One of Learning Ally's YES! Program
a 14 year old from Colorado, placed among the top winners of the 2016 Karina Eide Young Writers Awards
by Dyslexic Advantage! We are so very proud.
"I did it!" Hannah exclaims, "this is a big deal for me because coming up with words, organizing, and writing is really hard for me, but I want my stories told!"
The YES! Program is a student-to-student mentoring group where older students who have dyslexia (ambassadors) are paired with younger students who also have dyslexia. They are guided through a journey of self-advocacy.
It is already a huge accomplishment to be an ambassador, but to win a national writing contest as well is truly wonderful! According to the Karina Eide Award application "works will be evaluated on the basis of storytelling ability, creativity, humor, and other aspects of excellent writing."
Here, in its entirety, is Hannah's essay titled Lola and the Blue Ghost:
Lola braced herself as she stepped into the large aluminum cooler at the world’s loneliest restaurant. As she reached for the creamer, a blue head popped out from behind the butter. Lola froze to the spot not knowing what was going on.
The blue head was attached to a similar blue body. It was definitely human except for the fact that it was floating, and you could see all the day’s fruits and vegetables through her. The ghost had long straight hair that moved unnaturally slow when the ghost moved from behind the butter. She looked country fashionable with tank top, jacket, jeans, and boots. She could have passed for anyone in town.
Lola trembled as she spun around and headed towards the door. The chills that went down her spine was not from the cold air. She could feel the ghost looking at her. As she reached for the door handle, the ghost put itself between her and the door.
“Can you see me?” asked the ghost.
“I am not exactly sure,” said Lola. “I have never seen anything supernatural, so I am pretty sure I am going insane.”
“You are not insane, that much I can tell you,” said the ghost. “But if you can see me that means that you can help me save this town.”
“W-What do you mean?” said Lola.
The ghost crosses her arms and lands on the floor. “I used to be a detective. My job was to work undercover and find out who was threatening this town. But then one day, when I got close to finding out who it was, well let’s just say, this is how I ended up.”
“You expect me to help you after you died in this case?” Lola asked.
The ghost nods her head. Lola closes her eyes, walks through the ghost to get out of the cooler. She turns to Betty, a fellow waitress, and asks, “Hey Betty, do you think I could take the rest of the day off? I am not feeling very well.”
“Sure thing Lola. We are slow today so it is no problem,” Betty said. “I hope you feel better.”
Lola walks out of the café and goes to her car. Sitting shotgun is the blue ghost. Lola nearly jumps out of her skin and asks, “What in the world are you doing in my car?”
“I still need your help to solve this case. It is not like I can ask any other person to help me,” the ghost said. “Besides I can definitely tell you want to be a detective.”
“That was just a silly childhood dream,” said Lola.
“OK, then how about this,” said the ghost. “You help me solve the case, and I won’t ever speak to you again. Do we have a deal?”
“Fine!” said Lola. “What is your name?”
“My name is Sarah,” said the ghost. “Let me fill you in on the details of the case. A business man wanted to turn your hometown into a huge resort. But when the mayor told him no, he vowed he would get his resort one way or another. Later on, I went through the trash cans on the side of the house. I found receipts for bomb making materials. If built, the blast would be big enough to destroy this entire town in less than 3 seconds. Right before I died, I found his hideout. The problem is I can’t remember where it was because that is when I died.”
“Do you remember what the man looked like?” Lola asked. “This is not a big town and no one ever comes or leaves so he would stick out like a porcupine.”
“A tall thin man with brown slicked back hair who always wears ugly striped suits,” said Sarah. “
"I think I know him,” said Lola. She starts up her car and heads to a large dairy farm just on the edge of town. “This is the Stone family dairy farm. The guy you described is the son who left town after high school, but has come home in the last few weeks. He always was a bad dresser.”
They both get out of the car and head towards the milking barn. The owner of the farm, Mr. Stone, recognizes Lola and waves after he removes the milking equipment from the cow on the platform. He grabs a towel to wipe his hands as he walks towards Lola.
“Mr. Stone is Baron home?” Lola asked. “I heard he was back in town, and I hadn’t had a chance to say hi.”
“Hey Lola. Nice of you stop by,” said Mr. Stone. “He is in his private outbuilding back there. He doesn’t like us touching his stuff.”
Lola waves and makes her way to the outbuilding.
“Way to go Lola,” said Sarah. “I didn’t know you had it in you to lie so easily.”
Lola glares at Sarah and looks into the low window of a broken down outbuilding. She sees Baron attaching wires to what looks like a bomb. “Is that what I think it is?”
Sarah said, “That is a bomb.”
Lola’s steps to take a better look and ends up kicking an old milking bucket which rattles around in a circle by her feet. When she looks up, Baron is looking directly at her.
“Time to go,” said Sarah.
As Lola turns to run, her arm is grabbed by Mr. Stone. “I am really sorry you saw that Lola,” said Mr. Stone.
Baron comes out of the building and says, “Now, what are we going to do with you?”
They take her into the room she saw Baron tinkering with the bomb. They push her into a chair and tie her up with her hands behind her back and feet to the legs of the chair.
“Why are you doing this?” asked Lola.
“To turn this wretched town into one of the most visited places on Earth,” said Baron. “And once we set this bomb off, we will have plenty of room to create the best hotel the world has ever seen, and no one will get in our way in becoming the richest men in the world. You will end up like that wicked detective.”
“What did you do to her?” Lola asked.
“Once the detective found out that my father and I were working on this plan,” Baron said. “She tried to stop our plan. She found herself ‘accidentally’ in the bottom of a grain silo.”
Baron gagged Lola, set the timer on the bomb, and locked the door behind him. Lola immediately began to wiggle her hands out of the rope watching the bomb timer go from 20 minutes down to 10. Lola walked slowly towards the bomb.
“Sarah, I really hope you know how to disarm this bomb,” said Lola.
“Lucky for you, I do,” said Sarah.
Following Sarah’s instructions, Lola disarmed the bomb and saved the entire town as well as letting the authorities know exactly who created the bomb and killed a detective in the process.
Later on, Lola and Sarah said their goodbyes. Now, Sarah’s job was done, and she could rest in peace. Lola was later accepted into Quantico to become an FBI agent.
YES! Program helps dyslexic students find their strength via mentoring and self-advocacy. We currently have local YES! Hubs in Colorado and New Jersey. We are expanding into Massachusetts and Utah this year. Find our more about our student services at Explore1in5.org