Rancho Mirage High School 2019 Winners

Winning Stories 9th Grade
1st Place: $100.00 Winner: Hope Hardin-Salazar

I Believe That Strength is Found in the Midst of Destruction

“Two dogs hid under a bed when their home caught fire and they later died, firefighters say...”

“Palm Springs fire displaces terminally ill Vietnam veteran...”

“Victim pulled to safety by relative while fire displaces at least 3, destroys home and cars...”

From a young age, I was depressed; hopeless (ironically, considering my name), and wanted to end my pain. May 24, 2017 changed everything. My father, my best friend, my world, was quickly declining from liver cancer. It was a long battle and grimly, it was time for hospice. I stayed home that day to help set up, and upon arrival, we found that there were no sheets to fit the bed they brought for my dad. So, my mom and I had to run to Walmart to pick some up.

No more than 30 minutes later, we arrived home only to discover our lives literally up in flames. The thick black smoke and enormous red flames consumed our lives and everything I’ve ever known right in front of our eyes. In horror, panic, and fear, my mom slammed the brakes, threw the keys my way, and hysterically yelled, “MY HUSBAND!” while running towards the police.

He couldn’t walk. We lost our dogs. We lost everything. I called immediate family. No more than ten feet from the fire, I stood holding up my mother as she sobbed and said, “I’m so sorry, baby. I’m so so sorry.” My shattered heart broke a little more. Eventually, my mom was holding my dad in the neighbor's house ensuring he was okay. I stayed outside and stared into the flames and, for the first time in some sick way, I was finally important. I finally mattered.

May 31, 2017: I held my dad as he slowly faded away. My hand on his chest feeling his heart and feeling the last beat it would ever take. Yet again, I was torn down. Hopeless. Done with breathing. The days following were a blur. We went from a family who never stopped smiling to two people struggling to form a smile.

My mother is now a single mom fighting everyday to make sure we can make it. To make sure that we are okay. Today, I am not the teen wanting to end her pain. Today, I am the girl living my life to the best of my ability because my dad didn’t get that option. I’m living for everyone who was taken too soon and never got the chance to see what life has in store. Today, I’m living because I found my strength in a pile of ashes.


Winning Poetry – 10th Grade
1st Place: $100.00 Winner: Yunuen Mora


Four Seasons

You hate the fall

A feeling they never understood

So you try to love it

Because they say you should

But no matter how much you wanted to

You just never could

But through the foggy cold skies

You saw some hope in the moon

One that fall’s warm sun

Never gave you

And while watching snowflakes in the sky

You never felt so alive

And it’s because they understand you

Something the autumn’s clouds

Just never could do

So you play in the snow

And dance in the rain

And the sad soundtrack

Of your frowns and pain

Is replaced with the records

Of smiles and Jim Swayne

You discover you don’t have to love

The orange leaves

For the winter snow is just as beautiful

Despite what they may believe

And maybe she prefers summer

Because the sounds of the beach

 puts her at ease

While he’d rather have spring

To listen to the sounds

of the buzzing bumble bees

Everyone is different

For this you have learned

It’s okay to like ice skating

More than getting sunburned

There is a season for everyone

For him and her too

But if you struggle to find yours, don’t worry

Because it will find you


Winning Speech – 11th Grade
1st Place: $100.00 Winner: Adrian Marquez


Risk Heightens the Imagination

3:07 am, my stomach roars-- an almighty roar. I'm Hungry, I fancy a late-night snack, however, there is one catch. My parents are fast asleep, any noise will wake them. After some heavy contemplation, I will take the risk, and acquire that snack that I desire.

I approach my kitchen silently, adapting to the ways of the black panther, sly and stealthy. Approaching my refrigerator, I begin to think of the consequences that would come with my capture. Torrents of emotions coursing through my brain, as the solid thick black belt, unleashes upon my bum, leaving what appears to be the Blood-red Siberian river on my skin. I snap back with one thought, “Complete my mission.” I proceeded at tiptoe stance, with my peripheral vision focused on the doorknob to my parents' bedroom. Slowly, I place my palm upon the handle of the fridge and pull swiftly The door opens, I notice an egg incredibly unbalanced ready to take the leap of faith. One fall can end my mission; therefore, my eyes dilate, a sense thrives through my veins, my motor reflex activates extends my arm catching the egg. A sigh of relief is released. I´m safe.

