On Friday, October 13, six KID TALK students shared their stories at a special event held at the LaunchPAD Children’s Museum. This ODE event, designed by Ally Karysn of Siouxland Public Media, was the first student led storytelling event for the ODE specials. These students researched and revised pieces that related to the idea that their house was on fire, and they had to get out.  Students considered the one thing that they might “grab” before they left the house.  The overall intent of ODE is to create empathy and understanding in your audience.  The students worked hard to develop pieces that did just that.  A special thank you for this event goes to the following organizations and businesses:  Siouxland Pubic Media, The Gilchrist Foundation, LaunchPAD Children’s Museum, Kid Scoop News Siouxland, Absolute Screen Art, and Sterk Financial.  Watch and listen for these stories and others that will air on KWIT during November and December.

Bella Taylor

The question is not what I would take from the fire, but what I’d leave behind to burn.  There resides in the memory things better off forgotten .  Those memories cannot do anything buy strike at random moments making you visibly wince.  That’s the worst thing to explain.

Fire can take a lot of little dramatic love letters my fourth grade self wanted desperately to send to all those good-looking, unsuspecting, fifth grade boys and then all of my horrifying school photos.  If by some chance, too, by some stroke of compassion and motherliness my mom thinks to grab us before her stack of unused clearance decorations, I could watch those burn.  Treasures are in the mind of the beholder.

Other than those things, not much else comes to mind when I think of what I want to watch burn.  If I really did have to save something it would be my backpack.  I paid good money for that, 20 dollars and I do not think they refund burned merchandise.

Maybe I’m just not worried about saving anything because all of the important things are locked in a storage room.  All my nice photos, written achievements, the diaries from when I was slightly normal, all my memories are in an 8 by 10 foot storage unit on the other side of town. You see, I tend to be dreadfully pessimistic and can only remember a good moment when I look at a certain photo, or smell a certain scent, so even imagining all of the pictures, journals and smells I’ve collected over the years sends me into a panic.

Every needed memory, good or bad, makes me what I am and remember who I was.  Everything my parents and old friends taught me, everything that I taught myself would be gone.  Everything I’ve been so scared to forget.  Without those memories, I wouldn’t be able to be better than I am now or remember where I started.  What can you do if you cannot improve?

Since we live so far away, and I’m not an emergency contact, this little girl’s moments would burn because out of everything else, who’d save some scraps of paper anyway?

I guess it’s a good thing that the storage unit is fireproof.

House on Fire!

Brianna Martinez

My world is crashing down to the ground...all around me my belongings are disappearing and the fire is raging close to the bedroom door.  A million thoughts go through my mind.  How did this happen?  Will we get out safely?  Where will we go?  Paralyzed, I remembered my younger siblings.  Panicked, I worry that they might not be all right.  Are they safe?  Are they injured?  Are they hiding...where are they?

I’m the eldest of four and while the others are not toddlers, they are still young and a bit careless.  I’ve been the caretaker my whole is the lot of the eldest.  It’s my job to watch over them and to keep them safe.  House on fire, what would I do?  What would I leave behind, what would be that one thing I absolutely had to save?  Nothing came to mind that was worth my life except my family.  My parents would be fine, but my younger siblings have been known to get into trouble and trouble often follows them.

Isabel, the second eldest, gets in trouble for her snarkiness and attitude.  She is extremely bright, knows it, and isn’t afraid to show it.  Her stubbornness gets the best of her and recently she ended up in a little...well... more than a little spat with her math teacher.  Long story short, Isabel went to visit with the math teacher to share her thoughts on how the teacher might improve her teaching plans.  You see, since the beginning of the year Isabel didn’t think math class had been going so well.  She’d been tutoring other students in terms of math concepts and she thought the teacher just might do a little better.  Well, the teacher did not appreciate Isabel’s wise words and Isabel ended up having to write a letter of apology to the teacher which was worded, “Sorry, but not so sorry.” That is our Isabel with one l and no e at the end of her name!

Ramon is the third in our family and the complete opposite of Isabel.  I think this is why they fight so much.  Ramon is very quiet and the most athletic.  He is not prone to speaking out or talking to new people unless he is forced.  But, don’t let his silence or shy demeanor deceive you.  He is actually a tiny bit ...shall we say....snarky himself and isn’t afraid to show it.  He is a walking poster for emergency room visits!  Fun fact...he has been to the hospital more times than any of us.  His athleticism and reckless behavior gets him into tons of trouble.  He has had a broken left arm, needed stitches in his finger, staples in his head, fractured his wrist and had a seizure when he was really young and he is only 12 right now.  So, our house is on fire and I shouldn’t be worried?

