PEOPLE Amplified 2024

“This is a collection of the students from this program. A collection of what makes these PEOPLE scholars people. A story of our youth. A story about art. A story about humanity. A story about what was and what could be.”
-Alexander Alvarez

If you would like to contribute to this project, submit your creative works to

If you would like to see our PEOPLE Amplified project from 2020, click here.

“In the heart of a vibrant city”
by Davion Washington

In the heart of a vibrant city, under the azure sky,
Children’s laughter rings out, as kites soar high.
The scent of blooming flowers fills the bustling square,
Life is a grand celebration, joy is in the air.
But as the sun dips low, casting long shadows,
The laughter fades, replaced by silent echoes.
The square lies empty, under the moon’s cold light,
Joy gives way to melancholy in the quiet of the night.
Yet with each new dawn, hope springs anew,
The square comes alive, bathed in morning dew.
Life’s cycle continues, from sunrise to twilight,
In every ending, there’s a new beginning in sight.


“In the halls of high school”
by a PEOPLE student

In the halls of high school, friendships bloom,
Homework, exams, and a little bit of gloom.
From early morning classes to late-night cramming,
Navigating teenage life, always jamming.

Lockers filled with secrets, laughter, and dreams,
Sports, clubs, and extracurricular schemes.
Crushes, heartbreaks, and moments of doubt,
High school’s a rollercoaster, there’s no doubt.

But through it all, you’ll find your way,
Discovering passions, day by day.
Embrace the journey, enjoy the ride,
As a high schooler, you’ve got nothing to hide!

“I hold onto hope that our collective efforts will transform our workplace into one where our voices matter, our needs are acknowledged, and our labor is valued. I won’t give up.”

–Dina Al-Gburri

“…decisions keep on changing the outcomes in an infinite loop. Don’t you ever wonder what the alternate versions of you are doing? Don’t you wonder what would’ve happened if you took the other choice?”

–a PEOPLE student

“…I don’t care what people say I love myself for who I am because I am unique and this is myself.”

–a PEOPLE student

"The unverving silence of the forest" by Gerardo Diaz Martinez

The unnerving silence of the forest was interrupted by loud footsteps. A small, cloaked figure ran faster and faster as a massive spider-like creature pursued after it. The spider easily knocked down trees as if they were mere twigs. The cloaked figure tripped and tried to stand up but failed, noticing that a branch got stuck on its leg. Its single eye looked up at the enormous spider as it accepted its inevitable fate. It was at that moment that it realized that the spider was not chasing after it. The spider completely ignored it and continued crawling.

The cloaked figure sighed in relief and layed on the cold, snowy floor. The cloaked figure got the branch out of its leg and walked home. The figure locked itself in its small, hidden bunker and took off its cloak. Beneath the cloak was a rusty and asymmetrical robot. “Hello, plant” the robot said to its only friend. “How are you today?” the robot asked expecting an answer, however, the plant did not respond. “Oh, right. I forgot you were shy”.

The little robot sat down and began to think. “Will the world ever be normal again? Probably not, but I still got you, plant”. The plant did not respond. “I am scared sometimes, but I know that someday I’ll see my creator again, right?”

The way that the sun gets ready to go to sleep,
The color,
The sky,
The wind of cold,
A signal to go back home,
A time to rest,
The sunset is like a painting,
Looks very colorful,
As if time has stopped in time

–a PEOPLE student

There is a metal slide.
this metal slide reaches temperatures high enough to melt steel and burn any food instantly.
this metal slide is capable of spontaneously evaporating any liquid known to man.
and yet, children are still subjected to going down it like normal.

–a PEOPLE student

sage green walls
autumn scented air
cold wooden floors
a place I do my hair
it’s cold yet warm
cozy yet large
cluttered yet clean
my room is one of my favorite places to be seen.

–Peyton McConley

"After a long few hours" by Aria Schlaikowski

After a long few hours in school it was finally time for lunch. This group of friends always sat at the same table in the same spots with the same people. They got their food then sat at their usual table. They all started talking about things that happened in their classes. Little did they know that some of them had feelings for each other. After lunch was recess and two of the friends in the group went off talking. All the others watched as they were walking, talking, laughing, and smiling. As time went by the group of friends kept staring at the two watching and observing. Then finally someone started talking about how they looked like a couple. Everyone else agreed so when the two went back to the group everyone was smiling and laughing at them. The two didn’t know why and just stared at them in confusion. Finally one of them asked why they were laughing and no one wanted to tell them. The two kept asking and asking but got no answer. Finally when recess was almost over the group finally told them. The two were kinda shocked at first but not that much. As the days went by the two friends kept talking and going off on their own at recess. Soon to nobody’s surprise they both ended up saying they liked each other. The two didn’t know how to tell the group they were afraid it would ruin the friend group or start drama and neither of them wanted that to happen.

