Unalaska freshmen raise funds for their class with homemade sweets and original short stories
Stories of friendship, first loves, identity and family conflict filled the Burma Road Chapel last Tuesday evening, as Unalaska High School’s freshman class shared a collection of original short stories for the island’s first “Stories and Sweets” event.
The teens each wrote a creative piece for their English class and presented their work at the fundraising event, which gathered around 50 Unalaskans. Parents, staff, friends and family showed up to support the young writers and purchase home-baked goods to help fund school events for the Class of 2025.
Three students read their short stories aloud to the audience, while another couple dozen showcased printed versions of their work that community members could read.
Kristal Tacata, one of those three students who volunteered to read, shared her story, “Choices,” with the audience.
“It's about this girl,” Tacata said. “She breaks up with her boyfriend and she meets another guy. And she doesn't really know what to do — she's like in a love triangle, basically.”
While this was her first time sharing her work to an audience, Tacata said she wasn’t very nervous.
In fact, these short stories were a first for most of the teens at the event, but they presented their work with cool composure, brandishing dramatic irony, polished dialogue skills, allusion and humor admirably, as if they’d done it many times before.
Lauren Crosby, the 9th grade English teacher and freshman class advisor, said the inaugural event came about organically.
“The idea stemmed from reading those first drafts,” Crosby said. “That's when I said, ‘Hey, let's do something with these,’ because they were so good. Some just really stood out.”
She called the fundraiser a “project-based learning event.” That’s in part because the students organized it themselves. Another aspect of project-based learning, according to Crosby, is that the students’ work is integrated into the community. She said that involvement outside the classroom is also a great way to motivate the teens.
“I feel like students perform better and make better work if they know they're going to be sharing it somewhere, or [if] there's a purpose for it,” she said.
Some of the writers drew inspiration from paintings, some from real-life experience, and others from movies they’d seen. And while Halloween had passed by the time they presented their stories, it was clear many of them had tales of horror and mystery on their minds as they were writing.
“A kid is homeless and an old man takes him in, but it turns out the old man is evil and kidnaps children,” said one of the young writers, James Morrison. “He locks them in his basement.”
One student showcased her story about a bus driver who traps kids in a cave. And Jenelle Remolino wrote a story about a highschooler who gets held hostage by a fellow classmate, Rodney. Just when the reader thinks the hostage has escaped to freedom, her captor makes a final, haunting appearance.
“As she was getting into Rodney’s car, trying to escape, she was fixing her rearview mirror [and saw] Rodney behind the car seat, smirking at her,” Remolino said.
Overall, Crosby said the teens raised just under $870 with their fresh baked goods and creative, if not macabre, musings.