Kaylee’s Project, 2008 First Place Junior Youth

By Aurora Cossairt

“Settle down, class,” said Miss Matasha. “Now as you all know, your report cards are going home in five weeks, and according to most of your progress reports,” she announced looking directly at me “You won’t be to happy with your Social Studies grade. I decided since we’re in Fourth Grade now and it’s essential to learn as much as possible about Idaho and its history,” she paused and looked around the room. “I’m giving you a second chance.”

Many of us had been holding our breath. We let it out with a sigh.

“Now then,” she continued, “let me tell you you’re assignment. The Governor of Idaho made a big mistake 3 weeks ago. He had been up late finishing paperwork. He didn’t get much sleep so he was very tired for his …” She stopped and glared at some boys who were whispering. They stopped whispering and Miss Matasha went on. “he was very tired for his meeting the next day.”

A girl named Isabelle raised her hand and asked “Who was he meeting with?”

“Well, Isabelle, the Governor was meeting with the Governor of Virginia.” The whole class oohed and ahhed.

“Everything was going well until the Governor of Virginia asked  what Idaho meant to our Governor. Well, he was so tired that he just said a criticize about Idaho he had heard the day before.

“What did he say?” asked my friend Chelsea. Miss Matasha sighed. “He said that Idaho was just some silly farming territory.”

We all gasped. “That’s not what Idaho is like!” I exclaimed.

“Yes Kaylee but the Governor was so tired that that was what he said.” Answered Miss Matasha “Unfortunately many people are starting to believe him. Now then children, your assignment is to prove that what our Governor said by accident is inaccurate and to make people more interested in Idaho than disgusted. You could put together a play on Idaho history, make signs out of poster board that have pictures of butterflies or flowers to show some of Idaho’s nature, write poems about our culture, volunteer at soup kitchens to show that we have a big heart, or think of something yourself.

This sounded great except for one little thing. I started to raise my hand but just then Miss Matasha said, “Yes Andrew?”

“It’s Andy.”  He reminded her. “Can we work in a group?”

May you work in groups Andr… uh I mean Andy. Meanwhile, yes, you may. And the winners of the contest will each receive a gold badge and be on television with the Governor. ” The class oohed and aahhed again. “You have one month.” she finished.

I put my hand down and smiled. That meant I could work with my friends Chelsea, Layla, Mary Ann, Hannah, and Elsie. With the six of us working together, there was no doubt we would win. I had known Mary Ann since I was a baby, Hannah since daycare, Chelsea since preschool, Elsie since Kindergarten, and Layla since the first grade.

We all have nicknames too. Layla is Bubble Gum, Chelsea is Candy Cup, Hannah is Cotton Candy, Mary Ann is Joy Bird, Elsie is Butterflies, and I’m Soda Shop (partly because I spend so much money on sodas).

Just then the lunch belle rang. Miss Matasha excused us to go get our lunches and line up at the door. On nice days, like today, Miss Matasha permits us to eat our lunches outside. I went to get my sanitizer and my notebook and then went to sit with my friends on the sun warmed brick steps. We had brick ramps for people in wheelchairs too, but the ramps were less steep.

After asking God to bless our food we opened our lunch bags. After six months of carrying my lunch in ripping brown paper bags, I finally had my own cloth lunch bag, just like all my friends.

I opened it up and took out my lunch. I had a turkey sandwich with lettuce, American cheese, and mayonnaise, Doritos, an apple, a bottle of raspberry lemonade, and a sugar cookie for dessert.

Hannah was unhealthily skinny. So she had a peanut butter (which is fattening) and jelly sandwich, a pear, a bottle of strawberry lemonade, and some strawberries for dessert.

Layla had an apple, a mini veggie platter, a granola bar, a bottle of lemonade, and some marshmallows for dessert.

Mary Ann had a container of spaghetti, a container of yogurt, a bottle of limeade, and a slice of cheesecake for dessert.

Chelsea had a slice of pineapple pizza, a mango that was cut up into slices, a mini veggie platter, a bottle of fruit punch, and a container of blueberries for dessert.

Elsie had some takeout fried chicken, two biscuits, a bottle of Hawaiian punch, and a cupcake for dessert.

After we had all had a few bites of our things Chelsea said, “Well, I think this is going to go great. We‘ve all heard at least a million stories about our relatives growing up in Idaho, or about them moving and starting a family in Idaho, or about them growing up in other states and hearing about Idaho.”

“Yeah, but what can we do?” asked Hannah “You make it sound so easy to win. I don’t know if it will be. And like I said before, what project would be so great anyway?” “ I think Candy Cup’s right.” announced Mary Ann. “We have what it takes. We have friendship, family, brains, and like she said, we have enough stories to fill a book!”

I stopped chewing at that. “A book. That’s it!” Everybody looked at me.