“When did laughter become love?”

–a PEOPLE student

“The friendships that help me grow are the ones I enjoy.”

–Briana Gray

“One day this rich culture will follow me to the best of my native soils, and I’ll remember the kitchen memories every day like they were yesterday.”

-a PEOPLE student

"The Yellow Bunny" by Axel Tubbs

In a dark and mysterious forest
I walked along the trunks of moist trees
A knot in my stomach
A snap of a branch
Was it me?
Who is here?
What could find me?
The whole world held its breath…

A bright bunny!
He was yellow, smiling
He was happy to find me
Someone young, and filled with life
Just as he was
Everything was brighter now
A new friend!
We danced in the fields
Drank tea on tree stumps
And played games
Hours and hours flew by
He invited me to his home

I woke up
The world dark and mysterious yet again
I blink
My body is wrong
I miss my sister
But now I am stuck, with the yellow bunny
I am his opposite
Trapped in this strange form
A snap of a branch
My ears twitch
And the yellow bunny leaves our home yet again

I hear the teacher talking but the words don’t enter my mind.
Everyone around me has something to say but I don’t.
The words slip my mind like my shoes on the ice.
Everything has a meaning but I can’t seem to understand what they’re saying.

–a PEOPLE student

To be funny is a gift of art,
Just a microphone to start.
With jokes and stories, we spread the smile,
The realm of a long laugh, felt like a mile.

In humor we search, we’ll find ways
Brighten our life, come what may.
So let’s cherish this gift so sweet,
Being funny makes life complete.

–a PEOPLE student

Here I am listening to the rain
Here I am listening to the waves in the sea
I’m on top lighting the way for ships by my self
Sometimes I want some one here with me
Maybe one day one day I will find someone one day.

–a PEOPLE student

"In the realm of life" by Darreon Turner

In the realm of life, where hearts reside,
Colors dance, in emotions they confide.
From the dawn’s blush to the dusk’s violet hue,
Each color whispers a story that’s new.

Red, the color of passion and love,
Burning brightly as the stars above.
It screams with intensity, bold and bright,
A symbol of courage, ready to fight.

Orange, a color so vibrant and warm,
Like autumn leaves in a festive swarm.
It brings joy, energy, and endless delight,
An ember in the heart, burning so bright.

Yellow, the color of sunshine and cheer,
A radiant smile, wiping away the tear.
It dances with joy and a spirit so free,
An emblem of hope, as boundless as the sea.

Green, a symbol of growth and peace,
Where worries fade and troubles cease.
Like a forest deep or a meadow wide,
In its tranquility, we confide.

Blue, the color of the boundless sky,
A soothing whisper, a comforting sigh.
A symbol of trust, loyalty, and wisdom,
A tranquil ocean of infinite freedom.

Purple, the color of mystery and power,
As enchanting as a twilight hour.
A symbol of luxury, ambition, and grace,
A dreamy star in the infinite space.

Black and white, in contrast they stand,
Like the sea meeting the sand.
Black, a symbol of elegance and might,
White, a beacon of purity and light.

From fiery red to calming blue,
Each color sings a melody true.
Emotions painted in every shade,
In the canvas of life, beautifully laid.

“Sitting by a cliff edge”
by a PEOPLE student

Sitting by a cliff edge, I close my eyes and breath in. One breath in…another out. A calming chill runs down my spin as I open my eyes again to see the sun setting, the sky filled with hues of reds to blue. “Beautiful..”. Suddenly I hear a branch snap in half. I quickly turn my head around to see a white fawn in the bushes.I stand up slowly, as to not scare away the baby. “Hello…” I whisper to it. “Where’s your momma, I’m sure she’s around here somewhere..” I cautiously approach the fawn. What a strange dear… not running away and with no mother in sight. Then the fawn slowly walks towards me. It bites on my clothes and then WOAH..

Suddenly it’s dragging me around the forest, somehow I can’t stop it. “STOP STOP!” I persist at it. I try to lessen the grip it has on my clothes. I knew this wasn’t a normal fawn.. Why’d I have to be so curious!!

Suddenly we come at a stop, making me fall face first. I groan in pain, then I feel a lick on my face. I look up and…. beauty. A large tree, with glowing leaves. Large roots and moss all around. Vines growing on the trunk of the tree… Beauty.

“The forest was cold”
Anthony Parson

The forest was cold and snowy
Even the bundles of clothing couldn’t keep you warm
You find the silent falling snow comforting
But it blocked your view so you had to stay alert
While you couldn’t hear the animals on the soft and powdery snow
You knew they were there
As the snow gradually cleared
You look around and see the reindeer in the sky
As Santa passes by
Their feet glide through the sky and make a joyful picture
With light and happy lines
You know
They will make peoples day.
You wish they were here now
Giving presents to you on Christmas day
But now
All you get is coal
And gloomy days

In the heart of the forest, where sunlight gleams,
A sanctuary of green, where nature dreams.

