'Promise' is the winner of The National Short Story Week Young Writer Competition 2015 for year 7.
'The Promise' A short story by Sam Cohen; Age 12; Dulwich Prep London, relaying a father's dilemma for the sake of his son's life.
2nd July 2015 — The Promise
My son, Akimbo, are you ok? He lay with his head resting back on the white clay, his slow steady breathing, rasping and hissing like a rattlesnake. I could tell he was hungry, begging God for a little more food, something to stop the rumble of his bloated belly. He wished for the food we did not have. Tearfully, I carried him back into the mud hut, “Akimbo I promise that by tomorrow I will have food and water to feed us both. Understood?” He nodded weakly as I placed his skeletal body down like a priceless artefact. I waited in the room and watched his chest rise and fall until he slowly drifted off to sleep. The drought had dried up all of our land, cracked our soil and defied any growing blade of green. It had come at a heavy cost.
I remembered what it was like four years ago, when life was good. We had a little blue and white house that Akimbo and I had once painted one afternoon. We lived happily together at the end of the village and luckily it was the only house near to the jungle so we got some privacy, unlike most of the others. Akimbo would play with his friends and eat the delicious fruits we had bought at the market or grown on our trees. I would sit on a bench with his mother, Chiamaka and watch the wild dogs and birds go about on their daily routine. I loved spending time imagining what the future would be like, if we would have a servant of our own and endless amounts of food or if we would just remain as we were. Either way I would be just as happy. Life drifted on until the sun refused to allow the rains to come. Our well dried up, our crops did not grow, and we grew tired and weak. My wife had to travel further for water, dig deeper for food. This extra work took its toll on both of us.
They said it was the water that did it. She became sick. Her skin turned yellow and seemed to cling to her every bone. She barely had strength to stroke her son's hair as he lay next to her. She held her smile in her eyes until the heavens took her from our lives, leaving an empty space.
That was when everything fell apart. I was too sad and heavy to go out to work. The local children chanted and laughed at Akimbo for having a father who just stared forward, in a trance. When I finally recovered I had no fields, no seeds to plant, no harvest to collect and still no wife. We had to move into a small crumbling hut that seemed to face away from the village with its shame.
People had heard of our fate, yet it was the wrong sort of people who took interest in our plight. Three days after moving into the mud hut I was introduced into the biggest mistake of my life. Poaching.
The early morning sun was warm, heating up the clay soil beneath my feet. The warmth of it crept into my body, however I knew that later the ground would fry your feet like eggs in a pan. As our food was still scarce, I decided to save the last grubby bread crust for Akimbo. Reaching for my rifle I examined it to make use of time. Its handle was made out of a honey-coloured wood probably taken from one of the forest trees. It was beautiful, the way it was varnished, the way it was carved. I loved and cherished every splinter. The barrel was a different matter. It was covered in dents, beginning to rust and was made of an ugly matte grey metal forged in a black market of some sort. The gun was a mystery to me how at one end it was warm and beautiful then at the other end it was a cold killing machine. After staring at it for a few more minutes I realised it was warm and the animals were probably out of their hidings.
Once I had followed the secret route I found that lead to a police safe zone I started my search.
The sun was setting as I began to give up. Nothing had been strolling around in the fields, in the bushes not even in the sky. I had failed my son and we would have no food for another night and tonight might be Akimbo's last. Suddenly, I heard a slight thump that was slowly getting louder and louder. I crept into a ditch. Surrounded by nettles and vines, I raised my rifle. Slowly yet gracefully I watched an old enormous elephant stumble into the open field leaving her only protection, the wilderness. One elephants tusk was worth at least six million, I stopped and imagined the riches that we would have, food for a life time, a big house and most importantly, respect. Snapping back into the real world I raised my rifle and aimed, fingers trembling. Looking through the scope I realised how beautiful this creature was, its grey, leather skin looked thick enough to be on a king's throne and its eyes were like nuggets of amber glowing with light. I could tell that it was full of wisdom and was one of the leaders in the jungle.
