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Showcasing Of High School Age Essay Project Runners-Up Wraps Up



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After a one-week pause due to space constraints, The Newtown Bee’s ‘Why I LOVE Newtown’ Essay Project concludes showcasing our final high school age (*14-18) contributors. We encourage you to read on to discover what today’s featured essay contributors LOVE about their home town:

Katherine Jarvis — Newtown High School

Newtown; Whimsical and irreplaceable.

Newtown. The crisp autumn leaves, the howl in the dead of snowy nights. The beaming of the sun on my skin. The blooming green of spring after Jack Frost has left the state. Everything those in the South yearn for is what we have right out our front door.

Newtown. Littered with memories and filled with old houses, imperfectly perfect with signs of age. Sandy Hook Center, Queen Street, or even Church Hill Road. Not one is better than the next, and what would Newtown be without one?

Sandy Hook; Cute and quaint. The howls and sports-filled spirit of ‘Cover Two’ sits across the pristine and tasteful ‘Foundry.’ There’s a place for everyone here in Newtown.

Queen Street; Dignified and mature. Houses built from those before us, aching to create families that would carry their legacy. They are filled with warm bodies. Eager to decorate the outsides with ghouls at Halloween or reindeer at Christmas. There’s something for everyone here in Newtown, even something for you. Have you seen the flagpole? How can you miss it— tall and mighty, though weak compared to this town’s bond?

Church Hill Road; Busy and reliant. New and old businesses keep us going, filling us with hot coffees or hearty pasta dinners. Holy Cow leaves us longing for those summers to come — but have you been to Ferris Acres yet?

Newtown. While the buildings and streets keep the town alive, we cannot forget the people our town depends on. Every one of us makes Newtown something — new. It is special, not only for the restaurants we built or the trails we paved but also for the people.

The spirit of Newtown is not something Mother Nature can take credit for — what is a town without people? The bond we hold for each other, the nourishment we provide for each other, is something that isn’t found elsewhere.

We know not where we all came from, but where we are now.

Newtown. Wondrous and intimate.

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Kristin Lageman — Newtown High School

What is there not to love? I consider myself very lucky to have grown up in a town where we have every opportunity that I can imagine from sports to clubs to activities. Growing up in Newtown I tried several activities from ballet to basketball and tennis to theater and singing.

After finally finding my passion in theater and singing, what I love most about Newtown is the people. It sounds simple but honestly I don’t know if everyone who lives here really knows how lucky they are. I have made long lasting friends who I know will be my friends forever, no matter where we all end up. My teachers have all been wonderful mentors in their own way and the people in my town are nice, protective and kind. I know these words are simple as well but the true definition of them describes the people in Newtown. Everyone is truly nice to each other, I feel protected by not only my family but my friends, my teachers and my friend’s families as well.

One place in particular in Newtown I feel safe and happy is my choir class at Newtown High.

Our teacher forms a sense of family not only in class but at rehearsals for our seasonal performances and concerts. The friends I have in that group are like brothers and sisters to me. You don’t get this feeling everywhere, but here in Newtown, I have grown to expect that feeling. That feeling of belonging, that feeling of family.

I feel that kindness has been a word you hear so often but it honestly started here in Newtown and you can see it every day. These words do not lose their luster in Newtown, each person I know expresses kindness every day. Parents and teachers constantly encourage us to work hard at our passions and never give up on what we believe in. My friends are compassionate, caring and real. The friendships I have are not just for the moment or just to get through high school. We care for each other and others and we all know it. We trust each other, learn from each other, depend on each other and ultimately provide a relationship that we know will always be there.

In conclusion, why do I love Newtown? I love Newtown because without the people who make it what it is, we would just be “another” town.

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Hannah Eileen Busillo — Newtown High School

N Newtown is not your typical New England town. Besides being home to picturesque landscapes and quaint homes; Newtown is where Scrabble was invented, a long time family favorite. Our hometown paper, The Newtown Bee, has been in publication since June of 1877 giving the community news and event information weekly. We also are home to the infamous Fairfield Hills, a paranormal investigators dream. Our flagpole, although the common point of multiple car crashes is the second oldest in Connecticut.

E Everyone in Newtown has a story to tell about why they’ve stayed, returned or started out here. You could sit at the Blue Colony, Starbucks or any one of our multiple eateries to hear them.