“What’s it Soda Shop?” asked Layla

“A book! Don’t you get it?” I exclaimed “Mary Ann said that we could fill a whole book with stories!”

“Yeah,” said Elsie “So…?”

“Don’t you see? For our project, we find a lot of stories about Idaho, it’s history, and it’s people. And then we put all of the poems, and stories, and articles, and pictures, and biographies, and news into a big book!”

All the others nodded in agreement.

“That’s a great idea Kaylee!” exclaimed Elsie “The best one ever!”

“Great, except for one thing,” answered Layla

“What is it Bubble Gum?” asked Chelsea

“These days, books aren’t as popular as they used to or should be.” answered Layla coolly “Magazines are much more sellworthy.”

“Sellworthy?” I asked

“I guess I sort of just made that up.” said Layla blushing “It’s supposed to mean that it sells more. It’s more popular.”

“Okay then,” said Hannah. “We’ll put our stories, and photos, and poems, and news, and biographies, and articles into a magazine.”

“All right!” I exclaimed “This is going to work great!”

For the next three weeks we were hard at work, and my whole family helped too. Dad let me use his computer, Mom gave me an old, never used scrapbook to put our things in, the twins, Kyle and Kylee (age 5), gave me pictures to display and ideas for contests, Katrina (age 15) taught me how to use big words to make the project look very efficient, even Kevin the comedian (age 12) distributed some jokes.

When week four came, me and the other girls met after school to put our projects together.

“Gosh,” exclaimed Hannah “Mary Ann was right. We filled lots and lots of books!”

“And I even put in the story I wrote when I was 6. The one about the little girl who couldn’t see and how he described the world.” I said

“And listen to this story I came up with.” said Chelsea as she unfolded a story of a farmer boy who was mistreated and ran away from home and how he made a living.

Then Mary Ann told a story about a Boston girl moving to Idaho.

Elsie told a story about a fisherman raising a family in Idaho.

And Layla’s story was about a single mother and her eight kids fleeing from California to Idaho because of a shortage of money. It told about how she and her kids got along while being poor.

“Now there’s just one more thing we have to handle.” said Layla after she finished her story.

“What’s that?” asked Elsie

“We need a name.”

“That’s true.” Chelsea said nodding her head in agreement.

We all stopped to think of a name. Then ideas came buzzing out like bees.

“Young Person’s Magazine of Idaho?”

“Idahoan Digest?”

“Reader’s Necessity?”

Finally it was decided. Our group was called Idaho Magazine.

I shifted nervously from one foot to the other as we took our seats in the auditorium. One group would win many would not. And our group’s chance was one in a million. Would the judges like our ideas?

When everyone was seated, the Governor spoke to everyone about his mistake, the competition, and how proud and grateful he was to everyone who entered.

“So, the moment you’ve been waiting for,” he said finally “the winners of our Idaho contest. In tenth place, Project Gardener by Odette Kolten, Sarah Whinefrey, and Jamison Seaney.”

Those were some girls in our class.

“In ninth place,” the Governor continued “Farmer Boy Project by Roshawn Walters.” I didn’t know him.

“In eighth place, Project Idaho by Anabelle and Lily Woodbury, Rhiannon and Rubylynn Stapleton, and Shireen Bahadur.” I didn’t know them either.

“In seventh place, The Beggar Woman, a play by Nicole Rinaldi, Giovonneye Ross, Aleczandra Enriquez, Nathan Sturkie, Jordan Moe, Hayden Harvey, and Coby Hillier.” They were from another class at our school.

“In sixth place, The Soup Kitchen Volunteers by Lindsay, Alissa, and Tabitha Shaffer.” They were from our church.

“In fifth place, Project Nursery by Milton and Gracie Miller.” I didn’t know them.

“In forth place, Project Butterfly by Mesa and Jack Swanson.” I didn’t know them.

“In third place, The All Around Athletes by Caitlin Bishop, Kaitlyn Stroozas, Zoe Guidara, Benjamin Myers, Jay Bettinger, and Cooper Doke.” I knew them from my old preschool (but they aren’t in preschool anymore).

“In second place, Project Authors Express by Sasha and Sophia Williams, Trevor Hegon, Deanna Horton, and Ellie and Preston Zacharda.” I knew them.

This was it. The next name was the last. It was us or someone else.

“And in first place, the winner of our Idaho Contest. And the Winner is…” I’d held my breath. “Project Idaho Magazine by Kaylee Jariko, Elsie McConauhay, Layla Edwards, Hannah Saphire, Chelsea Van Sicklen, and Mary Ann Rosemary.”

The whole crowd applauded. It was the happiest feeling I ever had in my life as I walked up on the stage and shook hands with the Governor before receiving my medal along with my friends. When the clapping finally quieted down I looked out in the audience and saw my own family. They waved to me and I waved back. I smiled. I knew that our project would make a difference.

 

 

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