Then there is Joseph, Joe.  He is known as the class clown at age nine, he stands 5’2” and is practically a giant next to the other kids in his class.  He is a total Star Wars nerd, (which I am proud to say) and his teachers and he constantly tell each other Star Wars’ trivia.  Loud, funny and tall...I can’t imagine life without him.  As the youngest, he makes us all smile...and in a time of need, is there to help out....

My siblings are each their own person.  One loves math, one video games and the next art.  I love coding and theater.  One tight little family we are, and though being eldest is often being at the brink of insanity, I couldn’t wish for a better family.  House on fire...I’m practical, I should grab that camera, computer, sketchbooks and billing in my eyes, but there is no question I can live without them.  But my life would be intolerable without my family, and yes those pesky younger siblings, so I would just have to save them. I’m the eldest, it’s what we do.

House on Fire

Isabel Martinez

When a fire starts in someone’s home, I suppose most people would obviously think to grab pets and family members. Not in my case.  I would oh, so heroically, save the photos and memories that are kept in a drawer of the hutch in my dining room. That old hutch holds memories of my family and ones I will cherish for decades to come.

From a time before my sister and I became addicted to books and got phones and Facebook wasn’t the only thing we kept our memories on, I remember going to Walmart to print photos after a family vacation.  My parents like to say I have the memory of an elephant, because I can remember simple things, like the one time years ago when I wrote my name on one of the stairs with a black marker and I ended up having to scrub it off.  But even with “the memory of an elephant”, I can’t remember when my mom held my newborn brother Joseph when I was four, but those photos help us never completely forget those memories. 

 Memories of that one time I went to Disney World that I hardly remember other than running through the one sprinkler platform that got my siblings and me drenched and our parents a bit upset with the wet clothing. The time I thought that bangs were a good idea and that I could definitely be a trustworthy hair stylist. The photos of my brother cuddling my old dog Ginger, who passed away this January, as though she was his lifeline. That dog was there waiting for me when I came home from the hospital over thirteen years ago, and I was there when my parents brought her home from the vet just over ten months ago, fitting. The photo of my sister (four at the time) and I (two) making funny faces at the camera, looking crazily adorable (I was such a cute kid). When my brother broke his arm, or the time he cracked his head open, or the time his fingernail broke off, or- you know what? My brother gets hurt a lot.

There are some things in life that should never be forgotten, and those are memories. I know many people who prefer to keep their photos and memories all on their phone and the social media apps they have.  My phone can hold up to fifteen gigabytes of storage, but it can’t hold all of the memories that I forget. It can hold apps, games, and recent photos, but it could never generate the same feelings that are expressed when going through even ten photos from eight years ago. Whenever my family cracks open the drawer of memories, it’s usually to find a certain photo. It almost always ends with the whole family sitting around the dining room table, where hundreds of photos are thrown across, awing at the cute photos, barking with laughter at the hilarious ones, and even crying at some that represent memories we’re ever so fond of. Those photos deserve a lot of credit. What I’m trying to say is, even in a fire, where I’m in danger, I would never for a second think of forgetting the memories that my family made. The connection a family has is completely made up of memories. If I ever had to risk my life to save the sad, happy, upsetting, or even hilariously humiliating memories my family has, I would do it in a heartbeat. After all, what’s a family without the memories they create?

Langston Saint

Imagine the scene: We’re all downstairs watching a movie.  Suddenly, we hear the BEEP, BEEP, BEEP of the fire alarm going off.   As it turns out, the battery is dead.  I wish they didn’t do that.  (Consider a commercial voice)  “Buy a smoke detector, safety at the price of eating through batteries faster than a starving man, and will make you think there’s a fire every time the battery runs down.”  Really, it is simply annoying.

But, let’s get serious.  If there is a fire and not just a dead battery and I can only grab one thing...I would be stumped as there are so many possibilities.  My Nintendo, my computer, my dog are all important to me and the list goes on.  But ,before I think about any of those things I would make sure one being is safe, and that is my brother. My baby brother is the most important thing for me to save.  He is the key to happiness in my life.

I can’t imagine a not having him around. ( Even though somehow I was happy before he was born.)  One day I asked my mom why she decided to have another baby.  She said that when she was an old woman I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to about how “crazy” Mom is unless I had a sibling. 

They say no one knows you like a sibling ... and what do you know they got it right!  I thought sayings like that were things you said to scare your kids! For example,  “Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”  Now, all night you’re  awake afraid of bugs in your bed.  Go figure?

Sometimes my brother bugs me, like when he tackles or bites or hits or when he types on my keyboard when I’m trying to 19347928`yskrc. But for every little annoyance, there are ten sweet things.

