Summer 2021 Creative Writing Competition: ‘Ocean Explorers’

the palisade post curates a selection of winning pieces from the Pacific Palisades Library Association’s 2021 Summer Creative Writing Contest, which featured the theme “Help!”

The next piece was written by Dylan Tierney, who won first place in the freshman and sophomore Scribblers category.


It was the first day of summer school at my school. The summer school was open to children from all over and I was the only child in the Ocean Explorers class to go to school. A lot of kids were nervous because they didn’t know anyone or didn’t know how to do it. I was nervous too. Fortunately, I knew and liked the teachers. They were teachers of physical education and mathematics. I also know the campus well, but I didn’t know any of these young people.

We played icebreaker games to get to know each other. Everyone said his name, his favorite dish for dinner and what he likes to do in his spare time. One of the boys, Anderson, loved pizza, as did I. A boy named Michael loved Legos! That pleased me ! Because building with Lego is my favorite hobby.

After the icebreakers, the teachers showed us all around campus to show us around where we could play and have snacks. First we walked past the library which has been closed since COVID hit. I really miss the library. The library is my favorite place on campus. I felt sad that none of the children could experience going inside the library. I told some of the kids on the walk how amazing school was and that they should come too. We walked through Redwood forest full of trees. A few of us noticed that one of the trees looked like a little man. It had two straight arms with two pointed fingers. His mouth was wide open…but he had no teeth. We called him “Mr. Barking.”

The teachers showed us the toilets and the water filling points. The kids were able to see the creek and the bridge to the north yard where I started school. I have happy memories when I see the North Yard with the tire rope and monkey bars I used to love. When you finish kindergarten, you cross the bridge to go to elementary school and that’s the part of campus where I am now. It’s different because of COVID. I miss the way it was before COVID. I really wish he could come back to that life before the masks. I’m disappointed with this, but glad that soon we can all play together without a mask like before.

Anyway, we went past the Dome, which is a rope climbing structure, past the black peaks, and then finally, to my favorite place to play, The Dino Yard. I love the Dino Yard because it has fun slides. A slide is a looping loop that you go down in half a second. The coach also let us play a trick in the GaGa pit. GaGa is so much fun. Gaga takes place in a huge circle surrounded by a wall. To start the game, someone throws a ball and says “Ga Ga GO!!” then you run to the ball and tap it at people’s feet to get them out. It makes you really tired and sweaty. We all had a big drink and then went back to our classroom.

It was snack time when we got home. I sat next to Anderson who realized he forgot his water bottle at the Dino Yard. I volunteered to walk him back there to see if we could find him. Along the way, I tripped over a rock and fell. “Do you need a hand to get up?” Anderson asked. I was embarrassed, but happy when he held out his hand.

As soon as we got to the Dino Yard, we saw his blue water bottle sitting on the wall of the GaGa pit. I noticed it had Mario, Pokemon, Transformers and ocean animal stickers all over it. We talked about all these things on the way back to class.

When we got back to the classroom, everyone was cleaning and tidying up. It was already the end of the first day of summer school!! I remember it very well, because it was the day I made a new friend.