Mar 10
lorenyoung's picture

Emerald Ash Borer

The ash tree is a very important tree in Vermont’s landscape.  Ash have beautiful diamond-shaped bark patterns and they stand out in a forest due to their tall and straight lines. 

To me, ash trees are iconic. They make the Green Mountains green in the spring and summer, and turn to vivid orange hues in the fall. My dad and I find morel mushrooms growing in the nitrogen-rich soil at the base of our ash trees. They are known for having great, full tops, and bring good value in the timber market. Birds love ash trees because they are high enough to keep away predators, and deer rely on ash trees as they eat the buds off the young tops in the winter. 
Oct 13

College Essay Workshop -- Online Version

For those who couldn't make the YWP-VSAC College Essay workshop Oct. 14 (it was pretty awesome -- thanks to the seniors who attended), you can go to our online version. From now until Oct. 31, access resources, help & feedback. 


Oct 14
essay challenge: Skirts
asa's picture


It was October, but Margo was still wearing short summer skirts. While the leaves had begun to change color and fall to the ground, Margo was still holding out hope that summer might last a little longer. Possibly a warm week was to come, it would not be surprising as the weather in Vermont often plays games with us. Rather than abandon all hope of warmth and give in to sweater weather, Margo had decided to keep their summer outfits in rotation. Short skirts and tank tops until snow falls. Margo knew that when that warm week did come they would be ready while everyone else was scrambling to find some lighter garments.
Oct 10


I am, as they say, a romantic. I visualize such things in my head constantly, flowers and slow dances and nights spent beneath the glow of one hundred million stars. I play out scenarios in my mind — and have been doing this continuously since I was young, dragging out a particular story for days on end, creating backstories and betrayals and personality traits. I get attached to these characters I create, though I have never written them down—nor written about them—in my life. These beings, who live and breathe inside my skull, a pounding of my imagination set aflame by my willingness to allow it to flourish, are my greatest creation. Pen and paper are thought and muscle tissue, the edges of words scraped against my brain matter.
Sep 21
essay challenge: First Grade
Summit House-WCS's picture

First Grade

There it is, the big yellow school bus zooming down the road to pick me up for my first day of school! First grade was already here! This was an exciting day for me! Although, it was a scary day for me. We had just moved from South Burlington to Williston only 3 weeks ago. I was nervous about meeting new kids and teachers, even homework! But I brushed that aside and sat down in my bus seat number 6. I waved bye at my parents and we were on the road. And just like that, we arrived at my new elementary school. It was painted blue and it had big tall windows all around. The playground full of color was on the side of the building. ABS looks wonderful. 
Sep 21
essay challenge: Possession
Summit House-WCS's picture


One of the most important things in my life is my dog Sparky. I chose her because she can always find a way to put a smile on my face. For example, one time in baseball I missed a routine fly ball and gave up a run. Thankfully we still won the game. But I was still down on myself. So when I got home I was upset and then when I walked through the garage door there she was my cute dog sparky right there to greet me. Her tail was wagging like a lightning bolt. She licked my face a lot! It was kind of gross. But that's not the point.

Also during lockdown she was pretty much the only thing I could hangout with in person. So we spent lots of time together.  When I go to bed she is right there snuggling next to me all warm and joyful. Sleeping quietly, having a good dream about running most likely.
Sep 21
essay challenge: Possession
Summit House-WCS's picture


Being a super sentimental person, I would choose to keep all of my possessions. But one stands out in particular. A stuffed chihuahua. My favorite stuffed animal is a chihuahua named Sparkle. I got her as a gift from my grandmother when I was a little girl. Sparkle and I did, and are still, growing up together. One thing that makes Sparkle special to me is that she was a gift and not just something I asked my parents to buy me on a trip to the grocery store. Sparkle and I have been through pretty much everything together. We’ve thrown stuffed animal parties in my room, we’ve cried together and just hugged each other. She was always there for me, and I for her when one of us wanted to vent and have the other listen. Sparkle has always watched over me when I sleep, kind of like a guardian angel in a way. 
Sep 20
essay challenge: Possession
Emmadoesntread's picture


