Before birth: 2000

I was one of the first people who has never lived in a world without the International Space Station.

Around the time of birth: 2001

The world’s first self-contained artificial heart was implanted in Robert Tools.

In my future: 2032

By the time I am 30, the collective GDP of the four leading developing countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) is likely to match that of today’s leading western nations.


Trout Opening Day

The sight of early morning mist over the water, and silver dew on each blade of green grass. The sound of frogs jumping into the cool water as the heavy footfall of eager fisherman scare them away from shore, the deafening roar of the fast moving water. The feel of the rough yet soft cork on the fishing rod’s handle. The air is moist and makes tiny water beads on any exposed skin. The smell of a fresh rainfall that lingers in air. The taste of bitter black coffee and powdered donuts from the gas station down the street. Then suddenly the clock hits 8:00 and the senses no longer respond. Mind and body working in perfect unison for the perfect first cast. A slow retrieve then a bump and a jerk. “Fish On!”

Andrew Muschlitz

Spots of time

Whenever I get the slightest bit of an ocean smell it takes me back to all the great things I have done with my family at the beach.  We always go boogie boarding and fishing.  Another thing we have done more is a ropes course and it’s about 5 or 6 stories tall with all these cool things you have to do and it’s really fun to do with your family and friends.  We also love to walk on the pier and fish there and last summer I almost caught a stingray that was 8-9 feet wide, it was amazing. So everytime I get a smell of the ocean it just takes me to all the fun adventurous things we do.  

Different is Good

I am unique. What I think and what I value is what makes me, me. If I lowered my standards and morals, I would just be going with the crowd; I’d be losing my individuality. If I started caring about what people think of how I view life, I would be giving up on myself. I am confident, independent, and I don’t need anyone’s approval. I am different. Different is good.

Name Heritage Essay

Zach. Not Zac or Zack, but Zach. The unique spelling of my name makes Google Spellcheck go red with frustration and presents a challenge for all the substitute teachers. Many times I have wondered why my name was spelled the way it is, and although I enjoy the uncommon spelling and exclusivity, it made me laugh when my mother informed me that my peculiar spelling was due to her “…being hopped up on drugs” right after I was born. Originally my name was supposed to be Jordan, but after some close friends named their newborn Jordan, a new name needed to be drawn up. The second name choice came from a combination of how my parents liked the sound of Zach, and the biblical meaning, the Lord is remembered. After the fact this name meaning became a perfect fit. Being born with my lungs filled with fluid, my umbilical cord wrapped around my neck twice, and all the machinery malfunctioning, the fact that I am still here is a miracle. Continue reading

The Difference Between You and I

They asked what would I be if I could be anything so I said good enough but you said happy and that’s the difference between you and I because all I want is to please others and feel like I’m worth your time but you just want that false state of euphoria where you don’t feel sad and that’s why you turned to drugs and I turned to a blade because I punish myself while you punish the world but no amount of drugs or razors will change us.

Looking into the Eyes of Someone You Love

Your heart rate picks up. Your eyes dilate. You stop thinking. They are talking, you’re trying to focus, but your world just blurs around you. Your thoughts go wild, blocking out the surrounding noises. You just stare at their soul, the different colors that uniquely blend, the way their eyes smile when they do. You can’t help but think of how lucky you are. They stop talking and giggle while you are just smiling like an idiot. The way they make you shyly look away from them, then look back up just to get stuck in your world again. Stuttering when you realized they asked a question. You have no idea what their joke was, but when they throw their head back laughing you can’t help but grin and just be glad they are happy. Talking normally and then suddenly you find yourself staring at their lips while biting yours, then shaking the thoughts away. They go to check their phone and while they are focusing on the screen, you have time to just take in the details of their face. When they blink, move their fingers across their face, seeing the corners of their mouth rise into a small smile. Details that make you fall in love with them even more.

-Karly Emmert



Her Name is Anxiety

I’ve lived with a mental disease in my mind for years. When I was a little girl, I didn’t know that she was deep in my mind, sealed away and unknown. But, I grew up. And as I grew up, she started slowly coming into my view. Seeping into my thoughts, into my everyday thinking. I grew scared of her, not knowing what she was making me become. I tried to control her, but she was too strong. She took over my whole mind, I couldn’t even control myself anymore. I couldn’t be myself. She took over everything about me and I was a whole new person. A scared, paranoid little girl. I was so weak, letting everything about her consume everything about me. She was the one who controlled my body, not me. I was a nobody anymore, all you saw was her.

