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2021 Writing Contest Awards

Over 20 Wausaukee Students (grades 3-12) participated in our 2021 writing contest.  These students shared creative literary works about places they'd like to travel to.  The submissions we received were fantastic!  Ranger Alumni selected the grand prize and finalist awards (below).


Great job, Wausaukee Students!  Alumni Judge Marie Martini '67 shared this sentiment: "All the selections reflected thinking about the topic and articulate writing. I genuinely enjoyed hearing the voices of these students. Thank you, teachers and kids. These young writers are getting excellent preparation."

Grand Prize Winners

Pura Vida

by Autumn S.

High school winner

Mackinac Island

by Madison F.

middle school winner

Amazon Rainforest

by Skylar M.

elementary school winner

Visiting Belgium by Mikeal S.

New York City by Trinity W.

Pura Vida

by Autumn S.

High school winner

Volcanoes a contradictory theory to life

            Bringing destruction, yet having trees and life grow up the flank

Rainforests that seem to go forever

            All types of life, brewing under the shade

Waterfalls, jumping from the rocks

            As water droplets ricochet off the jagged bottom

The turquoise waters, lap the beaches

            Whisking away the footprints left behind

            Whisking away the signs of life

            Whisking away the stories told

Cerro Chirripó looms over the people

In the Talamanca Mountains

The hot springs sitting, nested between the rocks

            Each spring hotter than the last

                        Scorching your skin red         

A few bringing tears to your eyes


The breeze has a sense of vigor

            Perhaps it’s from the plants

            Perhaps it’s from the mountains

Sea salt fly through the coastal wind

            Making it a salt shaker

The smell of coffee, and chocolate

            All originating from the plantations

The taste that’s on the tip of your tongue


            It’s sweet yet remarkably bitter


The chocolate made from fresh cocoa beans

            It isn’t quite as dark as coal 

The coffee, that is in everyone’s mouth

            There beans grew in the neighbor’s backyard 

The black beans and rice, regularly find an invitation to your plate

            As being a staple on the menu


The churches are all made for their king

            Made with soft colors

            And with the intention to be worshipped in

Figures of their faith

            Hanging in the backdrop 


The houses made from everything

            From tin to wood

Seeming so unkempt

            But, it all falls together perfectly

The buildings in the city

            Metallic and proud

Not caring that they are out of look place,

            Standing taller than others


In the same city cars zoom past

            Making it a game to see who they can hit

Spotlights turn red

            Vendors coming to your windows

                        Trying to make a quick buck 

                                    Before the light turns green

Because in this world you need a quick buck 

To make a living 


The people sun kissed, and golden

            With dark eyes and hair

No one is in a hurry here

            In this rural area 

                        Walking place to place

                                    Taking in the day

The parks filled to the brim

            With all variations of age


The slow drawl of voices carry out to the sea

            Speaking in a different language 

                        Known to the natives

Their own unique way of chatting

            With usual slang 

The people of Costa Rica cry

            “¡Pura Vida!”