Towering trees reach for the sky,
Their branches embrace, their leaves whisper by.

A symphony of sounds fills the air,
Birds sing their songs, the wind whispers with care.

Sunlight dances through the canopy,
Creating a dappled pattern on the ground, so free.

–Soumil Sengupta

The things I see people do my mind holds many truths
Drunk the wine for his blood
Ate the bread for his touch
Smiled at me with a hug
Blackbirds looking up above
Ran away from love
Lied in his face just for a dub oh lord forgive me for this day
Because your son doesn’t know that I’m a mistake
Kissed on the cheek to signal them
Its him its him oh it’s him
All this just for greed
Looking at my hands on my knees
Looking up in the sky
Just Blackbirds Blackbirds saying hi
The blackbirds signaling me
What have i done what have i done
Next to a palm tree

–Jabril Sanders

You can feel the breeze
Swimming through your hair.
And you can hear the trees
Dance to the beat of the wind.

The sun
Right above your head
Who is smiling down at you.

And you see
The rich grass field
With the air
that smells like irish spring.

Now you see,
With the bright and shiny day
The future will take you away.

–a PEOPLE student

"The Light Who Shines" by Kimberly Vang

Isolated from the tragedies of the world
Roaming and floating endlessly around
Stuck and confined to one spot, forever
To serve the sole purpose of guiding the lost back home

Without the light, it served no purpose

The light that makes way for people of all kinds
Whether tired or broken or lost,
Or happy or sad or even alone.

There was no reason it couldn’t stand now;
It would only be a matter of time
Before the raging pit of anger settled down.
It, who had withheld the terrors of many storms

Nothing could stop it now

The light that began to flicker, on and off and on and on
Rocking back and forth inside, a foundation not so strong
Searching for a way to keep on moving,
And urgently finding any solution

It could not just exist, it was made to serve.

The light that once guided the fisherman back home
Who reunited with his daughter,
Shining and smiling and dazzling and glowing

Each scar and scratch within
That makes up the way it stands
Yearning to live one more day, or maybe even three,
And wishing it could’ve done more to help.

Maybe if the storm wasn’t so tough now,

It wouldn’t have to dwell on the days that once were bright.
The end seems almost impossible
Out of reach and out of sight,
Could it live to see the light one more day?

Every lighthouse needs its own light.

But maybe that light comes from within.
Because like what they say,
The storm is nothing compared to the peace that’s coming

And like every other one before,
It always passes and the light comes through
With time and patience, this will too
And it will stand strong, like what it always does.

I have the strength and I have the power to conquer every storm – this one will not stop me now.

“Fair Love”
Jonathan Escobar Holguin

Like a horse on a carousel
we never catch up with each other

A sweet as cotton candy but as
sticky as candy apples

Their ego as big as a balloon; but
can be easily destroyed

Like a house of mirrors; full of themselves
with white teeth but dark smile

Just like fair food, you bring disgust to
my stomach and full of regret

Even though we both agreed to ride this
roller coaster of love; only one will leave
satisfied with memories full of joy

Eva Ieplae

I curl into the autumn-colored throw,
The warmth of my dog lying on me as he
just barely falls into a slumber,
I can see the flames of the fireplace reflecting off the dark dining room walls,
The sound of my favorite show filling the living room,
I hear my dad cooking in the kitchen his podcast
Competing with the noise of the TV
I play my video game while half watching the TV
The feeling of safety and warmth this is home.


A lingering smell of fish in the air
laughs and giggles surround you
The lifeguard warns kids of misbehavior
Parents lie on the beach,
“Watching their kids”
Frolic in the sparkling water.
The teal blue fades into dark as it goes toward the horizon
Does it go on forever?
It seems like it.
A small oasis at the edge of a city.

–a PEOPLE student


Water Flows
Trees Grow
Sun Shines
Crickets Chirp
Birds Fly
Squirrels Climb
Fish Swim
Rabbits Run
Leaves Fall
Flowers Bloom

–a PEOPLE student

I realize something.
I find out that some people are not helping out
while others are
I wonder why they take advantage of this harmony.