Her name was Anxiety and she nearly killed me. She knew every single weakness about me and I knew none about her. I never wanted her here with me. She took over all control without permission. I didn’t know what she wanted, she never said. I just wanted her to leave but how could I ask her when I knew I couldn’t live without her? I hated every single fiber of her being but I couldn’t let her go. She was the biggest part of me and I didn’t know if I was ready to live without her. All I’ve learned to know is to live with her, constantly being by my side. Was I even able to leave her?

I tried to leave. We were apart for awhile, a couple months actually. My parents started making me take little white pills to help with her. Everything was going great. I didn’t see her, I didn’t think about her, I didn’t speak about her. And even though she wasn’t mentioned, I could still feel her there in the back of my mind, watching everything I was doing. She was lurking in the background, waiting to see what I was going to do next. And then one day, she just came back.

She hit me like a wrecking ball. My whole world was turned back upside down, like she was giving me all the wrath that I missed of hers while she was gone. The little white pills weren’t working anymore and I didn’t know what to do. She was starting to control my life again and I didn’t want her to. She was impossible to escape. Four different kinds of pills later and I was still begging God that she would go away. My thoughts were hers again and my life wasn’t my own anymore. I couldn’t escape what world she had made her own. She was my own personal leech, feeding off my demise.

I went through months of this, having her always there. My life went slowly in a dwindling spiral, not knowing what I was doing with my life anymore. She took over everything. I didn’t have a control over my life anymore and everyday I just wanted to explode. I was done with having her in my life. She was an uninvited stranger living in my own body, completely taking over every ounce of my being.

And then something changed in my life. Slowly but surely, she started going away. No not completely, but she did change. She stopped being so aggressive, her angry demeanor not as powerful as it was. It was like she was slowly fading out of my body, mind, and soul. She was still there, in the back of my mind, reminding me that she was still there. I wish that she was completely gone, but with months having her almost killing me, this was enough for me. And how I did it? A wonderful thing and a slightly horrible thing: friends and therapy.

My friends were there for me even when they didn’t know what was going on. I talked to them constantly, never once being judged or controlled like how she used to treat me. I could always count on them, knowing that no matter what time of day it was, I could call and they would be there. They were always there, kind of like her. But instead of being there trying to take me over, they were getting me in control instead. They made me remember that it was my body, not hers. My amount of bravery and self esteem peaked to its highest point that it has ever been at before. I was actually myself for once in my life.

And then there was therapy. No it wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but it wasn’t the best. The thing that I didn’t like about it was that it was therapy. When people think therapy, they think mental problems and difficulties. I just hated the stereotype. I kept it hidden from a lot of people for the longest time. I wasn’t comfortable with people knowing that I had a problem and had to go seek professional help. It saddened me knowing I couldn’t tell people the real reason why I couldn’t hang out with them or text them. I had to lie and it killed me. But then I finally realized, who the hell cares? Just because I go to therapy, doesn’t mean I’m depressed or have too many problems that it makes me go get help. I went to help myself become a stronger, more in control person. I was proud of my stereotype and I didn’t care who knew it.

And then there was the actual therapy part. To be completely honest, I loved therapy. My therapist would let me talk for our whole session without him saying a word or would give me questions that really made me think about my life. I would really think about my whole life with Anxiety and reevaluate every moment with her that I had. He made me feel better about myself after every session and it would just make me a happier person, knowing that I can actually live with her. I even looked forward to the session throughout the whole day. Who knew that something people judged so much was actually something really nice?

She still lives with me to this day. Always there, in the background. At times, she gets back in control. But I learned how to deal with her to where she goes back away, even if its just for a moment or two. I still hang out with the same friends and I still go to therapy every Thursday. And with everything I’ve been through while I’ve been living with her, I have learned so much about her and myself. Even though I hated everything about her, I’m glad I live with her.

Anxiety taught me that I can overcome her and actually live in my own body. She taught me that even though I can be at my lowest point where she almost killed me, I can be stronger than her. That I can be in charge of myself for once in my life. And even though I know that I still haven’t overcome all of her, I’m happy about it because it’s better than what I used to be. I know that she can possibly come back one day, but I will overcome her again. Anxiety taught me that I can always be stronger than her. No matter what happens in my life, she will not take over my life again.