The air the same as the first day of the world

            So clean, and fresh

                        If the Earth could give birth

                                    This place would be the baby

Everywhere your eye can see is green

            This part of the world, not knowing deforestation

The warmth on the breeze overbearing

            Ready to suffocate newcomers 

Water teeming from surfaces

            Acting as a cooling agent 

Everything seems so alive

            Listen close enough to hear the thumping heart 


The trees shoot upwards like child that just hit a growth spurt 

            Standing tall and proud

Flowers blooming in an array of colors

            Seemingly the brighter the better

The leaves greener than emeralds untouched by man

            Lush and filled with life

The plants all seem overjoyed

            As they soak in the sun rays for half a day

Slight texture to each and every sprout

            Rough, fine, leathery, and smooth

Found in all different shapes

            Toothed, compounded, spear-shaped, round 


Toucans fly over the heads of awestruck strangers 

            Colorful light reflecting from the feathers

Tree frogs, hop from seedling to sapling

 Watching and waiting 

Making sure to stay in the shadows

Ants busily cross the ground

            Picking things up to bring to their queen

Sloths hang down from a branch

            Watching the world through their slow paced eyes

Lizards scurry on past, trying their best not to be caught

            Running up, down, and across things

Monkeys swinging from branch to branch

            Hooting and hollering to one another

Jaguars slinking in the trees

            Waiting to see their next meal


The sunbeams are reaching through the clouds       

            Trying to grab a hold of any life form 

The humidity makes everything stand on end

            Tightening your airways

                        Making every breath an accomplishment 

The heat intense, and unforgiving

            Wondering who is going to be their next victim


Then come the rain drops

            Pitter pattering away

Trying to take away some of the intensity 

            Wanting to help

The droplets sticking to the leaves

            Racing each other as they fall

As if the raindrops know they’ve done their job

            Wanting to catch a break


All that happens above ground,

            Is almost the same as under water

The color fish all hustling under the water

            As if they are trying to get to work

                        As if they have places to be

The turtles bravely hunt the fish

            As if it’s a dangerous quest 

Mackinac Island

by Madison F.

middle school winner

Name Poetry tells about the word. It uses the letters of the words for the first letter of each line.
In this case, I took three words I would describe Mackinac Island and try to relate things you
would see and do into those words. Also, I would not want to write about anywhere else in the
world because going there was better than anywhere else on the earth. I would also call myself
a virtual globetrotter because I love going on google maps.

Mackinac Island
Everything brings you to the 1800s
More around every turn
Old but new
Ride in horse-drawn carriages
Automobiles prohibited
Buy the fudge it is to die for
Lilacs at the Lilac Festival
Everything you plan to do there is worth it

Historical buildings
Island from the 1600s
Seven-year war won the island over to the British
Tossed to the Natives to the French then the British last to the present-day United states
Originated from the Ojibwe word “Mishimikinaak” or “Mitchimakinack,” which means “Big Turtle.”
Real forts on the island
Icy glaciers formed the beautiful place we call Mackinac Island
Cemeteries, the Fort Mackinac Post Cemetery is the oldest since the 1820s
Artifacts of Native Americans
Landing of the British on July 16-17 1812

Blast from the past
Round Island Lighthouse damaged and fixed in 1995
Eagle Point Cave is larger than Skull Cave
Arch Rock was naturally made from limestone and carved from glaciers
Trinity church was made in 1882
Historic Mission Church oldest surviving church in the state of Michigan
The Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House and Insect World was the 1st live exhibit in MI
Anne’s Tablet offers a shrine and a view of the Straits of Mackinac
Kayak tours take you in a kayak and tour around the island
Ice cream is one of many great foods to eat on the island

Never-ending fun
Grand Hotel has the world's largest porch

Amazon Rainforest

by Skylar M.

elementary school winner

 Do you love animals? If so, Amazon Rainforest would be the place for you. I Want to go to the Amazon Rainforest to hike, see new animals and try new food.


When I'm hiking I want to see parets ,cocktails,toucans,love birds,parakeets and more. I want to see those birds because they are pretty. Also I want less energy when I go back to my hotel.


 Another thing I want to see is waterfalls like Kaieteur Falls and Gocta Waterfall there. Also I want to go swimming in the waterfall. Also I want to go take pictures there and have a picnic there.


 Did you know that you stay a whole entire day in the cave called Maruaga Cave? Well you can and if you do go to maruaga cave you should bring this stuff a swimming suit, towel, sandals, sunscreen, insect repellent, cash, closed-toe shoes. Also you are not allowed to bring luggage or a large bag. You can also get a hotel pickup and drop-off and you can have lunch there. There is a guide to and soft drinks but no alcoholic drinks.  Therefore hiking in the Amazon Rainforest would be fun to see birds, waterfalls and caves.


Another reason why I want to go to the Amazon Rainforest is to see new animals. One animal I would like to see are snakes because snakes are beautiful. Another animal I would like to see is a poison dart frog because they are beautiful and I want to capture one so I can see what it actually can do. One spider I want to see there would be the tarantula. There are a lot of cool animals to see in the Amazon Rainforest like snakes, poison dart frogs and new spiders.


One more thing I would like to do in the amazon rainforest is try new foods. Like coconuts because they are juicy and tasty. Also I would like to eat mangoes because they are creamy and sweet. One last thing I would like to eat there  would be squash  because it is sweet and healthy.


Don't you want to go to the Amazon Rainforest now? Well if you do then you can hike , see new animals and try new food.

Visiting Belgium

by Mikael S.

High school finalist

    If I could Visit anywhere in the world without restriction I would visit Belgium. With various landmarks and famous battles it’s a perfect location for anyone interested in history. It also has a number of interesting dishes and drinks to provide a different dining experience. Lastly they have some attractions that are grand and interesting to look at outside of historical knowledge.