I scan my fridge searching for a snack when an item begins to yell at me, a string cheese. I launch my body towards the snack, and it awaits me with open hands, but one small snack will not satisfy me. I begin to think of another item that can soothe my needs-- Ah, ramen. I remember a cup of noodles only takes three minutes to cook; however, the main boss, the mischievous microwave would be in my way. Without hesitation I grab the ramen, carefully tear the package, I peel the wrapper back just enough for the current of the water to make its way through. As I turn the faucet, the water level begins rising, the border of the cup is surrounding the liquid inside acting as a dam. I pull the handle ever so slightly, plug in the coordinates and patiently wait. The clock begins. As a pass time, I begin to munch on that string cheese, that has been staring at me with a big smirk. I take a bite, and my teeth sink into the core of the cheese as if it were quicksand. When suddenly I lose track of time.

10 seconds left. 9, 8, 7 I look at the microwave with a distraught face and think to myself, “This can’t be it. I’ve worked so hard, it can’t!” My body fills with a jolt of electricity, I am the flash! I run towards the microwave, 6, 5... surrounding me is an electromagnetic radiation realm, same surroundings the speed of light travels through, the soles of my feet begin to melt, I continue striving towards the micro, 3… 2 my finger extends, like Elastagirl making contact with the timer. 1.

The timer stops. I'm safe. The risk I took was not in vain. I prevailed.

I believe risk heightens imagination.


Winning Letters – 12th Grade
1st Place: $100.00 Winner: Vanessa Viruete



5 February 2019

Dr. Sandra Lyon
150 District Center Dr.
Palm Springs CA 92264

Dear Dr. Lyon,

A week ago, I witnessed a tragic event, which changed my beliefs and the way I look at life. It showed me how important a few minutes can be to a life. It proved to me that not all staff members know what to do when it comes to a medical emergency. I believe that all schools should have an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

On January 28th, a 69-year-old man named Michael Devenish refereed the girl's soccer game on Rancho Mirage High School stadium field. Ten minutes into the panic, he suddenly collapsed on the field and was unresponsive. A few moments later, when the coaches and administrators had finally come to the realization that he wasn't breathing, they approached him without knowing what to do. Then, Kendra Mason, the athletic trainer, and my father, Victor Viruete, came and performed CPR on him. Twenty minutes passed before the ambulance finally arrived; my dad then approached me mentioning that the school did not have an AED. The paramedics automatically used the AED and received a small response that faded away quickly. Although the state doesn't require schools to have an AED, the school should invest in this life-saving machine. The approximate price for an AED ranges between $1,200 and $2,500. According to
Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association, it states that "if defibrillated within the first minute of collapse, the victim's chances for survival are close to 90 percent. Every minute that defibrillation is delayed, survival decreases by 7 percent to 10 percent." The school not having an AED lowered Mr. Dcvcnish's chance of survival, which is a price our school should be willing to pay.

An Automated External Defrillaberator is a machine that is designed to shock the heart. AEDs are important because they strengthen the chain of survival. Currently, the only way to restore a regular heart rhythm during cardiac arrest is to use the machine. In fact, more than 350,000 people will suffer a cardiac arrest this year.

Every school in this state must have an AED device within the premises. The device can help save the lives of students, staff, and volunteers like Mr. Devenish who experience a heart attack on the premises. Providing training to all staffs and enrolling them in an AED certification course can prove highly effective in saving lives.

At Coachella Valley High School there was a bus driver who also had a heart attack. That school also did not carry an AED, and the driver also died. This shows how important AEDs are and the
amount of lives that can be saved if schools were required to have an AED. I may not be able to make a law, but by making this a requirement, I hope that I am able to inspire the rattler nation to take a step in the right direction and save future lives with our own AED. If you have any questions you can email me at vcviruete@icloud.com.

Sincerely,


Vanessa Viruete



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