I know that Anxiety will always be with me and for now, I welcome her to be with me. I will conquer her one day, and until that day happens, I will be here, being the stronger person. Anxiety really changed my life for the good and the bad, but I am glad that she is here. I hope other people learn how to control her too and know that they can be strong like me. And I know that I’m not the strongest person in the world, but for what I’ve been through? It’s good enough for me.

-Alexandra Drake

Just One Yesterday

Just one yesterday, I was looking through clear glass at stars. Today, a smog filled sky. There are no stars where I stood. And I doubt there will ever be again. My thoughts were a jumbled mess. I thought of so many things, but couldn’t focus on any. Then your eyes came to mind. Big and bright and so full of hope for a better tomorrow. My heart lay shattered in a thousand tiny pieces, ready to float away with a slight breeze. I let the note you left me drift to the ground. On it inscribed “Hope you have a better tomorrow.”

—Ally Moyer

If I Could Remember

If I could remember the way you smiled.

If I could remember you and mom laughing and carrying on like parents do.

If I could remember how funny everyone tells me you were.

If I could remember how much you loved my mom.

If I could remember you holding me when I was little.

If I could remember how close my family once was.

If I could remember you calling me your little diamond.

If I could just remember how much I was a daddys girl.

If I could just remember my dad.

But I was just too young to remember when you passed away.


I am From the Brick House

I’m from the brick house at the of the street, and the newly built cedar-shingle in Doe Run Hills.

I’m from pork and sauerkraut at Gma’s and vegetable bihon at Gpa’s.

I’m from the beautiful city of Prague, and a small town in Germany.

I’m from winning 1st place at Ganogathon four years in a row.

I’m from the delicious smell of bacon rousing me from sleep.

I’m from yelling the words to every country song on the radio.

I’m from late night adventures with my best friends.

I’m from watching the sun set from a paddle boat for longer than I can remember.

I’m from kayaking for miles and hiking long trails.

I’m from “cheer up there is always a reason to smile.”

“Sometime I Wake Up at Night…”

Sometimes I wake up at night, whether it would be the cat, or a nightmare, either way I get some time to think and drink. I’ve never had a taste for alcohol so I usually just split a bottle of milk with the cat. With time to quell in the darkness I hesitate, maybe I head for the roof-top garden of my private apartment. I stare at the shadows and lights of the city. My building is the only one that is dark completely. I think about my life or the past or even the coming future.

Did you ever think of life as a story but you weren’t the main character? I feel that thought painfully and thoroughly as it courses through my head every one of those nights. I’ve felt that my story is not one to tell, a reader wouldn’t want to read past the first chapter, it’d be too sad.

They say memories are nice but that’s all they are, but I say memories are burdens that weigh down life. My memories, I won’t talk about here, not now and hopefully never again. Maybe someday I’ll have some change in my life, and maybe the nightmares will stop too. I wonder…

When I Was Little

When I was little my dad let me sit on his lap when he mowed.

When I was little I threw my fish behind my dresser. (I never got it out from behind there.)

When I was little I fell through the pool when it had the tarp on and I could have drowned.

When I was little my mom told me that I climbed the fridge. She referred to me as a terror on legs.

When I was little I would go down the main road on my own.

When I was little we would throw our carved pumpkins across the road down to the railroad tracks.

When I was little I would dress to match my sister on purpose. (She hated me for it.)

When I was little I would dream about my build-a-bear rudolph shooting my dad.

When I was little I would be downstairs in the pantry before my dad went to work in the mornings.

When I was little I slept with my parents in their bed.

When I was little everything was different…

By: Jakie Houser

True Farming

Many people believe that farmers are just hicks, rednecks, and FFA and 4-H kids.  They think that we all have cows and that we just grow corn.  Not once do they think about what the world would be like if there was no farming.   Without farmers there would be no food.  I know it is a shock.  Your food doesn’t start at Kellogg’s or Jimmy Dean.  It starts on the farm.  It is tended and nurtured to grow right from the ground if it is a crop.  If it is the animal the farmers raise it from the time that it was born.  We don’t abuse or hurt them, we just care for them.  We work from the first rays of light until it is completely dark.  We don’t just sit on a tractor and back up the roads.  We work with our hands and do a lot of physical work.  We work to put the food on your table.  So dont sit there with your mouth full and tell me farming is worthless and that we are all the same.  We are all different but we all have similarities.  Believe it or not we are similar to you too.  We aren’t our own species.  We are human just like you and we make a difference in the world.

