Building Bridges / 4
Local students show off their literary stuff in the 2016 McEntyre Writing Competition
Introduction by Wayne Larsen
In what has become an annual tradition in Westmount schools, the McEntyre Writing Competition always attracts a wide variety of thoughtful and creative entries, and the 2016 edition was no exception.
Endowed by the late Peter McEntyre, mayor of Westmount from 1969 to 1971, the competition encourages young writers to express themselves on a designated topic, each designed to get the creative juices flowing. It is coordinated each year by the Westmount Public Library.
In 2016, “Building Bridges” was the topic assigned to students in grades 1 through 11.
Westmount Magazine presents the full texts of the first-place entries in each grade category, as supplied by the Westmount Public Library.
Here we present Grade 7.
SEVENTH GRADE | FIRST PRIZE | WESTMOUNT HIGH SCHOOL
The Power of Music
On the first day of school, Adnan walked into the huge, maze-like building. He felt scared and confused by the rush of the students around him. The roar and movement of the crowd was overwhelming. Adnan was a twelve year old boy from Syria. He had arrived in Montreal only a week ago and couldn’t speak English or French. Walking in this new school reminded him of his previous one in Aleppo but it was so different. His old school was only a memory now.
Only two months ago, he had been walking home from school and bombs had screamed down from the sky. Adnan was lucky enough to survive. His parents were not. He had started to run, and the last thing he could remember was the ringing tone in his ears and blackness overcoming his vision. The next thing he could remember was waking up on a boat, terrified and alone.
To keep from bursting into tears, Adnan walked determinedly to the first doorway he saw and marched straight in. Luckily it was the main office. At the front desk, there was an elderly woman typing on her computer. Adnan walked up to her, tapped his chest and said, “Adnan Padda.” Surprised, the secretary then said, “Oh, you’re the new student. I’ll lead you to class.” Confused, Adnan followed her to his first period which was Music.
Since it was still the beginning of the day, there were lots of empty seats. Adnan hovered near the doorway wondering where to sit. A short boy with dirty-blond hair came up to him, smiling. The friendly boy then sat down and patted the seat beside him. Adnan hesitantly sat down. The boy pointed to himself and said, “Thomas”, and then pointed to Adnan. Adnan shyly responded, “Adnan Padda”. Adnan might not have realized it, but he had just made his first Canadian friend.
The bell rang to signal the beginning of the period and the teacher came up to the front of the class. She noticed Adnan immediately and smiled at him. She then approached, gave him a firm handshake and handed him a flute. It reminded him of an instrument that he used to play in Aleppo called the arghul. Adnan had played the arghul since he was a little boy and used to entertain his family with it at parties and celebrations. The teacher then returned to the front of the class and started talking. Adnan, understanding nothing, began to despair and wondered how he would ever get through this day.
But when all of the other students started playing their instruments, Adnan put the flute to his lips and tried to improvise. After a few bars, he figured out the melody and did his best to keep time. When the song ended, Thomas leaned towards Adnan; he gave him a pat on the back and a big smile. Adnan returned the smile to Thomas.
The rest of the day was a blur for Adnan. He tried hard to understand what was going on, but couldn’t. After every incomprehensible period, he returned to the main office to figure out where to go next. Fortunately, Thomas was in all of his classes, and helped Adnan get through this overwhelming first day.
After school, Thomas came up to Adnan excitedly, holding a clarinet and a flute. He handed Adnan a paper. On it was a message written in Arabic script! Adnan was shocked! It read: “I translated this into Arabic from the Internet. The music teacher let me borrow these instruments lot a while. Ne always wanted to play a certain song called “Ode to Joy” on my clarinet. I never could, but maybe we could do it together!”
Thomas then led Adnan to his house. For the rest of the day, Thomas taught Adnan some notes. They did all of this without talking! Walking home from Thomas’s house, Adnan realized that it was the first time that he felt happy since coming to Canada. He knew then that if he continued to play music with Thomas he wouldn’t feel as depressed.
From that day forward, at the end of every day, he would play music with Thomas and get closer and closer to learning the song that Thomas wanted to learn: Ode to Joy. Whenever Thomas needed to talk to Adnan, he would translate what he wanted to say through Google translate. It might not have always worked, but Adnan understood.
After a few months Thomas gave Adnan a note saying, “In a few weeks the music teacher will be holding a talent show, do you want to play Ode to Joy with me?” Adnan then responded by giving thumbs-up and a huge smile. Throughout the next few weeks Adnan was extremely nervous but excited. On the night of the talent show, Adnan felt like he was about to explode, he knew that he and Thomas could play Ode to Joy, but it was the first time he performed in front of strangers. When their names were called, Adnan and Thomas came out from behind the curtain and started to play. They started playing simultaneously, loud and clear Adnan then lifted his eyes from his music and their eyes met and they knew that they would never forget this moment for the rest of their lives. They played exceptionally and were given a huge ovation. In the words of Hans Christian Andersen “Where words fail, music speaks.”
McEntyre Writing Competition 2017
The 2017 edition of the McEntyre Writing Competition is currently underway and the theme is “Secret Places, Hidden Treasures”.
You may compete if you go to school in Westmount (elementary or secondary, grades 1–11), live in Westmount, or are a member of a library in Westmount.
Submit your entry to the Children’s Desk, Westmount Public Library, no later than 9 pm on Friday, April 7, 2017.
To find out how to participate, please visit the Library’s website.
Concours littéraire McEntyre 2017
L’édition 2017 du Concours littéraire McEntyre est en cours et le thème est « Des endroits secrets et des trésors cachés ».
Tous les élèves du primaire (1–6) et du secondaire (1–5) qui fréquentent une école de Westmount, qui habitent à Westmount ou qui sont abonnés à une bibliothèque de Westmount peuvent participer au concours.
Tous les textes doivent parvenir à la Bibliothèque publique de Westmount avant 21h le vendredi 7 avril 2017.
Pour savoir comment participer, veuillez visiter le site web de la Bibliothèque.