From staff reports
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — BENZONIA — Ten high school freshmen writers have received awards for participating in the Bruce Catton Essay Contest.
The Mills Community House sponsors the Bruce Catton Essay Contest to introduce high school students to the works of Catton, who was born in northern Michigan and grew up in Benzie County. Readers gave performance readings of student essays during a reception in April.
Those works included: “Mystery Across the Bridge” by Katherine Aldrich; “Sailing” by Lexi Borton; “Hunting” by Brandon Coxe; “The Paddleboard” by Justin Mitchell; “A Father-Son Tradition” by Levi Hubbard; “Yesterday” by McKenna Kelly; “Creating the Family Retreat” by Ian Mills; “Cherry Orchard Dreamin’” by Maisie Nugent; “Grasshopper” by Isabelle Putney; “My Best Experience in Benzie County” by Sara Smith.
From those, the top three award winners were announced, with Mitchell taking first place, Hubbard second and Kelly third. Following is Mitchell’s essay in part.
By Justin Mitchell
It was a swelteringly hot day in Beulah. The sun was shining and Crystal Lake was cool and beautiful; just waiting to be swum in.
I was with my cousin and we were rummaging around in our grandpa’s barn. We were searching for something that we could float on in the lake — an old raft, a blow-up boat — anything that would float.
I looked over to one of the great, wooden doors of the barn, and a tarp beside it with a white surfboard-like end poking out of the tarp grabbed my eye. It pulled me over; my curiosity overwhelming me. I flung the tarp off of it, and a paddleboard lay beneath.
Our adventure led my cousin and me to the pole barn. There we found two old wooden paddles, just perfect for us to use with the board. We grabbed our cooler, which held an ice-cold pop for each of us. Down the gravel road we went, each carrying an end of the paddleboard. It took us awhile, but eventually we reached the cottages, two small homes that my grandparents rent out during the summer. They were right on the lake, so we could launch our little boat right from there.
It took some practice, but eventually we situated ourselves on the paddleboard and reached a small sandbar. It was just big enough so that we could touch the cool, sandy bottom. We dug into our cooler and retrieved the two pops that it held.
Our adventure had to end in an hour, so we made the most of it. We played water tag, wrestled under water, and even had a couple of races. The journey back to shore was more challenging than coming out. A great wind had picked up, and the waves grew greater with each passing minute. It took a lot of strength, but we made it back. We sat under one of the birch trees in our yard and talked as we stared out into the lake
As I write this, the heat of summer has long since passed, and the child of winter now looms over us. The shorts and flip-flops are gone, replaced with snow boots and shovels.
But, it will not be long until the ice melts and flowers bloom. When the day comes, and I have nothing to do in the hot sun, I will go into Grandpa’s barn and see what new adventures are in store.