W We have many great restaurants to choose from covering a variety of ethnicities. Making Uber eats decisions difficult.

T The Town Hall and Library offer great opportunities to view and learn about Newtown’s history.

O Our commitment to keeping our town special runs deep.

W Wherever you wander in Newtown you’re sure to come across something you didn’t notice before; a waterfall, a sunset or a beautiful garden.

N Nighthawks is our mascot. Meaning we can rise above all. We, as a community are strong and can fly high.

This is why I love Newtown.

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Lily Mindenhall — Newtown High School

The charm of Newtown is in the subtleties. It’s in the quiet Pootatuck that rolls through the heart of Sandy Hook, and in the reflections it gives. It’s in the duck race that carries our optimism. It’s in the tree lighting at Ram’s Pasture, and the ice skaters who glide over that pond in winter, and in circuits of Fairfield Hills with the ping of baseballs on bats and dogs who nod familiarly in passing.

We’re understated, yet classy. Integrity first — no fast food in Newtown. Family-owned businesses mean loving businesses. The warmth in the bagel shop where Eunice can always be found, a promise for a good day. I think it’s awesome how Cover Two bleeds blue and gold and carries the pride of youth sports. We feel loved by being celebrated on its walls. At every stop, we run into people we know, which is always comforting. We’re all in this together.

I was born in Colorado and moved here from California just before kindergarten. I found history all around us, and within — which is something that I’ve always appreciated. In some towns you learn about the Revolutionary War, but here you walk the same ground the soldiers did. The houses themselves are characters, witnesses to earlier times, safe havens for relatives. When snow falls on Main Street, and the flagpole is seen at a distance, there is no better waving. When Edmond Town Hall shows a movie, there is no better refuge. When the book sale happens in summer, there is no better treasure trove.

Halloween, my favorite time of year, is an event like no other in Newtown, once signaled by a giant pumpkin outside the Blue Colony Diner. Main Street is everything I could ever want. Rows of jack-o-lanterns. Residents who decorate and hand out historic amounts of candy. Parents who see children door-to-door from the old police station to Currituck, just as the chill begins to report in the air.

The seasons of New England paint different scenes over the heart and soul of the town. The Booth Library. St. Rose Church. The Inn. Holy Cow calls when summer suns set. The Meeting House doors spill forth brightly colored wedding parties on Saturday afternoons. The roosters, the weathervanes, the breakfast sandwiches at the General Store that carry impossible prices from bygone days. We have every kind of collar in town, from white to blue, and everyone feels equally essential. Winding, wooded backroads whisper a secret: the perseverance of those who call Newtown home. This place — which only people as wide open to love as we are can fully understand — is connected by time and experience, by the Labor Day parade, by the luminaria that lead to the songs we gather and sing.

I feel lucky to have grown up in Newtown, where even writing competitions like this one tell you everything about our togetherness as a community, which is something that will go on forever.

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Adlien Ekman — Newtown High School

Let’s be honest. We live in a pretty nice town. We have nice parks. We have a nice library. We have a nice school system. We have a nice town hall. We have a nice old insane asylum campus that’s been slowly turned into a community space. But come on, so does almost every other small town in America. (I mean, barring the whole Fairfield Hills thing. I guess we’re at least a little unique.) What I’m trying to get at here is that while the physical properties of Newtown are, to use the word for the sixth time, nice, the real reason I love it is the community. The way this town embraces people with open arms. The way it raised me, held my hand as I hopped from rock to rock and then gently pushed me forward as I prepared to make the biggest jump.

There are so many people I could talk about who have made Newtown home for me. The ones who stand out the most are my teachers. From kindergarten at Sandy Hook Elementary to my sophomore year at Newtown High, each year I have met teachers who inspired me, who developed my passions and helped me grow. They’ve been an essential part of my life. While I may not remember their names or faces in 50 years, I’ll still be reaping from the rewards that they made possible through their passion and dedication.