This was the noise I heard before the elephant slumped towards the ground like a rag doll. His trunk reaching skyward as its legs crumpled under his weight. The sight of crimson blood trickling down from its amber eyes like tears was sickening. My mission was accomplished, I stumbled, my stomach heaving, my eyes could not move from this grey majestic beast that was still. I realised what I had done was repulsive. Had keeping my promise been worth this life?
Haileybury Prep and Primary Schools' Festival of Arts
Haileybury Prep & Primary Schools' Festival of Arts. Dulwich Prep entered ten pieces for this major festival and are delighted that Max Ginn , Age; 9 and Rohan Selva-Radov, Age; 9 came first and runner up in the Years 5 and 6 category with their Dry point etchings of the landscape inspired by looking at the work of Vincent Van Gogh.
19th May 2015 — Haileybury Prep & Primary Schools’ Festival of Arts
Dulwich Prep entered ten pieces for this major festival and are delighted that Max Ginn , Age; 9 and Rohan Selva-Radov, Age; 9 came first and runner up in the Years 5 and 6 category with their Dry point etchings of the landscape inspired by looking at the work of Vincent Van Gogh.
‘The number of entries this year has again exceeded expectation, making the judging of the hundreds of entries both daunting and entertaining for both our Heads of Art and English. Again it was an extremely challenging task to pick the very best work’.
Awards Ceremonies Saturday 6 June
We look forward to seeing all those whose entries have been nominated above, at our Art Awards Ceremony on Saturday 6 June. The exhibition marquees will be open from 9.30am for families to view their children’s work, with both the Art and Creative Writing Awards Ceremonies in our venue – Big School starting at 10.30am for Creative Writing and 12.30pm for Art, and the exhibition itself remaining open until 3.30pm.
Does a new cricket bat really help you score more runs?
The opening of the New Science and Technology ; The Pennock Centre.
14th May 2015 — I remember getting my first proper cricket bat like it was yesterday. I sized up many alternatives and settled on the one I thought was going to help me hit the biggest sixes. I was convinced it was going to be the key that unlocked my first century. It served me well but was it really the bat that got the runs?
January saw the opening of a brand new Science and Technology Centre at Dulwich Prep London. This is our new cricket bat if you like.
Cutting-edge technologies are enabling students to push their work to the next level. An open-plan layout with new machinery will help develop new skills in Design Technology. Lasers are used in conjunction with specific computer programs, all being operated from a purpose-built CAD Suite. The glass-fronted Science labs have secondary school-style provision in bright airy spaces. The building has an open roof area which can be turned into an outdoor classroom. Photovoltaic cells generate electricity with the readings from the cells displayed for the children to monitor. An observatory with an array of three telescopes sits on the roof enabling the boys to learn more about our solar system. The ground floor includes a cookery suite and has enabled us to add cookery to our carousel of creative subjects. Yet the impact of the building will go far beyond its walls and the hardware it contains. Inspirational facilities inspire inspirational teaching and thus inspirational learning.
Although my new cricket bat was bigger and heavier than its predecessor, I now realise that it was not the bat itself, but the fact of simply having a new bat that had the greatest impact on my run-scoring ability. It improved my confidence, giving me the lift I needed to take my batting to the next level. The new Science and Technology Centre at Dulwich Prep London will do the same for our boys, helping them to become the scientific run-scorers of the future.
Dulwich Prep London are delighted that Devan's story submitted to BBC Radio 2's 500 words competition was successfully shortlisted to the final 50 entries (out of 120,420). We are delighted that Devan will be attending the live final event at St James's Palace at the end of May when he will meet with the Duchess of Cornwall who is hosting a special reception after the event. Our congratulations to Devan and we wish him well for the final next month.
12th May 2015 — Devan’s story submitted to BBC Radio 2’s 500 words competition and successfully shortlisted to the final 50 entries (out of 120,420). Dulwich Prep London are delighted that Devan will be attending the live final event at St James’s Palace at the end of May when he will meet with the Duchess of Cornwall who is hosting a special reception after the event. Our congratulations to Devan and we wish him well for the final next month. The story as follows:
I was born when a human pulled me out of my packaging. I heard rustling, crumpling and eager voices shrieking: “Don't forget to read the instructions!” Initially my ears were alive with sounds but I saw nothing. Then suddenly my lens cap was removed and I could see. Movement and shapes preceded vivid colours. As I looked round, I stopped and focused on an adorable little human in a larger being’s arms. I blinked in a suffusion of light and the moment was captured forever.