–a PEOPLE student


"you know what you did" by Jay Davis

you know what you did.
the evidence so clearly written on your face
as you stab me in the heart
leaving me with this curse of loneliness
surely you must’ve known
condemning me to this hell
hating & loving you at the same time
i can’t escape
i can’t forgive you, with that look in your eyes
but there was something else there

…but maybe it wasn’t even you
maybe it was i who brought this to pass
did you think that?
was i the one holding the knife,
blade tipped with poison,
this whole time?
perhaps that deeper look in your eyes
was of concern
of grief
of genuine despair.
…i should’ve known.
i swear i know you better than that
i’m sorry.
i’m so, so sorry
…it’s my fault, isn’t it?
i was too busy trying to show you your faults in the mirror
that i forgot to see my own reflection.
this pains me.
for so long, i thought…

well, no matter.
i doubt you’ll forgive me anyway
i only hope you can forget me
and move on to greater things
i know you deserve it.
or perhaps,
it was you all along.
all of this
only to point out to me
the flaws that i so obviously,
so naively,
well, i’m glad.
it certainly worked.
i’m counting on you to climb out of
to escape
this hellish game
of my creation
how was i so blind?

no, thanks.
i don’t need to escape
i think i should stay
to rot and wallow
because that’s what i deserve.

…are you sure?
after everything i’ve done?
why should i deserve such kindness?

thank you.
you know, maybe that’s it.
maybe the only way to truly escape
is together
to try again
this time without the trickery
i’ll try
i swear i’ll try harder for you.
i know you deserve it.

Love always seems to be something beautiful
People even see it as a word more meaningful
Does it matter if you laugh or cry
Does it matter if you live or die
Is it when you give someone full attention
Is it when you feel a deep connection
Is it always at first sight
Is it always an ignite

–a PEOPLE student

An old sweater.
It’s like any old sweater.
The knitted holes are starting to loosen,
The once bright white thread, now a sad grey.
That old sweater,
No one ever really cared to wear it.
They’d wear it once and on to the next.
No question to it.
That foolish sweater,
It’s not even a pretty looking sweater,
Just an irritating itchy sweater.
A sweater that will get attached,
Attached to every prickly bush and every dirty branch.
Oh dear sweater,
You can’t even keep them warm.
You silly sweater,
Please don’t get torn.

–Shelley Torres

I like the way I schedule myself
I like my musical taste
I enjoy how carefree I am
I like how I can take compliments
I like my ingenuity
I keep these positive traits close to my chest in mentally dark times, reminding me what vessel keeps me going.

–a PEOPLE student

"Stomped on but not crushed" by Eva Quarm

Stomped on but not crushed:
We were taken from our homes and put into slavery
Our skin was branded by irons and broken by whips
We were separated from family and auctioned off

We were racially segregated
We were lynched for looking at a white person the wrong way
We were given worse facilities simply because our skin was dark

We are doomed before even reaching this world
Black mothers living in fear of having a black child
Afraid of the life they’ll have to live
The knowledge that her kids will have to spend the entirety of their life looking over their shoulders out of fear

We are made to fear the police
Forced to teach our children guidelines on how to survive encounters with the boys in blue
Living out lives terrified of the “protectors” who beat and kill us
Feeling lucky if we end up in handcuffs rather than graves

We feel obliged to send an “I love you” text
Because anyone and everyone that looks like us could be next
Something as little as a ticket could lead to death
Hoping for justice because our deaths could come off as careless neglect

We are killed by police and given settlements
As of that could replace a life
No amount of money could bring our dead back to us

We are out into jail cells
Some of us falsely accused, others suffering because of the system
It’s like we are “Guilty until proven innocent”
Isn’t it the other way around?

We are dismissed at job interviews
We are watched in stores
Forced to change the way we dress and talk to make others comfortable
Know that this system has been built and formed to work against us

It feels like we are constantly being put down
Our hopes and dreams are crushed as if they were made of glass
Hopes and dreams that could’ve been made into something more

Yet still, we marched
We marched on Washington
We marched from Selma to Montgomery
We marched for freedom

After all these years we are still marching
We march for equality
We march for justice
We march for our lives
We keep on marching

And we’ll continue to march, never to lose hope
Yes, we’ve been knocked down many times, but we haven’t been broken
Not then, not now, not ever

"Remember" by a PEOPLE student

I tell myself that every day
Our eyes intertwined
just like the red threads tied to our fingertips.
I try to remember your scent again
and again still sniffing you in
The sky and hues of red and blue
could never erase my thoughts of you
and again you’re here reminiscing in my mind
and dare I say just like old times.
You flowed through my veins
Breathing in
Breathing out
I remember
Your deep ocean eyes
Drowned me
Like a siren you lured me
And still, I remember
Our love reminisces in my mind
You couldn’t hold on so
Again, I remember.
As we sit here under this star encrusted sky
After running around town all day
Going to different stores
Different houses and meeting new friends
With everything that has happened in my life
Nothing ever will be better
Then the time I spend with you
Under this star encrusted sky
I have one last thing to ask of you
The person I adore and live for the most
Do you love me back
Or has this fantasy of love and life
That I have been living under for these past years
Just been a dream to stay
In these star encrusted skies

“So, my friend, even in the face of adversity, we held onto hope. We kept pushing forward, knowing that our struggle was not in vain. Stay strong and keep fighting for what you believe in.”

