The winners for 2015 “What Makes a House a Home” essay contest

Thurston County Essay Contest WinnersLast month, I wrote about the “What Makes a House a Home” scholarship essay contest for high school students in Thurston County, WA that my brokerage, Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty held, and THE WINNERS HAVE BEEN CHOSEN!

This year, the writing was superb and for the first time in the five years our brokerage has held this scholarship essay contest, our panel of independent judges had a hard time choosing the top three.

First Place Winner is Bella Hood of Olympia High School.  Her essay titled, “The Small White House with the Blue Door” describes the memories created in her house that makes it a home.  Here’s an excerpt:

I see how the Lazyboy is awkwardly shifted out of place because when I was thirteen I spilled an entire bottle of purple nail polish all over the brand new carpet. It did not take long before I realized the stain would not be coming out so I shoved the Lazyboy over it and walked away. To this day I don’t think my parents have noticed anything at all.

Second Place Winner is Aundrea Temple of Timberline High School.  Her essay is titled, “Home is where the Soul is.”  Here is an excerpt from her essay:

However, what makes my house a home is walking through the front door on my birthday and smelling the homemade lasagna baking in the oven because my mom knows it’s my favorite meal.

Third Place Winner is Julie Holder of Olympia High School. Her essay is titled, “Symphony of Sounds.”  Her essay starts:

If a person walked into my house and asked, “What makes your house a home,” my first response would most likely be, “Pardon? I can’t quite hear you.” The questioning voice would probably be drowned out by piano playing, guitar chords, trumpet fanfares, bouncing basketballs, shrieks of laughter, or by any of the other sounds of chaos and happiness that seem to incessantly sail through our home.

Congratulations to our winners.  And our first place winner, Bella Hood, will also have the honor of nominating a teacher for the Inspirational Educator Award, where the educator will be given a $500 grant.

Here are the winners’ essays in full.  Enjoy and congratulate these students and their accomplishments!

The Small White House with the Blue Door by Bella Hood

Drive down the pot-hole filled street, take a left, and stop once you see the big oak tree. Next to this tree there is a small white house with a blue door and Christmas lights hanging from the roof, or at least this is what I imagine the average person would see. What I see is quite different. I see the Christmas lights swaying gently in the warm August breeze because my dad refuses to take them down. I see the branch on the oak tree that I fell off of when I was eight which resulted in a broken collarbone and an abundance of tears. I see a pile of shoes by the door, muddy rainboots, converse that look like they survived a hurricane, and twelve pairs of tired soccer cleats with holes in the toes. Where you see a small white house I see my childhood. I see my home. A home is nothing if it doesn’t remind you of the things you love. When I am at home I see all the best and the worst times of my life laid out in front of me. A house is full of meaningless objects, a home is filled with memories. Walking into my house you will immediately arrive at the living room. To you, it may only look like a couple of couches and a TV, but I see much more. I see how the Lazyboy is awkwardly shifted out of place because when I was thirteen I spilled an entire bottle of purple nail polish all over the brand new carpet. It did not take long before I realized the stain would not be coming out so I shoved the Lazyboy over it and walked away. To this day I don’t think my parents have noticed anything at all. Next to the Lazyboy you will see a flat screen that looks like nothing special. When I look at that TV I remember the day my dad ran into the house saying he has a surprise for us and then rolling in that TV like it was sent from heaven. I have never seen him prouder in my life. There are things about your home that are special to only you, that’s why it’s your home and only your home. The best part of having a home is being able to look at a piece of it and see a memory. I could show you more and tell you stories of millions of other things that have happened in my home, but that would be like telling you my entire life story and there is simply not enough time in a day. To you, the small white house with the blue door next to the big oak tree looks like some old building. To me, it is the place where I learned to live. It is the place where I figured out who I am today. To you it is a house, to me it is my home.

 

Home Is Where the Soul Is by Aundrea Temple

Many people consider home to “be where the heart is”. I believe home is where the soul is. Soul food to be more specific. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a strong African American Culture with some delicious fried chicken, collard greens and corn bread cooking family members, but I mean the soul food that makes you feel good from the inside out, makes you feel good from deep within your soul. My house can be described like most homes. A physical structure with a roof, front door and windows, working parents and a sibling and furry pet siblings. However, what makes my house a home is walking through the front door on my birthday and smelling the homemade lasagna baking in the oven because my mom knows it’s my favorite meal. The Bratwurst and Sauerkraut cooked every year on Christmas Eve, that is a part of my German heritage and a meal we inherited from grandparents as we continue the tradition. I can walk into anyone’s home, and the unique, mesmerizing smell of my home, cannot be matched. Homemade meals mean that dinner will be eaten as a family together. A time to reminisce about the day. A time to discuss hopes and dreams, prom proposals and test scores and college admissions. It can be quite fascinating how far back in history a family recipe may have been passed down. To know that one day, I will be cooking these meals for my spouse, my family and friends, will be an honor. I will be attending college in the fall this year and my ‘home’ may change many times over the next four years. However, my home will continue to be where the soul food is. The physical home that I grew up in, could burn down or my parents could sell it. I would miss the stairs up to my room and my green painted bathroom with the tropical fish, but I have pictures of those physical locations. However, when I close my eyes, and take a bite of my mom’s lasagna, that is where home is. That overwhelming feeling of time and care it took to make the meal, and knowing my family is close by, that is home. That is where my soul is.

Symphony of Sounds by Julia Holder

If a person walked into my house and asked, “What makes your house a home,” my first response would most likely be, “Pardon? I can’t quite hear you.” The questioning voice would probably be drowned out by piano playing, guitar chords, trumpet fanfares, bouncing basketballs, shrieks of laughter, or by any of the other sounds of chaos and happiness that seem to incessantly sail through our home. While I occasionally wish for a few moments of peace, I often find the greatest sense of calm and comfort in the craziness of our loving home. When a family of 6 includes 5 pianists, 3 guitarists, 3 trumpeters, 2 drummers, 1 bass player, 6 singers, and 1 band director, the numbers clearly don’t add up to 24/7 silence. Music has been one of the most influential parts of my life for as long as I can remember, and it still brings me some of my greatest moments of joy, especially at home. Our living room sometimes looks and sounds more like a busy music studio than it does a formal area for enjoying a cup of tea and sophisticated conversation. Crunched up against the window sits the drum set, just inches away from the piano. Microphones and amplifiers are set up around the furniture, and a guitar or two usually join the crowded scene to put the finishing touch on the family band. Even though the occasional healthy argument interrupts our rehearsals, making music with my family gives us a special bond and provides unique opportunities for memorable performances around the community. Even when we are not making organized music together, our home is filled with the sounds of guitar and piano practice, trumpet duets and trios, and voices belting songs from the showers. As the oldest of four children, I have been able to personally witness the exponential growth of chaos and fun as my brother and two sisters appeared on the family scene. Distant memories of sleeping babies, bedtime stories, and my dad playing classical music on the piano remind me of a more serene home environment. Over the last fourteen years, however, these cute sleeping babies have become vibrant and vocal contributors to the fabric of our family. Our sibling sounds range from laughter and bouncing basketballs to shouting and the sound of bodies tumbling on the floor. Our house is large enough to meet our needs, but small enough that there is no escape from these dedicated human noisemakers. I am not always thrilled with the volume levels as I study for the next test or attempt to get a little extra sleep on the weekend, but this loud sibling love makes our home come alive and helps bring us closer together. To fully appreciate our home, bring along your instruments, your smile, and your enthusiastic zest for life. The continual music, the chaotic background noises, and the incessant sibling banter all soar and swirl together to create a symphony of sounds for the soul.

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