For the last four years, students across our Los Angeles schools have competed in the Ánimo Voices Writing and Art Competition.This event was created to celebrate and amplify strong student voices with network-wide recognition, prizes, and scholarship awards. This year, Akira Alamin, an Ánimo Westside Charter Middle School student, won first place through her experimental storytelling, tenacity, and skill.
Alamin wrote “Ringtone,” a short story that chronicles the first-person narrative of a child who is longing for the wellbeing of her parents after they were rushed into the hospital due to COVID-19. Alamin utilizes well-defined characters, vivid imagery, a wide-ranging vocabulary, and a strong story structure to demonstrate the emotions at stake during this grueling moment.
“Ringtone” wasn’t Alamin’s first foray into creative writing, in fact, she’s been writing since the sixth grade. “I’ve been scriptwriting because I have made characters and I want to make comics one day,” she said. “Before I wrote this, I had to study story structure and the different parts of stories. And then things started to make more sense.”
Alamin challenged herself to write “Ringtone” after she read “Flowers of Algernon,” a short story by Daniel Keyes, in her eighth grade English course, taught by Ánimo Westside Charter Middle School English teacher Ashley Smith.
“From the start of the year, I was just so impressed by Akira’s willingness to put herself out there,” Smith said. “A lot of students are shy in distance learning, but I’m really proud that Akira has been self-assured, and willing to be a leader every day. She’s incredible, talented and has so many skills.”
Smith believes Ánimo Westside Charter Middle School English department prepared Alamin for success. “We have a really strong staff of English teachers and I’m continually impressed by the English department. But when you love teaching and you love literature, I think it becomes infectious, and the students start to really enjoy it. And, we all know the more you read, the better writer you become,” Smith said.
As Alamin prepares to enter high school in the fall of 2021, she plans to continue pursuing writing, specializing in comic books and screenplay—with the goal of making an animated feature film..
At Green Dot, we build spaces for students to be creative, while also teaching them the skills necessary to share their own stories and amplify their own voices. Through rigorous academics, extracurricular activities, and opportunities like the Ánimo Voices Writing and Art Competition, we’re forging new pathways to prepare our students for success in college, leadership, and life.