–a PEOPLE student

“What else would push him?
He had no family, no goals.
Only his own needs.
To survive.
When the ocean pushed, he had no choice but to confront it.”

–James Corona

“I want you to know that you’re not alone in feeling this way. It’s okay to struggle with self-esteem, many of us do. I remember a time when I doubted myself constantly, feeling like I wasn’t good enough. But I discovered that self-love is possible, and it’s a journey worth taking.”

–a PEOPLE student


"The fan hums" by a PEOPLE student

The fan hums
The clock ticks
The sheets are still on the bed,
as crisp and pressed as ever.
Above them, lies me.
Unmoving, quiet.
Sometimes your thoughts can be your worst enemy,
Especially when nothing lingers to distract them.

To open up
Is not easy.
To share, to feel,
to split yourself open and be brave enough not to run away.
To let someone else tell you things you know you don’t believe.
But sometimes it’s enough to try.

Healing is a process.
It’s a journey.
It means struggling and working and sometimes failing.
But even when you fall
Down the path you’ve climbed
You are miles higher from where you started.
You are better. And that’s what keeps you

Every day it gets better
Some days
You don’t notice anything wrong.
You are carefree.
very now and then
A bad day brings you down, but now?
You just spring back.

When you look back
You can see how far you’ve come.
Some moments make you cringe
Some make you smile
But ultimately they’re all part of you.
You keep them all
All the memories
Always a part of you
Because without them,
you could never
Love yourself
The way you do now.

"Listen kid" by Zora Penager Davidson

Listen kid, let me tell you something. I completely understand what you’re going through. I get you’re afraid of where this money’s going to come from. Engineers make way more than singers and it’s painfully obvious. And lord knows you need stability in your life. But I don’t really think that’s the problem. I think you just don’t want to be like your mother. I get that too. You’ve had your ups and downs, that’s for sure. But money won’t solve that. Money only puts a bandage over a bullet hole, and bullet holes are mighty dangerous when they don’t get closed. I’ve only ever seen you smile when you sing. When I hear your voice, I can hear that bullet hole being healed and I can hear it healing other people too. And before you say anything with that smart mouth of yours, yes I know. You’ve told me a million times that there are plenty of other, better singers out there. They have been singing since they were ten. You realize I know that. Darling, you seem to think that the richest summer camps and the best private teachers have some sort of magic power that somehow makes everyone it touches the best singers on earth. No, you don’t need all that to touch people’s souls. Cause girl, all the money in the world can’t teach you how to sing from the heart. Child, Julliard wants you because they see that in YOU, not those other people. They even gave you money! So take it. Yeah, other careers will be less work! But that hole in your heart will just stay there because when you close your eyes, you’ll wonder what if. I know I do. Because I had this chance too baby and…I didn’t take it. And every night when I close my eyes, I imagine singing at the Apollo Theater. And don’t get me wrong, I love this place and I’m never going to leave. But, baby, I couldn’t bear to watch my little niece make the same mistake as me. Because from the first time I heard you, I knew! I knew my little niece was going to touch the world, and my job was to help you get there. So if for some stupid reason you won’t do this for yourself, you will do it for your auntie. Cause Zari when you’re on top of the world, you’ll thank me.

“As long as I keep exposing myself to new ideas and solutions, I can use this to my advantage.”

–Julianne C. Pagas

“As the final whistle blew, our team emerged victorious, crowned champions. I realized that overcoming self-doubt wasn’t just about winning a game, it was about believing in myself, no matter the odds.”

–Armando Juarez Mendoza

“Progress is always better than nothing and I know that as you reflect upon yourself and improve on your problems, you will become the best version of yourself that I know you can be.”

–a PEOPLE student

"self-acceptance" by a PEOPLE student

how can i do such a thing when the true human nature depends on other beings to live?
i pound my chest and chain myself on my wrists.
making deep cuts and ruins of my arms because i depended on oceans to take me slowly along their waves.
but i was too indulged that when the waves got rougher, i drowned within them.
letting them fill my lungs until i became part of the seafoams that just attatch to the sea.
i felt like i could not let go.
and i didn’t know staying would make me AND the oceans actually die within.
i’m sorry.
i didn’t mean to.
in the end, i was chained.
my neck, feeling choked and suffocated by the wrath and hands of what i thought were so soft
my wrists, tight and stung by the blade i have gotten so close to
my ankles, weak and broken but i felt like i haven’t walked that far.
am i running in the same place?
WHY do i keep running in the same place?
as my body started decomposing,
my mother.
my father.
who knew they couldn’t break the chains but
hugged me while they saw me slowly dying.
as they still tried to break the chains i created, they knew that their hands weren’t enough to break what was tearing me apart.

