The results are in. Now Media Group’s 2017 Writing Contest received a total of 150 entries in two categories: third- through fifth-graders, and sixth- through eighth-graders. Students were invited to submit an essay of no more than 400 words fitting this description:  “Imagine you are a person from times past. Tell us a story about your life.” We judged the essays on clear writing and creativity, and the submissions we publish today are those we chose as the top three from the third- through fifth-grade group. Next week we will publish the winning essays from the sixth- through eighth-grade group. The first-place winners in each category will win a prize of $50.

Thank you to all who entered!

First Place

The First Fire

By Talia Nettesheim

10 years old; a fifth-grader at Rolling HIlls Elementary School

It was 1200 A.D. and the population of Cahokia was more than 100,000. My family and I had just moved into the outskirts of Cahokia. We had agreed to grow the food for the ever-growing city. I had a two-year-old brother and a three-and-a--half-year-old sister.

Most of the time my dad and I did all the cleaning and growing.

"Shyan," my dad called. I turned my head toward the direction of his voice with my long golden hair wiping in the breeze. "Can. you bring me the seeds?" I ran over to him with different types of seeds and he planted them.

Later that day a messenger came with news from the society. "Your farm is going to get shut down." the messenger said.

"What?!" my dad roared.

"Apparently they need this land for other things."

"What kind of other things?"

The messenger ignored him, handing my dad a stone slab with scribbles. I couldn't read. My, dad read aloud what the stone slab said: "Your farm is getting moved further out. The land here is going to be used for a new village." My dad looked up. "By the time we finish our house it will be winter and the city will starve."

Months had passed since we got the stone slab. The first frost had already come and we had just finished our new house. We hadn't gotten any plants that year or livestock because we needed to trade all of our animals for things we needed. I sighed when my dad said we needed to trade some things that we won't ever use.

My dad traded old tools and leather shoes that were too small for me with other farmers for food. We were there for a few hours when I smelled smoke.
"Dad do you smell that?" I asked him. He didn't respond so said it a little louder "Dad do you smell that?"

I looked up and saw the beginning of a dark gray cloud that smelled like ash. "DAD!"
"Shyan. Th-"

I was pointing to the ash and smoke cloud that kept growing bigger. The stench of
smoke started to crawl toward the village.

A farmer came running into the village. "RUN! RUN!" he shouted with fear "FIRE EVERYWHERE! ALL THE FARMS ARE DESTROYED AND THE FIRE IS COMING CLOSER. RUN TO THE TOWN CENTER!!!"

Second Place

Oregon Trail Celebration

By Bethany Stroh, 

10 years old; a fourth-grader at Christ Lutheran Church in Big Bend

Right now, there is a party going on in the wagon circle in celebration of my mother and the new baby, Charles Peter. There are games and snacks and dancing. It is great fun!

But life isn't always fun on the Oregon Trail. We use to live in Bloomsburg, Missouri, at a farm of our own. Our family had chickens, sheep, goats, dairy cows, oxen, and horses. Father decided one day we were leaving on the Oregon Trail in one month.

He sold the chickens and sheep first. Then the goats and five of our cows. With the money, we bought our wagon and supplies. The only problem was that Mother discovered she was pregnant. Father said that she would be fine. I don't think that Mother liked that. Finally, we left.

The trail was and is horrible for feet. I have millions of blisters with okay treatment for them, but now I don't care about my blisters because Mother and Charles Peter live. After months of waiting it happened finally. So, tonight we party!

Tomorrow, back on the road. I, Nellie Brown, will be a helpful big sister to Charles Peter. And someday our journey on the Oregon Trail will be history.

Third Place

Carletto and the Earthquake that Changed Italy

By Charlie Tripp

11 years old; a fifth-grader at Section Elementary School

All I thought was that I was a usual boy named Carletto living in Italy. But when I got older the coliseum was built and people started fighting animals and it started to get more popular. I started to gain an interest. Then when I asked my father if I could do it, he said that I was too young to fight, so I had to wait.

Meanwhile when I was too young I had to practice fighting chickens. As I grew until I was eighteen, I could finally fight and I did, every Saturday evening I would fight. In the beginning when I first started they would put me up against the biggest and baddest animals. They only did that to get a chuckle out of the new kid.

I was soon the best in all of Rome, Italy, everyone knew who I was — Carletto, the best coliseum fighter ever! My father was happy in my success in the beginning, but then he became the second-best animal fighter in all of Rome and he did not want me to follow in his footsteps anymore.

People wanted me to fight him till the death but I don't know if I wanted to do that — I couldn't be killed by my father or kill my father. I didn't know what to do. I knew that I wanted to do it after all because I knew that I was going to win. The fight was getting closer and closer and soon it was a day away. I was getting so nervous for the fight.

I didn't know how to get ready besides fighting the big tigers. The day before the fight I was exhausted because I was so nervous. The fight was today and then all of the sudden when I was trying to walk to the coliseum to get warmed up I saw that the coliseum was breaking down and it was falling to the ground and part of the side fell off and the first thing that ran through my head was leave and run, it was an earthquake! I started to run around knocking on the doors to wake people to make sure that they would know what is happening! I saw my father under our house dead as could be. I started to faint and pass out. This was too much!

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