If I could choose only one of my many possessions to keep, I would choose to keep my phone. I would keep my phone since that way I could try to buy back my other possessions and I could also; Order food to keep me alive, Call family and friends and if there was an emergency I could call 911, and I could also get my entertainment from my phone. It makes sense to me to keep my phone, I get why others wouldnt choose their phone though. 
Sep 11
essay challenge: Folklore
vgilmore's picture

The Story Of Santa

When I was younger I was told Santa was real. Santa had a naughty list and a nice list and you had to have good behavior the whole year or you would be on the naughty list. If you got on the naughty list you wouldn't get any presents from Santa. Santa came every year and that was on December 24th. My parents always told me you have to be in bed at 8pm or Santa is not going to come because he doesn't come to see kids that are awake.
Sep 09


Today, in my Biology class, we started a unit on the base criteria that defines things as 'alive'. We were instructed, first, to make our own lists, with the assistance of our partners, and then we were to inspect the objects she had for us, and to define them the way we saw fit, what with our initial reactions and then with how it fit the criteria we had previously written. It was, in part, deathly boring, and I don't wish to go anywhere near another bush bean for a while, thanks. However, I learned enough. Really! I'm not so blase as all that. It was educational, but that doesn't mean it was interesting. However, even if the experience wasn't so scintillating, the course-material was mildly interesting. Interesting enough that I sat and thought about it for a while after.
Sep 08

Free Speech, Free Will, Freedom

I was asked once how I felt about speeches. If I enjoyed doing them, for one thing, and if I liked writing them, for another. I replied, simply, with, "Do I like to write them, or am I good at writing them?" That is the question. For a while afterward, she sat down and began to ponder this notion, blinking heavenward and lost in deep thought. At that moment, I swallowed hard, clenched my fingers together, and watched her. And, somewhere in-between the minutes of watching her, I forgot about our conversation altogether. I forgot about her altogether. And I began to think about more than just 'speeches' and 'likes' and 'dislikes'. I began to think about myself, and the things that I enjoy. I began to think about everything. 

No. I don't like doing speeches. They're absolutely terrifying. Especially if they're garnered toward one person, or if that one person is the only one in the room. Makes the whole thing too damn personable, really. 
Sep 07

Loss--Mine, Yours, And All Those Before

Recently, my freshman class began its annual "student council/student politicians" elections. I ran for president, my friend ran for secretary, another ran for Freshman Representative, and another went for Vice. I mean, I suppose I could count him as a friend. I guess he's more like an acquaintance, but that's beside the point. The point is, I lost. Apparently, since I couldn't go to school because of the COVID outbreak pertaining to the staff is making its way around, I lost badly. Or maybe not so badly, since the conversation I had with one of my friends went roughly like this. 

Me: Was it close?

Her: no

Me: Wow. Well, good for her.

Aug 29


I have lived in constant fear of the word "beautiful." Exceptional, no, unique, never, but any word that has ever described the state of my face? Every. Single. Damn. Time. It's a consistent, damnable struggle. And yet, whenever I seek the advice I so crave, the answer that I always hear only prolongs the spiral of my insanity, begins to turn the cycle of my self-deprecation. But I let it, and I listen to those who are kind enough to lend me their ears, their minds, their words.
Aug 13


I turn fifteen in exactly sixteen days. That, in and of itself, is terrifying. Difficult to explain, really, but I am a writer — that is my job — to explain, to entertain, to engage. And so, here I stand, holding my innermost pains out to you all. 