may 4th, 2023
i remember laying on the bed.
for hours and hours.
the chains keeping me in were so rusty at that point.
“why try to bring back my spark that was already blown out?”
i would always ask myself.
as i sat there, the psychologist came in
“you need to go to day treatment”

4 hours each day
20 hours each week
80 hours a month.
240 hours for 3 months.
working to remove the chains i created myself
to let go of the wrath i held on my own neck for years.
the entire summer, just working.
September 30th, I was discharged.
my worth. my spark, my happiness returned
and my soul patted me on the shoulder going back within me.
i shined. i shined so bright, brighter than i ever thought before.
i smiled more beautiful with my yellow toned teeth than i even knew
i danced in the rain more smoothly than i did.
i loved myself.

—my worth is much more. i have worked so long and hard, and even if i went back, it wouldn’t disregard the hard work i have done to maintain and better my mental health now. i am a person, so true, authentic, and real. i am a person with depression and anxiety, but i am still real. i am human. every single breath i have breathed, every single thing i have felt with my hands, every single shine that i have looked at, and every every single note of music i have heard, has brought me life. everything is love, and it’s okay to have authenticity. i am asian. i am lesbian. i am a women. i am everything, and i love that about me.

“spring flowers grow”
by Violet Stoll

spring flowers grow
animals find there home
a tall old lighthouse stands out in the cold

spring rain falls
as the lighthouse try’s to stand tall
the thunder rumbles
while the wood tumbles
lighting shines brighter then the light
all throughout the night

the lighthouse must stay strong
it’s been animals home all along
pictures have been taken
but the lighthouse needs to awaken

the sun shines bright
all throughout that fright
the lighthouse stands strong
and continues to live long.

by a PEOPLE student

the sound of thunder shocks the lighthouse keeper
from his daydream
surrounds him
engulfs him
the ships are going to crash
if he doesn’t get the light working again
the bulb has burnt out and he needs to find another
he rushes down the hundreds of stairs
to the basement of the lighthouse
he trifles through the boxes in
the dimly lot basement until
he finds what he’s looking for
a brand new bulb
he stumbles up the stairs
tripping and falling
memories of Nora
creep in
how they used to weather these storms
and now that she’s gone
he can’t seem to keep the lighthouse functioning
struggling to catch his breath through
the sobs that crash through him like waves
he manages to reach the top of the stairs
he collapses

I am moving though worlds of war
Singing songs of sadness
Earth is now a planet of distress
Nothing feels familiar
Time is an illusion
And my vision is gone
But I will just stay here singing my song

–a PEOPLE student

Joy is in many different forms,
The space is beautiful,
It’s quiet, calm, undisturbed,
It smells sweet, but subtle, not overwhelming,
The air is crisp and light and you could easily dream,
Everything is soft and squishy,
All the corners are dull and round,
It’s aesthetically pleasing,
It’s mentally accepted,
The furniture is furniture that everyone wants,
And even though this space is only small,
It’s like a place where clouds are made,
It’s not bright in color and yet it is,
It’s not filled with sunlight and yet it is,
This space is, to me, what pure joy is,
What it could be,
What it should be,
So what is joy to you?

–Markita Williams

Love, a flame that never dies,
Bringing joy and endless skies.
Together, we’ll conquer all,
Love’s embrace will never fall.

–Ca Chin Tial

"Forever Thankful" by Richard Xiong

The trips we shared, the food we shared, and the bed we shared.
I’m forever thankful.
From the fruit loops in the bowls you got.
To the missed toilet bowls you shot.
I’m forever thankful.
To every film we watched to every food we botched.
I’m forever thankful
The food you brought home for some of us and the music you put onto some of us.
I’m forever thankful.
Even though you’re tough and though stuff gets rough, I’m thankful for the fish you caught for us.
I’m forever thankful.
To the food you buy us, to the house over our heads.
I’m forever thankful.
From the unity with you, there’s a community with you.
I’m forever thankful.
Even with your tough love, the experience bathed upon us by you is to be thanked.
I’m forever thankful.

For everything that you all have done I had all the love and for that I’m Forever Thankful

“The Beach Isn’t Real”
by a PEOPLE student

I watch the waves on the beach,
they crash against the soft sand at our feet,
reaching our ankles.
The sun sinks into the ocean’s mass,
the tips of the waves touch the light,
warming their cold core.
Her hair is brown,
The wind touches it gently,
letting it fly.
The air is salty, cool.
And the beach
isn’t real.