Sometimes I was asked to record moving picture and sound. I saw the little human's first tooth, and witnessed his first step and recorded his first word. I started to feel – yes, actually feel - warmth every time I winked at him. I loved him so much, even when he smothered me in chocolate spread! He became a child then an adolescent and an adult. His whole life was recorded in my memory. His name was George.
I travelled the world with George and his family capturing their laughs and experiences. I was treasured.
When I saw George leave for university I experienced my first negative emotion. I was angry and upset that education was so important to humans that they sent their children away from home. I sulked in my box for 5 long years.
The next time I blinked, I saw a handsome young George with a beautiful woman wearing a long white dress. I recorded many happy memories of them and one day a tiny human appeared in their arms. With immense pride I recorded these words. “This is our new born son, Charlie. He weighs seven pounds."
I fell asleep for a few years but my dreams were vivid. I relived all my memories, feeling, seeing, and hearing everything as if for the first time. When I woke up I was overwhelmed with excitement. I knew it was George's fortieth birthday and I couldn't wait to see him. I was pulled out of my case but before long I felt wet drops land on me even though there was no rain. Where was George? I knew his warm gentle hands, but they weren't holding me. I opened my eye as wide as I could - still no George. Then I saw it - a Union Jack on a long wooden box being placed into a hole in the ground. A cold grey stone protruded from the earth. My George was dead. I felt as if all the mechanisms inside me were ripped out. I felt as if my lens was shattered. I wanted to be dead but I wasn't. I could still feel, and it hurt. I closed my eyes and saw nothing again for many decades.
Suddenly I woke up to see faces leering and fingers pointing at me through a glass screen. I had outlived four generations and I found myself in a museum. The title of the display was 'Objects that were once useful'.
The Saatchi Gallery/ Deutsche Bank Art Prize for Schools and Young Art, Cancer Research UK Award
Dulwich Prep London are delighted to announce that two boys have come runners up in these prestigious awards in the same week. The Saatchi award was judged out of 20 thousand entries from 33 countries. The Cancer Research Young Art prize was judged from over seven thousand entries. Edit
THE 2015 SAATCHI GALLERY/DEUTSCHE BANK INTERNATIONAL ART PRIZE FOR SCHOOLS Last week Dulwich Prep Art Department had a very busy and exciting week with two major award ceremonies. The first was the award ceremony at the Saatchi Gallery, which is one of the most prestigious galleries in London. Over two hundred guests were in attendance. Alastair Hicks the curator of the Art collection at Deutsche Bank made the announcements with an insight into the winners' works. Dulwich Prep are delighted to announce that John Bowron; Age 12 years has come runner up in this prestigious art award. 1208 schools entered the competition from 33 countries with over 20,000 pieces submitted. The Awards' ceremony took place on the 28th April, at the Saatchi Gallery, London. From the 20,000 entries, 20 were shortlisted and on show at the awards' ceremony. The exhibition continued into the first week of May. John was presented with a cheque for £1,000 and the Art department, £5,000. John's study is based on a still life, which was photographed, drawn then abstracted into colour using mixed media and then layered into a coloured collage piece. Dulwich Prep London won the award in 2010/11. ROYAL COLLEGE OF ART; YOUNG ART CANCER RESEARCH UK COMPETITION AND EXHIBITION The second event was Wednesday the 29th May at the Royal College of Art; London, where John Abboodas ; Age 8 years was awarded second place in the Years 4 to 6 category with his detailed graphite pencil study of a London view. This was chosen from several thousand entries and is a fund raising event for Cancer Research UK. John was awarded a set of Acrylic paints. Once again the exhibition was very well attended. Well done to the boys! Dulwich Prep are highly delighted and proud of you, as I know are both sets of family. Second Place John; Cityscape; from Dulwich Prep London Royal College Art