I am From

I am from blocks and sidewalks to farms and fields.

I am from Lakemont and Delgrosso’s to Farmer’s Fair and The Pickle Drop.

I am from Washington Jefferson to Northern and from Northern to Marticville.

I am from Altoona to Dillsburg and from Dillsburg to Conestoga.

I am from two new beginnings. Continue reading

Where I’m From

I’m from the smell of freshly cooked brownies when I get home from school.

I’m from Lancaster, PA and Penn Manor.

I’m from my mom playing her old music at home.

I’m from my dad’s saying, “Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.”

I’m from biking down to the park with my neighbor, Cody.

I’m from keeping my personal belongings in a locked toolbox.

I’m from in elementary school building a block city in kindergarten.

I’m from sledding down a hill and running into a snowmobile.

I’m from waking up on the kitchen floor with paramedics around me and my mom’s tear filled face.

I’m from being giggle brothers with Michael in Mr. Joyce’s class.

I’m from having great days with my best friends at Ambush.

I’m from sitting in English typing an I’m from poem.


When Spring Arrives…

I am looking forward to spring because I love warm weather and flowers. I like seeing things grow and little plants become flowers. I love seeing the sun and staring at the clouds. I like hearing and seeing birds and feel the sun on my face. I even like seeing all the rain we get during spring. I love to play outside while its raining and get all wet, it’s warm and the rain is cool.

I am From…

I’m from post WW1 immigration from Germany.

I’m from Camp Susquehannock, a sports camp, since I was six.

I’m from getting caught with Jace Cubberly-Tomas, and being told “I told you so” by Brandon Shafer.

I’m from telling many inside jokes at camp.

I’m from telling ghost stories to scare juniors at camp.

I’m from literally fighting over my grandmother’s pumpkin pie.

I’m from BBQs on weekends with my dad.

I’m from crazy illnesses plaguing me when I drive up to my grandparents.

I’m from two months spent making money and playing sports.

I’m from hot summer Sundays spent laying around on a plywood bed.

I’m from a dreadful night spent in a sickening hospital.

I’m from no siblings and now one parent.


As the train comes around the bend, it picks up speed. It goes so fast the colors all blend together. The people inside all sit and stare blankly out the windows. All they think about is going home after a long day at work. As the train comes to a stop, everyone gathers their things and gets ready to get off the train. As I start to stand I see my family waiting for me.

I’m home at last.

Where I Come From By: Samantha Margaret

I come from the ‘Amish town’ Lancaster County.

I come from my first concert being Toby Keith.

I’m from Deb and Mike, Honer and Whitton.

From the neighborhood kids fighting over which game to play.

To listening for my mom to yell for me to come in.

Being the baby of the family, so I got beat up by my ‘broder’ and ‘sissy’.

From country music, to living across from the ‘no trespassing in these woods’.

To every man in my family being in the U.S. Air Force at some point.

From 16 cousins and too many birthdays to remember.

To going mudding in my Pop-pop’s jacked up truck.

From bonfires, cook outs, and camping out.

To having to share a room with my 17 year old sister and her baby girl, before.

Those Wildwood vacations every year, and always having long talks.

To helping my cat deliver six kittens, in my own closet.

To ‘be quiet, dad’s sleeping!’

From fights, make ups, laughter, sadness, happiness, and every other emotion.

From ‘you’re only a baby’, to ‘you and Kyle are gonna get married’.

It’s sweet tea, sheppard’s pie, and a whole lotta love in such a little house.


Personal Memoir

Occasionally I can’t hear even my own thoughts. Everything races through so abnormally fast, that an individual thought doesn’t last more than a split second. That’s why I write. Why not just place the things in my head on paper? Seems logical enough. I can honestly say that I despise the word, “hobby.” Every single year, without fail, the teachers, and I literally mean every teacher, asks, “what are your hobbies?” Personally writing, to me, isn’t a hobby, it’s my passion. When I can’t think straight, I pick out of my pool of randomized thoughts, what inspires me. I’ll be completely honest, my inspiration today was my over excitement/disappointment towards this guy. He’s literally taking over my thoughts. His name is up there floating around with the verb endings of french. My head would probably be a rather frightening area to encounter actually. There is legitimately so much going on. It’s kind of like this:

Picture a mariachi band attempting to out play a punk rock group, with a trio of dancers trying to learn a new number, and the cast of Dance Moms screaming 24/7. It’s rather insane from time to time, but that’s how I prefer it. When my thoughts aren’t going insane, it’s simply, well, awkward. Even now, while I just sit here, my thoughts seem at an all time high. So when asked why I write, usually my response is something like this:

Writing isn’t a hobby, it’s a way of life. Why do you breathe?  