“The Ol’ Oak Tree”
Brian Garcia

The ol’ oak tree
The roots symbolize us
I’ll stay on the bus, forget about us, put the blame on me
It’s been three long years, do you still want me?
Bus driver, please look for me
‘Cause I couldn’t bear to see what I might see
I’m really still in prison and my love, she holds the key
A simple oak tree is what I need to set me free
And I wrote and told her please
Don’t leave me
Cuz’ I’m still waiting
By that ol’ oak tree


"SO PROUD" by a PEOPLE student

One day, during the middle of May in 5th grade, I was just talking to my friend, when my teacher Ms. Wagner asked me to come to her desk. I thought I was in trouble for something, but it was about the graduation ceremony.

“——-, we are giving speeches in front of the school during the ceremony and I insist on you being one of the speakers,” said Ms. Wagner

A shy kid, A had a great fear of speaking out in crowds. My eyes widen, and I didn’t know what to say. Luckily, my teacher told me to give it some thought and let her know . When I arrived home, my mom asked to speak with me concerning this speech. She stated that my teacher Ms. Wagner felt that I didn’t want to complete the assignment. My mom told me the benefits of doing it and tried to give me more confidence to do it. After speaking to my mom, I felt a little more confident about speaking in front of a crowd. She eventually convinced me and I started to write it out.

I started to map out the format of the speech. My mom helped me type it out, made comments on mistakes and gave suggestions throughout the time I was writing. Eventually, she read it over and helped me speak it into existence. She told me where to stand and look at the audience. She taught me some public speaking skills like where to stand while speaking and she also advised me to keep my eyes focused on the audience. The next day I told Ms. Wagner how I was up for the challenge, and she was thrilled.

She gave me instructions on practicing, and who I should practice with. My first practice was in front of my peers in the auditorium. I practiced once or twice a week for the next two weeks. I had to work on the delivery of my words to prevent myself from stuttering and stumbling over my words. I messed up a few times while practicing, but over time I had little to no errors.

Today was the day of the graduation ceremony, a long awaited moment of… performing in front of the entire school. I got ready with my outfit and I looked great. A black suit, black dress shoes, and a gold chain to top it off.

Mom asked “Are you ready for your speech today?”

I said “Yeah, but I’m kind of nervous”

“Don’t be, you got this, me and the family are going to support you”

This gave me a little bit of pressure, but gaining their support had given me more confidence. Once I got to school I spent my final moments with my friends, some of them were sobbing and crying because they were either moving out of state or going to another school. Twenty minutes before we had to go to the auditorium, my teacher shouted my name.

I started walking towards her nervously, but all she wanted to do was congratulate me, “You came a long way, this is your moment” I started smiling with gratitude

“Thank you, you have been a great teacher and, you have helped me gain a lot of confidence”

The time was near and we started walking to the auditorium. Me and my classmates were surprised at how many people showed up. I wasn’t shaking or anything, just a little nervous. The fifth grade teacher started talking about how great her class was.  Students started crying again and I was just waiting for my opportunity to go up for my speech. When the teacher stopped speaking, I walked up to the stage, grabbed my paper, and fixed the microphone. I looked out at the audience, all eyes were on me.

“Hello everyone, hope y’all are enjoying this very special day”

Then I started talking about my life journey from being a shy kid, and how it was hard for me to speak out in front of a crowd. While giving my speech, all types of emotions were flowing through my body, and at the end of the speech, I felt great. Everyone was clapping and I saw my mom getting emotional in the crowd. While I was walking from the stage, I heard my family in the distance.

“WE ARE SO PROUD OF YOU,” they said.

This gave me a gigantic confidence booster and it influenced me to want to speak up more publicly. This fifth grade speech helped me with present-day presentations, plays, and speeches.I never knew that speaking out would become so easy, until then.. I learned to have confidence in myself.

I want to thank everyone that told me to keep going and told me to step outside of my comfort zone. Maybe for the people reading this, it might give you motivation to try new things or speak out in public. I hope at least you all understand the message and have a good day.

"A doll in the antique store" by Isabel "Sofi" Peterson

A doll in the antique store

She was small and fragile

And rare

You’d seen her once before in your grandmother’s attic

A gentle, smiling expression on her face wrapped you with comfort and nostalgia

Yet you still felt sad

You place her on the jewelry box she was made with and wind her up

Her treasure is gone

A melody plays, once beautiful

Now distorted

Yet she dances for you

Spinning slowly in circles

Displaying all her cracks and bruises

She’d danced before many times

For many little girls

Many little children

Like your grandmother

But they’d grow up

And she’d find herself once again in the same antique store

Waiting to be found

Only to be forgotten

The music dies down

She ceases to dance

That once beautiful smile broken with missing treasures

Missing memories

You poke your hand on of the edges

It startles you

She falls

You wake up in your room to realize it was only a dream

The antique store is nowhere to be found

The doll nowhere to be seen

You are safe, your life as normal and happy as before

Yet the sound of shattering porcelain ringing on that wooden floor still haunts you

As you try to look back on your dream

But find it was never there

“How’d I get here?”
by a PEOPLE student

How’d I get here?
This world is full of fascinating plants and creatures.
Plants that shine like the sun itself, creatures talking to each other as if they were people.
The islands were stunning with colors that range from the darkest reds to the lightest purples.
Vine bridges intertwining the islands for everyone to go in and out as they please.

