by: PHOTO BY: DARA KRAMER - Gardiner Middle School students getting published include, back row from left: Allison Burgin, Brooklyn Bevens, Samantha Ferguson and Austin Kendall; front row, from left: Katelin Peveler and Ellie Grenfell.Samantha Ferguson, an eighth-grader at Gardiner Middle School, wrote of Hannah, her Weimaraner, with whom she shares an age of 14 and a lifelong bond: “We all stumble over rare gifts during points in our life, even if at the time we don’t realize they are exactly that, a gift. Hannah is that gift that I will never be able to replace.”

She was among an unusually large group of Oregon City students whose essays were selected for publication in a regional anthology of top student writing.

Dara Kramer, eighth-grade English teacher at Gardiner, said a student’s essay is typically selected for publication each year in the annual essay contest that her students enter. But it’s “very rare” for so many students to become top-10 finalists or get published.

Creative Communication, the Utah-based company that conducts the student writing contests, makes its mission to motivate creative writers and promote appreciation of student writing. Top entries are published in an anthology that records the insights of today’s student writers.

For his “treasure” essay assignment that was also selected for publication, Austin Kendall wrote about his grandpa Bob Kendall, who was 80 when he died of lung cancer in June 2010. Austin described why in 2002 his grandpa had his right leg amputated because of a loss of blood flow. Through “awesome wheelchair skills,” however, they would still get together frequently to play.

“My grandpa cooked the family dinner every Sunday night; it was a tradition,” he wrote.

Birthdays were special because Bob would make whatever dinner and dessert requested by Austin or his older brother and sister. Austin would request spaghetti for dinner and chocolate cake for dessert.

“He always wanted what was best for my family, and he would give it to us. My grandpa was and always will be my best friend,” Austin wrote.

Samantha Ferguson seems to echo her classmate Austin’s memories in writing that she rarely has to take care of Hannah, who’s usually the one taking care of her.

“Silver through every hair, eyes that glow in a beam of light, ears as soft as velvet and a heart that would fill up the whole world if you let it out,” she wrote. “I love her truly for who she is and the comfort she gives me.”

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