–Angie Wood

How My Attitude Reveals Who I Am

My attitude isn’t always positive. Sometimes I am in a bad mood and give people the worst attitude. But when I talk I will always have an attitude no matter what. I don’t care what people think. I will say and do what I want. People always tell me I have an attitude, so I guess that shows me and who I really am. Everybody has to stand up for themselves.


That Day

I will never forget the time when my parents got divorced at such a young age, all I know is that I was in a rage. You know things aren’t right and thats why me and my family are so tight. I was so mad that day I didn’t have anything to say we all took it hard but there is nothing you can do but just sit there and say to yourself that this isn’t fair. My one sister took it harder than all of us but we all still have a lot of trust, nothing will be the same with my mom and dad that day was just so sad, we were all mad but everything is okay now since we’re older but that feeling when my parents got divorced will never be smoldered.


A Personal Memoir (anonymous)

It all started when I was 6 years old in the summer before kindergarten. My sister, Rachel and I took the safety rails off my top bunk. “Lets play barbie!” Rachel screamed. We went on a journey through our closet, tearing boxes out. Looking for the box marked “Barbies.” After about 15 minutes of moving boxes we finally reached it. We tore the box out and moved to a clear space. Rachel broke off the lid and searched for her favorite one. “ I call this one!” She called loudly as she climbed up the wooden steps that came with our bunk bed. I searched for mine and bounded up the ladder to the top bunk. I plopped on the bed and shifted my pillows. Tucking my pooh bear in, I turned to face my sister.

“What are we playing?” I asked curiously.
“ How about what we played last time?” Rachel responded, excitement in her voice. I nodded and We let our vivid imaginations run free. At one point, Rachel’s doll kills mine, but I didn’t want the game to end.
“Aha” I laughed, waving the doll in her face. “ I’m not dead”
Rachel’s face turned red. A simple game of barbie turned into a competition. “Yes you are!” Rachel Screamed as she took the doll out of my hand and threw it off the bed. I stormed down the ladder and tore angrily through the clutter. I found it! I climbed back up the steps in an angry rage.
“I am not” I retorted
“Yes you are!” She argued back. We argued back and forth for five minutes.
That’s when it happened. She pushed and I started my four foot fall to the ground. I clawed the air for support as the purple walls spiraled around me. I saw the ground getting closer and closer. I closed my eyes and braced for the pain. I felt a drift of wind pick up my blond hair from my neck. Suddenly, I felt the Impact as I landed on my side. I sat up and lifted my arm to inspect the damage. The two bones popping out of my wrist led to a flood of tears running down my face and repeated screams to “mommy”.  I sat on the blue rug and looked up to see my sisters framed by her blond hair, her small face, tilted down in astonishment.
“Mom!” I screamed one last time as more and more tears flowed down my face. I heard rushed steps up the basement steps, followed by a  slamming door. “What’s wrong?” My mom said out of breath.

I stood up and pointed to my arm. My mom rushed and got ice then, followed many calls to people. First, My mom called her cousin, who was a nurse. She picked up the phone once again, dialing a new number, she talked for a few minutes, saying “ Thank you”, and hanging up. I gently lifted the ice pack, revealing purple bruises. I felt disgusted and quickly released the ice pack before my mom saw. Before I knew it, she grabbed the ice pack off my arm.

“ Come on, we’re going to the doctor’s!” Mom said lifting me off the couch.
Finally, we arrived at the doctors and I was rushed into a room in the back. We waited for the doctor to come and take x-rays of my arm. As soon as he arrived he took us to the x-ray room and put a heavy piece of cloth to protect me from radiation. About twenty minutes later he arrived with weird cast making material. “Hold out your arm like this.” He instructed me. He told me to pick out  a color. I looked at the two colors carefully, “Pink or blue?” I asked myself. I sat up excited and picked the blue. He then started to make the cast, first the cloth then, the blue casting material. After a while, I noticed the cast was getting harder. When, I discovered I couldn’t move my arm, another steady stream of tears started down my cheeks. The following six weeks were full of experiences and realizations.