    The main reason I want to visit Belgium is for its historical sites namely Passchendaele. Passchendaele is a small village located in Belgium that saw some of the most infamous combat of the Great War.


      I think it would be a great experience to not only see an important historical landmark but also to experience the local culture and landscape. Being able to walk through the weaving trenches and walk across the once desolate battlefield now filled with life and starting to recover from its wounds leaving only scars from the battle that once took place there.


     Belgium has more battles than Passchendaele including the famed battle over in flander's fields. Not only is this a famous historical sight but also the inspiration for plenty of poetry as that was a common hobby of the common soldier. This is not to mention the battles in the Ardennes in either world wars or the Argonne and the lost battalion along with several Medals of Honor with it. Even going outside of the world wars Belgium is filled with ancient castles whose intriguing architecture and tactics used with it for its defense.


      Belgium has a museum of military history which is great for me because I find that to be among the most interesting kinds of history. This unlike the historical battlegrounds would display better preserved items from the battles as well as more modern and delicate equipment such as planes (another area of great personal interest).


     The food served in Belgium is also very interesting from the famed Belgian waffle to the lesser known boterhammen. The Belgians are also well known for their chocolate but also have other sweets like the rijstevlaai. Belgian food just sounds good and I feel I would have a good time eating the local cuisine.


      Belgium is home to several interesting tourist attractions such as the atomium, a museum modeled after an iron (ferrite) crystal containing exhibits of various topics of interest that periodically change and a restaurant inside the upper sphere. They also have mini-Europe which is a theme park built around miniaturization of popular European landmarks.


     So with dozens of sites both historic and otherwise Belgium is definitely near the top of the list of places to visit. Even under the circumstances that my list was unable to convince you it is by no means a complete list of things to be done, rather it is just mine. Belgium has a number of other interesting features like being the HQ of the European Union or the fact that it has three national languages. Thus concludes my paper on why I would visit Belgium and perhaps now so do you.

New York City

by Trinity W.

High school finalist

     The streets are swarming with people bouncing off each other like pinballs, trying to get to their destination. I stop and scan the street; all these people look so different from the people of my home town. There is a beautiful blue sky and beyond all the tall buildings, beyond the street lights, beyond the signs, you see the sky. So far up that you can barely see it. I start to look down back to the street. There is a strange man sitting in the alley way and he seems to be staring right at me, but I just brush it off without thinking too much about it. I look up and I see the huge signs and they are advertising so many different things. They show food and clothing brands and animal toys. 

     I look down to the road again and there are taxis picking people up. So many different cars driving down busy streets. There are white cars, blue cars and even pink cars! The cars are honking trying to get their way through the busy street. The bicyclists are trying to get across the street before the light turns green and the cars come zooming across the street. The old women are walking their fluffy dogs who are trying to get to the sausage they are smelling, pulling the women along the streets. The young women are window shopping walking down the streets trying to decide if the price is worth the piece of clothing that they want.

     I can hear my stomach rumbling. I can smell the hotdogs cooking at the hotdog stands. I can smell the pizza from the pizza place down the street where men are flipping the pizza crust right in front of the windows. I see women sewing in the small sewing shop, they smile at me as I stroll past, and I smile back giving them a small wave. I look over and there is the same man sitting at an outdoor restaurant looking at a newspaper, glaring over it right at me. I brushed it off again and went on with my day. 

     I look over and see the long bridge, it stretches out so far, it is almost hard to see. It looks like power poles stretching across the land. The Statue of Liberty sits in the middle of the beautiful blue coast; it stands so tall above the land guarding the lake like the astonishing woman she is. 

     The roads swerve and turn just like a snake; it almost looks like a puzzle. I am trying to figure out how to get to my hotel but these roads are just so confusing. I finally found my hotel, after almost an hour of searching. I look up and realize that it is huge, bigger than I thought it would be. I went into the hotel and they told me my room was on the 26th floor, room number 689. I get all the way to my room and look out the window. Looking at  the buildings, they are all different sizes, tall and small. Some standing so tall you can barely see the sky. Some of the buildings are so small they look like a needle in a haystack. The older buildings look like they could fall any second now and crush the whole town. I start to look at all the tops of the buildings, admiring how beautiful they look and I see the same man standing on top of a building really close. I thought that was kind of strange but I started to get tired. 