I may not be able to walk through those doors and breathe as I should — I have no conscience when it comes to my own heart, and so it may explode, painting my bones with dark blood — blue, until it spills out of me — just as I learned in school. I could not think of a better platform to express my fear, and so I have relocated my entire being to this website — packed up and left my bedroom and stored my soul in the curving edges of words — the slopes and curls and shelter I reach for in-between them. 
Jul 29

I Despise

This essay was incredibly difficult to write, and especially difficult to publish. Not because it's problematic to me--it isn't--but I am incredibly shy about it. It is the most I have ever poured into written word, and, as I say, stained the paper with my pain. Enjoy. However, this is a heavy subject, and I understand if you skip past. 

I despise the idea that I can be obtained. That someone, in their heart of hearts, wishes to capture mine, and hold it as their own; to curl their fingers around my ribs and pinch my chest open until the whisper of my breath against my bones is replaced by their love.

I despise the idea that I can be captivated, and so willingly, by newfound beauty, so enthralled that I am rendered utterly speechless, completely broken. I am an inadequate being, and I cannot be but seduced by lovely things—I am but human, and I cannot replace that feeling. 
Jul 26
Yellow Sweater's picture

New Pollen, Old Soil

Growing up, I didn’t realize there was such a thing as a conservative intellectual tradition, or, to be honest, even a moderate one. I assumed (in a similar vein to people on the far right) that all real thinking was being done outside the mainstream. In the bubble I was raised in, people read Noam Chomsky and Charles Eisenstein like the bible, attended conferences on Ecoterrorism and how to build your own permaculture communities, embraced the idea of defunding the police before it was an Instagram slogan. The New York Times was a fine place to get basic news, but if you wanted a real perspective you had to go to The New Republic or Mother Jones. Anarcho-Communism was not a radical ideology, rather a natural and necessary next step for human civilization. 
Jul 14
essay challenge: Freedom

The best kind of freedom

I suppose the best kind of freedom can be found in listening to old records, sitting alone in your room, a cool drink in hand, book open in your lap. You take a long sip of your drink, savoring the burn of carbonation as it goes down your throat, resting, dormant, in your stomach. The book is subsequently propped against your bare knees, pages flipping against your fingertips as you regain your place. The words, as they come, pull you in, (it's quite good, really) and before you know it, you've finished, and the light outside is waning, the moon gliding into view, taking the place of the sun. 
Jul 09

For now

I miss an incredible amount of people. Those who have left me, and those that have left. It's disappointing, I think, when someone we consider a friend--which, to me, is an extension of our souls--take a different path in some crossroads we find. I knew a family, once upon a time, that I barely recognize now. They've changed. My father and the husband had an awful fight, and they haven't spoken since then. My mother tries to keep the peace, and speaks to the wife often, (or, often enough to consider her a friend) but I miss the peace of driving along their dirt road, the trees and clouds and dust a lovely companion to my melancholy teenage loneliness. I still love her, I still love her children, I, even now, care deeply about her husband, their father, but this friendship, to be rebuilt, will take soul searching. The union of our hearts and minds, the agreement, clash, and then agreement again of our morals, will take time.


Every single person on earth is the embodiment of a different word. How would a society like this function? What would you be?
Jun 29
poem, essay challenge: Heat
Yellow Sweater's picture

The Earth and the Sun

I fall asleep reading about duende, reading, radiating duende. That’s what Lorca’s poetry does: it causes my grandmother’s pitched voice to tremble with a terrible softness, like the moon liquified and stored in a jar. God, I’ve used the word duende, the second most sacred name, so many times lately. I’ve used it to explain everything that can’t be explained. I hope I haven't cheapened it with desire.

The begonias are burning, I’m imagining them burning. They are pinker than my sun singed skin, so pink they are almost red. For a moment I trick myself into believing that the Spanish street names are more than an echo, that the baked brown hills of Santa Barbara are the Andalusian mountains Lorca rhapsodies over. As I trot down to the dust strangled creek, I feel a piercing, euphoric scream rising in my chest: Seville to wound! Cordoba to die in!