Friday, May 30, 2008

And the winner is....Big Read - D.C.
High School Essay contest

photo: Left-Right: Dr. Anne Ashmore-Hudson (Chair, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities), Donald Murray (Chair, Humanities Council of Washington, DC), Sharon Adams, Joy Ford Austin (Humanities Council of Washington, DC), Jamilla Coleman (PEN/Faulkner Writers In Schools)
Sharon Adams (3rd from the left), a junior at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School won first prize in the Big Read - D.C. high school essay contest, Secrets, Goals and Dreams, organized by PEN/Faulkner Writers in Schools. Sharon read her winning essay, "Secrets: The Vital Flaws," at the Big Read - D.C.'s closing event for the city read of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. The reading was followed by a standing ovation and applause inside the Langston Room at Busboys and Poets.

Sharon received the $300 first prize. Runners-up Jasmine Igbedion (Banneker Academic High School) and Marsha Casey (Cardoza High School) each received $150 dollars. Information about the 2009 Big Read - D.C. essay contest will be announced in January 2009.

Secrets: The Vital Flaws
by Sharonda Adams

Secrets have a way of overshadowing the lives of their owners and changing their destiny. They develop an unconscious duty to protect them and hide their contents from everybody. A fear of instant vulnerability is instilled in one’s mind at the very thought of the secret being exposed. Trying to obtain discreet and mysterious traits that will make the task of concealing this clandestine simple, a flaw in who we really are or more in particular who I really am develops.

My secret ultimately has nothing to do with me directly but affects my thought and opinions of myself. It has corrupted my ability to go certain places and watch certain things. I have been taunted and broken by its contents but in a way it has made me stronger. Growing up as a child there were times when I questioned my mother of my fathers whereabouts and because of my age and failure to truly understand the situation, I was often ignored. With my younger brother being named after my father hearing my mother call his name would create an indescribable excitement in me as I ran towards her voice yelling "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!" only to be disappointed by the presence of my brother. So what is my secret?Only time will tell.

In the Great Gatsby Tom Buchanan was engaged in an affair with Myrtle Wilson despite that fact that they were both married. Myrtle was a citizen of the Valley of the Ashes which was a depressing gloomy area that constantly rained ashes. Over looked by the billboard of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg's faded eyes, the devastating scenery reminds me of God watching over his struggling children with pain in his eyes. Tom Buchanan lived in East Egg as a wealthy first class citizen with a wife who truly loved him. Myrtle was secretly unhappy with the circumstances of her marriage and fell in love with Tom. Be that as it may there's still a quiet voice that whispers it was the things Tom's money could buy that created that affection and adoration. Both Tom and Myrtle had significant others in which they truly cared about but the thrill of living a double life ultimately made their attraction stronger. In the end it was Myrtle who was killed all because of a secret that got out. Myrtle's secret predetermined her destiny.

My secret doesn't involve the appalling content of adultery but it tends to get the same looks of shame from the public's eyes. All of my efforts to rise above my denial of embarrassment fail me every time. Should I really live my life hiding the horrible truths of a drug addicted father? Should it all even affect me so deeply that there is a piece of me missing? I live and breathe for the satisfaction of knowing one day he will change. It hurts to hear him say I love you because I already know it. I constantly question if I'm the one who is supposed to be broken by his struggles when I have my own. My secret is hidden because I'm not strong enough to be open about it. I keep it in the depths of my soul and refuse to ever let it be spoken to anybody who could possibly destroy me. My secret has developed an immortal determination in me that burns like a flame, constantly reminding me that one mistake can ruin it all. Everything I've worked to build and even those in progress. Everyday is a new fight because I'm battling what I've come from and where it is that I want to go. I'm constantly reminded of my father every time I walk past that street corner inhabited by those zombies who live another day just to poison them selves. I become the faded billboard eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg except my eyes are filled with tears and my look of disappointment doesn't instill the fear of God in them. My secret is the reason why I sing. It brings out the best in me because I live to outshine it. I live to taunt it. In my defeat in have victory over the only thing that can break me down. My father. My heart. My soul. Through my pain I bring joy and that's genuinely what make me unique from all of the rest.

Holding a secret in your heart can bring you closer to your wishes. Gatsby would stare out over the ocean at that green light in East Egg because he knew Daisy was over there. With the help of Nick, Gatsby and Daisy's love was rekindled. Gatsby had undying love for Daisy that he held unto and was crushed when he found out she was married. Despite the fact Daisy was married she continued to see him. Due to a secret Tom and Myrtle held, Gatsby’s life was influenced in a twist of fate. After being told it was Gatsby who killed Myrtle, George shot and killed him instantly, taking his own life in the end.

"When your heart becomes the grave of your secrets, that desire of yours will be gained more quickly. The prophet said that anyone who keeps secret his inmost thought will soon attain the object of his desire. When seeds are buried in the earth, their inward secrets become the flourishing garden" Rumi Daylight: A Daybook of Spiritual Guidance. My secret has been buried into the deepest part of me and will grow into my success. It will flourish into my triumph and my little secret that I was so ashamed of, will be the root of it all.