McEntyre Competition:
An Unexpected Kindness /6

Local students show off their literary stuff in the 2018 McEntyre Writing Competition

Introduction by Wayne Larsen
Illustrated by Jennifer Cook

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 2018 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 2018, “An Unexpected Kindness” 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. As well, this year these will be accompanied by Westmounter Jennifer Cook’s charming illustrations.

Here we present Grade 7.


Olivia Tussman

What Comes Around Goes Around

Grey wasn’t a happy kid. He never socialized with anybody at his school because he felt like he didn’t fit in. His home life wasn’t the best. His father had left when he was around three, which was six years ago. Today, Grey is nine years old and living with his mom who is an alcoholic. They lived in a very small apartment with barely any money or food. They moved around a lot because the rent was never paid and Grey was again starting a new school year at a different school.

The day before school started, Grey’s mom had come home very late and had completely forgotten about her sons first day of school. The little boy with raggedy clothes and no lunch had arrived at his first day alone. He was embarrassed seeing every kid walking in with a lunch and a mom holding his hand. He ignored it and went to his first period class. Some kids started introducing themselves and all Grey could think about was how every kid had something good to say about their family or how loving they were. When it had come to his turn all he said was, “No thanks.”

Soon, it was lunch time, everybody’s favorite part of the day except for Grey’s. He walked into the class where the other students ate their lunch. He didn’t have anything to eat, so he went into the bathroom stall and just sat there waiting for the bell to go off so that lunch could be over.

After walking home alone, Grey found his mom sitting on the couch waiting for him.

“I-I-I’m so s-s-sorry that I forgot about your first day of school,” his mom said intoxicated.

Grey knew his mother was drunk. He poured himself a bowl of cereal, did his homework, took a shower, went up into his room and tucked himself into bed and fell asleep.

This routine went on every day for the next couple of weeks. He went to school trying to make as little eye contact with anyone in case he had to answer questions about himself. He would get through the day, quietly doing his work. Recess would be spent in the corner reading a book and at lunch hour when the kids ate in their classrooms, he would ask to be excused to the bathroom where he would take a really long time getting back to class. He never had a lunch and he didn’t want that fact to be discovered.

However, there was one day that changed his whole school year.

Grey wasn’t having a good day. He got a bad result on his test, his mom was in a bad mood and he felt sick. In class, he was not paying attention or doing any work. The dreaded lunchtime had arrived and the children were asked to take out their lunches. As usual, Grey asked to go to the washroom to wash his hands. When he returned, he opened up his desk to fake taking something out. But on this day, when he opened it, there was a sandwich in a plastic bag. He was so surprised but had mixed emotions of happiness and embarrassment. Did someone notice that he wasn’t eating lunch? He looked at the sandwich and he was so hungry that none of this mattered. He just opened the bag and quickly ate it.

“Who could have done this for me?” he asked to himself.

He looked around the class but all the other students were minding their own business. The ham and cheese sandwich tasted delicious.

For the next three months at school he would find a sandwich in his desk every day without knowing who was putting it there.

He sat in his classroom eating the delicious sandwich and looking around the class thinking, “Could it be her?” “Could it be him?” There were too many kids to choose from.

When classmates spoke to him at school now, his reactions to them were different because he wondered if it was that person who was providing him with his lunch. He started talking to people and actually making friends because he felt grateful for whoever was being so kind.

Grey was finally happy going to school. His attitude about his classmates changed, he had friends now who he played with outside of school.

Grey had a great summer with all his new friends. He entered Grade 4 more sure of himself and he began finding some snacks at home to take with him during the school day. But those sandwiches still kept appearing in his desk. Grey didn’t question it anymore, he just accepted this act of kindness and appreciated it.

The second week of school began and there was a new student in the class. Her name was Jade. Grey tried to speak to her, but she was very standoffish. He noticed she didn’t have a lot of friends and didn’t make eye contact. He also noticed that every day at lunch she would ask to be excused and come back much later.

He loved the look on her face when she returned one day and opened up her desk to find a snack and half of a ham and cheese sandwich.

Illustration: Jennifer CookBouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre –

Read also: McEntyre Competition: An Unexpected Kindness /5

Jennifer Cook –

Jennifer Cook, with over 28 years in graphic design, brings her expertise to each creative solution she produces for businesses world-wide. Paired with her love of research, she learns the soul of each client’s story to build a successful visual portfolio, which can include a combination of strategic graphic design, brand development, illustration, and social media. For fun, she started a daily illustrated social media series What my Coffee says to me to inspire and promote good mental health. To find out more on how she can meet your visual marketing needs, contact her at

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