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Literacy and Arts Festival: The SCV

Winning Essays

Posted: March 29, 2010 11:09 p.m.
Updated: March 30, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Short Stories Division
First Place
“Waking Up in Santa Clarita”

My name is Nate and I’ve been living in the Santa Clarita Valley all my life. One summer morning I woke up very bored. My mind began to wander and I started dreaming of all the exciting things I could do in Santa Clarita.

I could have a great time hiking in the mountains at Towsley Canyon State Park, Vasquez Rocks or the Placerita Canyon Nature Center.

I could ride a rip-roaring roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain and then walk right next door to Hurricane Harbor to cool my body down.

I could meet my friends at Mountasia and have a wonderful time mini-golfing, go-carting, playing laser tag or destroying a huge ice cream sundae at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor.

I could go to the Westfield mall and check out all the cool stores, grab a bite to eat at one of the restaurants, or just hang out with my friends. Later on in the day I could head over to the movie theater and catch the latest movies.

I could enjoy myself at any of the valley’s high schools who always have some kind of sporting event to watch. Hey, you never know if you will be watching a future professional athlete.

I could ride my bike with my friends on the miles and miles of bike paths. I could grab my skateboard, helmet and knee pads and head over to the brand new skate park.

Oh, and how could I forget the Aquatic Center and the really cool pools and water slides.

Then there is good old Castaic Lake where I could go water skiing, tubing or just relax and go fishing.

I could sign up in one of the many sports leagues and play any sport such as football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey or any other sport a kid could dream of.

Then there is my dog Roman, who loves a trip to Central Park where he has his own special area to play with and meet new friends.

After all these fun and exciting things to do, I’d be as hungry as a horse. I’d have a tough time choosing because Santa Clarita has the best restaurants I have ever been to.

Well, with all these exciting things to do and summer vacation only being eight weeks long, I better wake up and start having some fun.
Nate Racina
Stevenson Ranch
Elementary School

Second Place
“What Santa Clarita Means to Me”

Santa Clarita. Those familiar two words often pop up like gophers in my head. But the question of what I think of Santa Clarita is not one that I often ponder until now. The more I thought of it, the more the answer came clear.

To me, Santa Clarita is sort of like a museum full of memories of me and the valley.

I think of a hard-working town worthy of applause. It should be praised for its many historic sites such as William S. Hart Park. I love it because of the park’s grade tree leaves, slowly falling and carried by the gentle breeze.

I think of Santa Clarita as the place I made my first friend. Talking and smiling with a look of great pleasure, we would run around a field chasing each other until we fell down laughing so hard we clutched our stomachs.

But most of all I think of it as home. The place I grew up in, went to school and did many things. Santa Clarita. Home.
Matt Martinez
Castaic Elementary School

Third Place
“The Beautiful, Santa Clarita Valley”

One sunny Saturday, I was walking my chocolate lab Roxy, when we turned the corner. I said to her, “Roxy you know why you are so pretty? Because you are in the Santa Clarita Valley.”

Our family got Roxy at an animal shelter, so we don’t know where she was born, but she is as beautiful and Santa Clarita Valley is too, so it has to be true. I decided to go to the park with Roxy, so she could have a little fun.

When we got to the park, she saw a golden brown squirrel out of the corner of her eye. Roxy turned her head and in full view of the creature, Roxy yanked her leash as hard as she could. I suddenly felt the rope burns start to form on my hand and arms and I had no choice but to let go of the leash. First, I thought to myself, “What was I thinking letting go of my dog and letting it run in a full sprint ahead of me?”

“Roxy, Roxy!” I hollered in fear. I quickly reacted and bolted after her.

Luckily, I spotted her and said what she usually came running for a dog — biscuit, biscuit, biscuit, who, who, who, food, food, food — but she never came to me.

Finally, Roxy came back to the sound of my voice. I was relieved that the chase was over.

I noticed the squirrel was now gone and nowhere to be found. I wasn’t worried though. Roxy and I didn’t know where to go next because it was black over our heads.

When we left the Santa Clarita Valley it was sunny, warm and with no breeze. It was now cold, very windy and cloudy.

Roxy and I were going to walk until there was no more clouds and just sun. We were walking and finally I could see something like a tree. So I started sprinting and finally I saw dozens and dozens of trees. When we arrived, I was out of breath. I then looked up at the sky and it was blue!

I looked at the ground and it was green and a slight breeze let me know that I was home!

Moral of the story: When finding your home, you just have to take one step at a time.
Brittany Ruffner
Stevenson Ranch
Elementary School

Short Stories Division grades 7-8
First Place
“Extra Credit #2”

Once upon a time a little girl named Haydin and her family lived in a house on Hopkins Place in Stevenson Ranch. Haydin loved her house, her friends, neighborhood, and the school she attended, and enjoyed all the activities such as hiking, boating, going to the movies, and going out to dinner. Everything in the Santa Clarita Valley, she loved.