Walking through this world it almost didn’t feel real; everything was so calm and therapeutic.
Life here was like what you would imagine kids would come up with, but calmer than children.
The far end planet was a jungle, trees of greens as well as blues and purples.
Animals of all kinds from otters of red in the ponds, birds of rainbows flying across the purple sky.
In the centre of it all was a beautiful pond with a waterfall.
The water is blue and shining like liquid diamonds with goldfish swimming and playing around in the water completely feeling free from the world.
How I wish I could be one with them, to be swimming in the water not caring about anything or how people feel about me.

“As the sun sets”
by a PEOPLE student

As the sun sets the forest finely seems to quiet down
What once was a forest being shower with golden sun rays are replaced by a cold blue shine
The old and wise trees now reach for the stars
The night sky is just as beautiful as it was when the sun was out the only difference now is how calming it feels
As I looked back at the path that leads into the forest I can no longer as far as I could but there is a deer this time
Given a spot light from the full moon
As I stepped towards it rain deeper into the forest leaving behind only footprints in the moss that covered the ground.

"The Power of Poetry" by Nigel Her

The power of poetry
Is a gift of misery and sadness
Whenever I write
It takes me back
To history itself
The Black Death is a sad event
Many people lay dead on the streets
Nobody to save them
Nobody to hear them
There is nothing people can do
Everyone is paranoid
The value of life shows as people struggle to cling on to their lives
The deaths of whole generations is in sight
People who are dead lay are forever frozen in time as they pass
The dark age looming on the continent of Europe itself
Humanity has never experienced a event like this
Europe’s population is no more
As villages are wiped out of existence, there is no telling what carnage the Black Death can do
The families of the dead have no time to mourn
Baskets of those for the dead stroll away in the night
As survivors straggle from their homes, they are greeted by misery and the foul smell of death
As Death itself lay to feast on it’s next victims who have fallen ill
With a stroke of a pen, time can change into what you most fear
Demise is waiting, as he draws near
The future is no different
Skyscrapers fill the cities
Cities, just cities
The endless horizon of cities
Diseases deadlier than the Black Death arise
There are no cures
The bright sun is not visible
Nor is the beautiful shining moon
The world is misted in a black smog
You can’t adapt to these unhuman ways
Why can’t we make the world a better place?
Why can’t everyone be normal?
With nothing solved, is a world a corrupt and mindless place?
Are we the cause of our demise?
Our choices as a human race has doomed the word, it is hopeless to save it.
The human race was doomed from the start.
There is no turning back.

"Stolen Years" by a PEOPLE student

I was in 8th grade when the pandemic hit the country & schools
Only 13? Maybe 14, but everything changed in those 2 years
Friends, Family, People, it all felt as if we had missed out on a lot of things
Memories that we could have had will never be made, with friends & lovers that now we’ll never know

That 2-week shutdown of school.
We were excited that we’d get a 2-week vacation!
But what was supposed to be only 14 virtual lessons turned into 2 years of online school
I was honestly surprised & excited; that meant more video games.

1st year kicked in, and it felt so surreal; time flew by
I said bye, to too many friends that now I’ll never know
Everyone’s eyes were all I could remember, with their voices
That same blue mask everywhere with no one really knowing each other

I’ve thought of everything I’ve missed out on now.
My heart now felt hollow, like I just knew that now my circle was gonna be a lot smaller.
I cried thinking how I’ll never get those years back, stolen years of my very, very, very short childhood.
But now I can smile, knowing that I still have great friends around me every day.

"Intensions" by a PEOPLE student

Intensions confused now my darlings entwined
Temptation miss used now we wither and pine
And the dusk reaches further then ever I saw
Might as well put in effort, let that hollow heart thaw

Requite that loyal genuine, all in – we’ll score tonight
But never let the truth be told, the reason we’re alright
More effort, luster, make us shine then squeak
Lest you revel in the truth, the origin might leak

Now we rumble, reek and rot
The story less discreet
We’re too far in, the structure dense
Soon crumbles, the concrete

One new dawn approaches
Amidst a dying light
That rampant lust is distant
You and I we’ll do alright