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TOP TEN WINNERS

Priscilla Hardianto
Grade 9
The Bishops School, CA

Playgrounds Even before learning about the concepts of Vitamin D and the perfect tan, I frolicked outside in my backyard every day. Surely it wasn't some gold-plated, topiary oasis, but the untamed variety of plant species had a mind of its own, which surely translated into me having a mind of my own. Tripping over branches, meandering through half rotting mulch piles: it was worth it, so long as I was rewarded with a taste of the raw outdoors. I was a rather insane, clumsy girl. I recall trekking alongside trees during sunset as I pretended to be Hermione in the Forbidden Forest. I reminisce over diving for "pearls' (plastic Dora the Explorer and Pokémon figurines) in the pool. I remember heaving cloyingly humid air as I dueled alien-like tropical leaves in the greenhouse. I transformed every crack in the cement and ring in the tree into a world of its own using nothing but my noggin, expanding the garden past the constricting boundaries of 2201 Maystone Street. Recently, I visited the house again. It was the same sanctuary down to every nook, yet it had somehow changed. Trees remained as trees, not mythical serpents. The pool was merely a grimy bathtub with measly eucalyptus leaves role-playing as pathetic rubber ducklings. While this moment of realization should have been filled with bittersweet regret and aching nostalgia, I simply acknowledged this epiphany as a harbinger of maturation. In the midst of observing this déjà vu of a childhood scene, something caught the corner of my eye in the yonder: the view of the deep glowing valleys and indigo mountains in the east. I silently decided that this frontier, this grand rocky planet, would be my newfound playground of countless unfamiliar obstacles. I, after all, am still a rather insane, slightly clumsy girl.

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