On a beautiful spring day, she got the worst news of her life! The news did not make her happy and ruined her day. Sadly, her family had to sell their house and move to another area. Haydin was devastated. The thought of moving away from her home, school and friends was horrible. So many thoughts were going through her mind. Haydin was overwhelmed with fear, anxiety and sadness and was angry at her parents. The house on Hopkins was the only house she had ever lived in and her entire life was about to change.

Unfortunately for Haydin, the house sold immediately. This was horrible news to Haydin. How could Haydin’s parents be so happy while she was so sad? The entire family had to begin the process of packing. Haydin had to pack all of her belongings into boxes. Packing each box put tears in her eyes.

As the weeks of packing went by, her parents kept reassuring her. Haydin’s parents told her that this move was going to be good for the family and a new adventure. Because she was such a happy and social person, her parents said she wouldn’t have a hard time making friends; she would get used to a new house, a new school and a new neighborhood. But they still couldn’t decide where to move, which caused Haydin even more sadness. This was no adventure for Haydin.

On the last day of school Haydin said her last good-byes to her friends and neighbors because this was the last day in Stevenson Ranch, as she thought. But Haydin never stopped hoping that she wouldn’t have to move.

Haydin’s family enjoyed summer vacationing. Haydin didn’t understand why they weren’t looking for a house. Then one day over breakfast her parents broke the news. They found a new house! Haydin had mixed emotions, but they still didn’t know where the house was. Before she could say anything, she heard “STEVENSON RANCH!” Haydin’s mouth dropped wide open. She couldn’t believe her ears. It was true; she was so excited she was moving back to Stevenson Ranch in the Santa Clarita Valley.

As it turned out Haydin moved right down the street from her old house. The house was even the same floor plan, therefore she didn’t have to get used to a new house. She got to stay at the same school, and the best part was that she kept her old friends. She was so excited. The thought of moving was now gone.

The move she thought was going to be horrible turned out to be the best move ever. To this day Haydin loves her life in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Haydin Felan
Rancho Pico Junior High

Second Place
“Lightning Strikes Santa Clarita”

“It’s going, it’s going, it’s gone! Home Run!”

When I think of the Santa Clarita Valley, I think of all the sports available to kids here and how this valley really scores when it comes to opportunities for kid’s sports. Even more specifically, I think of my own travel baseball team, The Santa Clarita Lightning.

We have represented the Santa Clarita Valley for over 5 years in baseball tournaments throughout the state, and even in Nevada.

We look forward to representing Santa Clarita in Cooperstown this summer.

When I was 3 years old, I started playing the amazing sport of baseball for our local Parks and Recreation Center. At the age of five, I began to play William S. Hart baseball in the Santa Clarita Valley.

At 7 years old, I joined the Santa Clarita Lightning Baseball Club. My coaches, Gary Donatella, Rodger Salkeld and Jim Friery taught me the fundamentals of hitting and fielding.

When all of the players on our team first met each other, we knew we would be friends forever. After we had enough time practicing together, we entered the big leagues (or so it seemed to our little minds) of traveling baseball tournaments.

When we won our first tournament, it felt as if we had conquered the world. We were even playing kids who were a year older than us!

More tournaments passed and we continued to proudly wear our Santa Clarita Lightning jerseys — and win tournaments — one after the other. But even when we lost, we had fun.

Unfortunately, at one point I encountered a major flaw in my ability to play baseball ... my hitting.

Suddenly, whenever I got up to the plate it was as if I just couldn’t move my arms because I was so nervous. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t swing the bat.

With the help of my coaches and friends, we realized the reason why I couldn’t hit the ball was because I had a huge uppercut.

With a couple months of practice and a lot of hard work and patience by both my coaches and me, we corrected my swing and I was able to play baseball at a higher level once again.

In the past five years, The Santa Clarita Lightning has become a great team! It is funny because even when we play in tournaments as far away as Las Vegas, Nevada, there are still other Santa Clarita teams that we see or end up playing. They are often our best competition. This just goes to show that the Santa Clarita Valley has many baseball teams and coaches that encourage participation at a higher level.

All of the Santa Clarita teams are respectful and represent our city in a way to make its citizens proud. Currently, the Lightning is practicing so we can play competitively in Cooperstown, New York, this summer. My teammates and I are very excited and proud to represent our city in this adventure.

Now you may still wonder why this brief story really reminds me of anything that has to do specifically with the Santa Clarita Valley other than the fact it is on our jersey! When I was having trouble batting, I was still having fun playing baseball but it was frustrating. The ability to swing a bat well in baseball is vital to playing the game.

In the end, when I was able to hit decently again I became even better than ever before. I learned that sometimes overcoming a conflict and struggling through it can make you better. This city has also struggled through conflicts but always comes out better. I feel so lucky to have great coaches and support around me because I live here, in the Santa Clarita community. My coaches, teammates and I are proud to represent the Santa Clarita Valley in every game of baseball we play. I also feel very blessed to live here in the Santa Clarita Valley where I have such great opportunities to play sports. I sure hope to hit a home run for our valley when we go to New York this summer.
Griffin Armendariz
Rancho Pico Junior High


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