     The sun begins to set on the far side of the city and it covers the whole sky. The orange and red sky begins to fade as darkness begins to cover the beautiful sky, like a blanket over a child's head. The sun goes down farther and farther and the sky becomes dark. The city becomes bright and all the street lights and the building lights come on, it was almost like it wasnt night at all. 

     The streets seemed empty, they almost seemed scary or maybe even mysterious. I watch a stray dog cross the street and go to a nearby deli dumpster. Some old man walked to his apartment building, using his cane to help him. There was a group of strange men standing outside my hotel and one of the men seemed very familiar. I didn’t think much about it because it was a long day and I am most definitely tired now. 

     I start to get tired so I lay down to rest so tomorrow I can go and see the buildings filled with graffiti and I want to visit this small cafe I passed today, it seemed like the perfect place to read my new book. I slowly drift to sleep and start dreaming about all the things I saw that day, the beautiful sites and the wonderful people. There wasn’t one thing I wasn’t happy about; it was a beautiful day.

     I drift into a deep sleep and then suddenly I hear a loud crash, it was so loud it almost sounded like they were doing construction on the hotel. I suddenly wake up and jump out of bed looking around to try and figure out what is going on. I look around and realize there are two men standing at my door in the dark. One seems to be holding a baseball bat and the other one seems to be holding a bag. I blink and they come closer, one looks just like the man I saw all over town today and I started to get scared. I then rub my eyes hoping it is just a dream and then all of a sudden there is a black bag over my head and I’m screaming trying to get away from this suffocating bag and these horrible men but not one person in New York City can hear me. 

Where I Want to Go the Most in the World

by Andrew L.

middle school finalist

The place I want to go is Kodiak Island Alaska. The reason I want to go to Kodiak Island is so I can go grizzly bear hunting. I also want to go fishing and hiking. I want to be able to see the mountains, the glaciers,and maybe the Northern Lights.


The reason why I picked Kodiak Island is because it is a hotspot for grizzlys and grizzly bear hunting has always been my dream hunt. If i got to go I would take my grandpa, my grandma, my uncle, my dad, and my friends, Ernie and Gavin. The reason I would bring them is because they are all people that like to hunt and all of them except Gavin and Ernie went with me this year to Montana to mule deer hunt. They would all get a tag with me.


I never knew why I wanted to go grizzly bear hunting because I was told they don't taste very good, but I think I would try it anyways. I think it is cool how they look and how big they are and I think that it would be a cool story to tell that I personally shot a grizzly bear.


I would probably eat what I would catch and shoot so basically fish and bear, but I don't know how either of them would taste. I would also like to try squirrel, deer, and rabbit. I want to try a lot of things when we are in Alaska.


I would bring my 30-30 and my 6.5 creedmoor rifle,a backpack with a knife, 2 boxes of bullets for each gun, a camera for pictures, my phone, a duffle bag full of clothes, a tent, sleeping bag, rangefinder, binoculars, and about 20 coolers. These are all things that I think I would need to hunt and survive.


I would get the island by bush plane. We would get around by boat and on foot once weŕe there. We probably wouldn't go far from camp, we would just walk a few miles every day looking for bears. 



In conclusion, I want to go to Kodiak Island Alaska, to go grizzly bear hunting, fishing, and to spend time with my family.

Do you like sweet or spicy food? Then Japan is the place for you because it has a lot to study and a lot of new food to try and you can try the spices to add when you make steak. I want to go to Japan to try new foods, spices and study animals.


I would travel to Japan so I can study fish that are cool. I would like to study mussels because I want to see how they move. And I want to study the clams there so I can make pearls and I want to study starfish because then I can make things immune to water like a starfish.


The spices in Japan would be interesting to try because it would probably be different than what you would taste in flavor.  I want to try the spices because I like different flavors and it would be decent to whatever  I eat with it and I'm hungry so I'll  take it.


Try the drinks and food there so I can watch warriors train in combat. look on mount alps Japan is very rich in sea life like crabs clams slugs starfish and mussels and you can eat ramen noodles and sushi and sashimi and oden  and they have sweet and spicy sauce whichever you prefer  you can also get cool lights like a waving cat light now will end this goodbye and sayonara.

Roccos Travel to Japan

by Rocco L.

elementary school finalist

High School Winner
Middle School Winner
Elementary Winner
High School Finalist Belgium
Middle School Finalist
High School Finalist NYC
Elementary Finalist
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