He’s the cutest thing ever, and he knows everything about butterflies, and even blames his broken toys on them.  He loves to “sing” with me, which is actually just screaming in tune.  Sometimes when I think he’s reaching up to whack me on the chin, he just touches my faces and says, “I love you, mwah!”

People say that I’m the civilized one and my brother is the wild one and I think that is how we balance each other out.  I make sure he doesn’t jump off the back of the couch, He makes me put down my books and my video games and get in the floor and wrestle. When we are both adults I bet we’ll still balance each other out. When I’m 27, he’ll be 19. I’ll be calling him every day to make sure he’s going to class and keeping up with his school work. He’ll be inviting me to his college parties (I probably won’t go).

When I was writing this, my mom told me about a real fire that happened before I was born. Their washing machine was broken, so, while my dad was at work, my mom took a load of laundry to her sister’s house. For some reason, she decided to take our dog Molly with her. I’m so glad she did, because while they were gone, someone broke into the house to rob it and set it on fire as they were leaving. When my parents got home, all they had left was that basket of laundry, the dog and each other. But they knew that that was all they really needed, just like I know my baby brother, who I never knew I wanted, is all I really need

The Family Friendly Feline

Meghan Mrla

Fire is a good servant, but quite a bad master.  If watching my house caught aflame, and disintegrating before my eyes, I wouldn’t hesitate to save an important object or item.  If your house was burning, what would you take with you?  There seems to be a conflict between what is practical, valuable and sentimental.  What you might take reflects your interests, background and priorities.

For me, the answer is simple.  I would choose to save my cat, Tiny.  It is said money cannot bring you happiness, on the contrary I have found substantial merriment in my furry feline friend, and I have no doubt I would look for her first.  People have said I save her when she first came into my life, but in reality, she is the one who saved me. 

Let me tell you a bit about how I found the little fuzzy buns I currently call my best friend, and how she gave me insight to what is truly important.

It all began a few years back, the thaw of snow brought delight and enrichment to the lives of the animals who call our acreage their home.  The fragrant smell of freshly blossomed daffodils spread like wildfire, creating a perfumed air, that generated emotions of delight and jubilation.  The unmistakable cry of baby kittens rang from out underneath our patio, causing my mother and me to go searching for the source.  We sprinted down the year and my mother who was an expert with these things, stuck her head under the narrow passage under the porch and wriggled herself slowly in.  It wasn’t long before I followed and we found what were eight- living, breathing balls of fluff, still wailing vociferously for their mother. 

She was a stray who had found us a year earlier.  She now was beside her babies, eying each one lovingly. Crouched skintight underneath the now quite claustrophobic patio, we retrieved the kittens one by one, placing them in a shabby cardboard box, along with their surprisingly compliant mother and headed inside.

We carefully examined the kittens, making sure none appeared ailing, or malnourished. The kittens were small and fragile.  We watched enthralled at the perfect picture of peace, kittens cuddling with their mom. Once the mother was fed, we added a few brightly colored crocheted blankets we had thrifted to the box, and upon doing so, we noticed a rather small, meager, multicolored kitten, squished at the bottom of her cage. Upon further inspection we noticed she was very frail, and appeared to be quite sickly. Naturally, we decided to name her Tiny.

The next few weeks seemed tedious catering to Tiny’s needs, feeding her kitten formula from a bottle, fastened with a small rubber nipple several times a day. I often wondered if Tiny would live, and I prepared myself for the worst, but that didn’t stop me from continuing to save the tiny kitten’s life.

 To our astonishment, one tiny paw at a time, she started to grow! However, still not up to tops with her siblings, she was kept in a small room off the side of our front porch, where she became accustomed to indoor life, with its luxuries of canned fancy feast, air conditioning and cat toys, and we all became accustomed to her ever grateful love, shown by her purring by my bed on warm Summer nights, as the celestial stars glittered down like scattered moon dust, and the subtle, refreshing southwest breeze brushed gently through my drapey bedroom curtains, or the mischievous glint in her eyes as her paws danced merrily across my laptop keys, those were the moments that made Tiny’s life worth the dedication and hardship, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

This is the story of how I met my best friend, and she is the first thing I would save from a fire in a heartbeat, because unlike a computer, tablet or IPhone of 2017, Tiny shows me affection.. she doesn’t require much, just daily food and water, maybe a litter change now and again, but I know she will never judge me based on the way I dress or who I hang around, I’m just there to take care of her, and I know she loves me for that. Like a best friend she will be there for me in the good times, and bad. Over the years she has been my rock, someone to laugh, and cry with, or just sit down and pet, even if we can’t have a face to face conversation, I’d prefer her over most humans any day. That is why if my home was on fire, with only minutes to escape, she would be my immediate first choice to save.

“To love all animals is to love all life, and to love all life is to be rooted in your spirituality” -April Peerless


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