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Best of the Week 2018-2019: Excellence in College Prep


Congratulations to Josh Kerekes '21 (left) and Dominic Ialacci '19 (right) whose works from their fall Creative Writing course, taught by Film and English teacher Ms. Lydia Munnell, were selected to be published in the Lake Erie Ink's 2019 Teen Book Project: Illusions and Reality. This anthology, produced by Belt Magazine, will feature works from 6th-12th graders throughout Northeast Ohio. Josh's short story, "Ten Years Ago," and Dominic's poem, "Crash," will be featured among other works of poetry, fiction, non-fiction and art that focus around the theme of illusions and reality.

Josh's short story drew inspiration from the video game Red Dead Redemption 2. "The theme for my piece was to tell a story that makes you remember another story or another time in your life," says Josh. "My first draft just told the story as I thought of it, but when I revised it, I was able to play around with the storytelling more to make it a better and more interesting story. Throughout the Creative Writing course, I learned different ways to tell a story and blend things together so the reader can visualize the story and picture it in their heads."

Here is an excerpt from Josh's short story, "Ten Years Ago":

We slowly went through the forest. The sun was now up in the sky high enough it lights up the trees. We were looking through the forest. Birds chirped in the early morning. The leaves glistened from the light of the sun and water rippled in the river nearby.

"Father, there is nothing here," he said.

"Patience my boy, animals will come," I said. "Let us climb up the hill and go look at the rest of the valley, come," I told Dutch.

We got to the top of the hill and saw the beautiful forest. I was looking around when I saw a fire in the distance. I thought about that night. The night I lost almost everything. I began to feel angry and then sad. Dutch looked at me and noticed the emotions on my face.

"Pa can you tell the rest of the story now?" Dutch asked.

I looked down at Dutch and patted his head.

"We went into town to rob a bank..."

Dutch cut me off, "So we are the bad guys, that's why we are always running?"

"To them we are criminals, thieves, bandits, but we did what we had to..."

"Josh is only a sophomore, but he has a seriousness as a student and writer that seems to transcend his age," says Ms. Munnell. "His writing is otherworldly and his stories are concerned with conjuring an atmosphere that feels like it comes from a much earlier period. He cracked this story wide open when he decided to tell it as a frame tale - with the father's backstory braided throughout this present story of survival. For a lot of young writers, they're still figuring out how a straight-ahead narrative works. Josh was able to scramble this complex short story in a way that made the past and present speak to each other."

Similar to Josh's short story, Dominic was also inspired by video games and films from his childhood to write his poem. "My major focus when writing this poem was to convey the idea of how humanity would react to an apocalypse, an end with no escape. I tried to explore the different ways in which people would react to 'the end,' not just a generalization," says Dominic. "I really learned the importance of creating vivid images whenever you tell stories. It's important to give the readers something to mentally picture. Imagery is everything. When people read this poem, I want them to understand that 'the end' is never far off. We may not see it coming nor know when it'll happen. Many people may not be ready to meet 'the end,' but it's important to cherish the life you have, protect it, and have no regrets."

Here is an excerpt from Dominic's poem, "Crash":

Everyone watched in awe and fear

The moon itself, crumbling and decaying

Fell to earth, slowly like a heavy snowflake.

The sky ran crimson red, The air itself was bleeding out

And gasping its final few breaths.

Some stayed behind, They grabbed their loved ones

Spending what little time they had left

In embraces that seemed to convey a cavalcade of emotion.

Saying the things they wished they had said sooner

Muffled in the arms of one another.

Many tried to run, They fought and hurt one another

The streets were lined with abandoned homes

Memories and dreams flowed into gutters,

Replaced with fear and desolation

But in the end, none of that mattered...

"Dominic is a great, witty writer in film classes, but I didn't fully appreciate his ability to turn a phrase and his command of language until I read his poetry and short fiction," says Ms. Munnell. "He has a sense of pacing and an ability to describe things in a way that's both beautiful and visceral. He's also a strong reader and listener - he knows how people employ language across a variety of media and he's able to recreate it beautifully."

You can read the full versions of Josh and Dominic's works in Lake Erie Ink's 2019 Teen Book Project: Illusions and Reality which will be published in Spring 2019.

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