,

Clothes changed with a sigh and

A smile rises upon the face. The day is

Slowing and it is time to relax,

Aromas filling the room,

The tomatoes and garlic hit the pan

With a sizzle,

Wine poured from the bottle as it splashes

Along the edges of the crystal clear glass

Like waves crashing on rocks,

Colors of amber, marigold, and magenta fill the sky.

The day comes to an end.

— Keira Thorsteinson

“My Grandparents’ House”

Being here, in my grandparents house, reminds me of a far younger self

Of a near child who felt too old for her body

But was, in truth, so incredibly young

Who was too young to feel the weight of an identity she never requested

And too innocent to undergo the kind of heartbreak she would soon see

Now, I am here, and I know what is to come for that girl

I know that her first relationship will be more secret pain than love

And that in her second she will be afraid to give herself away

For reasons she can’t find, but so desperately longs for

I know that she will traverse a year that can only be described as impossible

And that she will survive despite the scars that suggest she shouldn’t

Mostly, I know that she will never again be at home in her family

But, in this moment at my grandparents house,

Watching my grandfather take secret candids of my family as they cook

She will, of course, feel a deep and resilient love

— Lauren Quinn

“Appreciation for It All”

I want to do all the things

But with such little time.

I want to find a person who pulls on my heartstrings

and travel to see European sunsets at their prime.

I want to live without crises

but I’m constricted by time.

Assignments on top of a personal life

and three jobs to fulfill needs;

as my life fills with pain and strife

my issues sprout like a weed

When it may be difficult or even impossible

And the desire increases to end it all

when the bridge to my goals seems uncrossable

I appreciate it still, because I’m in for the long haul

The bundle of tears that wait to fall from my waterline

must wait their turn

I pass the moment by simply saying, “I’m fine”

and continue despite my concern

As I continue through my day

I hope to only survive

wishing for a moment where I feel okay

Now, my desire increases to thrive

I may step outside and see the gorgeous landscape.

The sun creeps from behind the mountains

and the sky creates an escape

I stroll through the park to sit by the fountains

As I sit watching the oh, so satisfying, water

I think of how amazing it seems, until later;

Later I have work and responsibilities to ponder

but I try to keep focused and appreciate it all

A stranger compliments my complexion

and I forget about those bitter insecurities.

Still far from perfection,

but I love myself despite any impurities

I finally feel as if I can breathe

No longer constricted to the standards.

My effort and drive helps me see

That it’s possible to be happy.

I’m here to appreciate it all.

— Ambur Vincze

“Good Old Days”

I wish I could go back to the good old days

With sun kissed faces

And not a care in the world

With dirty hands

And wonder struck eyes

With good night’s rests

And fairy-tale dreams

With banged up knees

And cool stories everyone wanted to hear

With missing teeth

And the excitement of the tooth fairy

With tangled up hair and no reason to brush it

With happy smiles

And long giggles and laughs

With pure kind hearts

And nothing to break them

With beautiful little minds thinking about all that’s good

And wow, how I wish I could go back to those good old days

— Liliana Wiethake

“The Words I Wish I Said”

Every time I think of you

I imagine the words I wish I said,

the words before you left me

To feel unsafe in my own head.

I wish I said I loved you,

even if it would hurt me.

I wish I said you make me nervous

and yet make me feel so free.

I wish I said you make everything seem right,

That I think about you at least every night.

I wish I said a million things but I never did,

most of all I wish I made you happy

enough for you to want to live.

— Sienna Sussman

“Department Store Days”

I may not be a lady now

But I was born a lady then,

And I am sorry that my youth was wrapped in pink ribbon and bow.

I’m sorry I came in the wrong packaging.

I know I will never meet your department store standards,

your cardboard cutouts.

And I’m sorry you will never see the young gentleman I have always aspired to be,

always have been.

I’m sorry you confuse my pricing for worthless

Because I am more expensive than anything in your department

I am sorry I will never be good enough to earn a place on your perfectly polished shelves.

I am not sorry enough to change

As I know there are people out there who would never put me on a shelf much less the wrong one.

There are people out there who will cherish me and place me in their homes amongst their most beloved objects.

and I will never collect the dust that flows through your stores.

They will cradle me in their arms and

Help me fix myself when I am broken instead of discarding me at the first sign of weakness.

I will be loved more than anything your empty miles of storage could provide me.

I refuse to sit on your shelves masquerading in a skin I do not know how to wear.

I will take myself out of my box and flourish in the sun outside your artificial lights.

And like the wind you may never see me again but you will remember my presence

as I stand in the glow of the morning light and my reach soars beyond what you could ever imagine from the parking lot of your dying department store.

and I know you will not join me but when you fall and shatter on the ground

remember I may be the only one to reach out my hand before your descent can make its final bow.

you may not know the products you hold now but do not blame us for coming out of the box damaged when you are the ones who made us in the first place.

— Samantha Myers

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