But this town isn’t just made up of teachers, as lovely as that would be. In Newtown, I’ve found my place among some incredible peers. I can honestly say that my time in NHS has been some of the happiest and fulfilling of my life. (Yes I’ve only been around for 15 years, but you get what I’m saying.) Here, I’ve met some incredible friends and started to feel like I really belong. I’ve been able to be a part of multiple shows and I’ve sung at quite a few choir concerts. I’ve sat around a lunch table almost unable to breathe with laughter as me and my friends tell stories and poke fun at each other.

The people, the opportunities, the memories here have made me who I am today. I’ll never forget the games I played with my friends on the Reed playground, the long hikes through the woods with my family, the high school musicals I watched with wide eyes as I waited for my chance to perform on that stage. I love Newtown because it gave me a community in which I could learn to spread my wings and memories that I can smile back on.

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Gabriel Petertonjes — Newtown High School

Moving to Newtown was not my personal choice. There was no other option. My dad had gotten a job nearby and we had to move. Of course I was nervous as I would be leaving my childhood home and the only place that I had ever lived in. I had to start a new life in a state I had never visited before. Leaving behind friends I grew up with, the familiar places, my swim and soccer teams and teammates, all of this happening in the middle of a pandemic. To top it all off, this all took place halfway through the school year. The poor timing only worsened my sense of dread and left me feeling fearful, upset and reluctant for mine and my family’s next “adventure”. To say I was against the move would be an understatement!

Since we moved the week before Christmas break and it was still virtual, it gave me an opportunity to “meet” my classmates. This was probably a worse start to my new school year than being in person because I had to introduce myself with everyone in the class while being met with more than twenty pairs of eyes staring back at me. However, I still found the first in person day of school after the Holidays to be the most nerve racking day of my life. I walked into unknown territory, expecting everyone to judge me. To my surprise, it was quite the opposite. As soon as I entered the building I was welcomed with open arms. I was greeted by cheerful teacher’s and even more cheerful students ready to give me a tour.

It didn’t stop there. As I progressed through the day, in every single one of my classes there was at least one student who would walk over to introduce themselves to me individually. These small acts really made me feel welcome. These small acts allowed me to be excited to meet new people and make new friends. These small acts are why I love Newtown. Everyone in this town is so caring, it’s unbelievable! Everywhere I went whether it be the community center, sports practices, or just getting a haircut, every single person I encountered always had a welcoming attitude. This whole community made Newtown feel like home, which is something I thought I would never feel again.

Additionally, the quaintness of the buildings and houses in the town really brings a warmth to your soul even in the midst of winter. As summer rolled around it was easy to find a multitude of cool places to hike with nice lakes and rivers to hang out at as well. There were also several opportunities over the summer that the town offered, like concerts at Fairfield Hills or the fair which was super fun to be able to have some fun and meet new people. I could clearly picture myself coming back from college to settle down here. This is why I love Newtown.

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Jennifer Dushi — Newtown High School

The first time I experienced the love of Newtown was on my first ever field trip. I got to partake in the greatest tradition at Middle Gate Elementary School — Little Red Schoolhouse Day. Wearing the most old-fashioned clothes I owned and toting a too-large picnic basket, I was ecstatic to get to sit in this tiny red building and eat lunch on the school lawn with my kindergarten teacher and my friends.

The second time I experienced the love of Newtown was my first time on the third floor of the Cyrenius H. Booth Library. Looking at all the antique belongings of Mary Elizabeth Hawley and hearing about all she did for the town, I felt more loved by her than I ever had by a person I never knew. The third time I experienced the love of Newtown was during my very first ballet performance at Edmond Town Hall. The strangest thing about the stage at Edmond Town Hall is that, even though you don’t notice while you’re on it, it’s incredibly dirty. But none of us ever really complained about our stained shoes.

We just repeated what teachers had told us — “The stage is so dirty because it’s, like, a hundred years old!” The fourth time I experienced the love of Newtown was the first time I drove around the flagpole, with my learner’s permit and my mom in the passenger’s seat. It was possibly the most stressful driving experience of my life, and I complained, as we all have, about the ridiculous choice to put a massive pole in the middle of one of the busiest streets in town. But my complaints were soon forgotten, because there’s something so shocking about the novelty of the flagpole that I really spend most of my time admiring it, along with the tenacity of all the past residents who did everything they could to keep it there.

I only stop admiring it when I have to drive past it. The fifth time I experienced the love of Newtown was the first time I watched the sunrise from the Castle Hill bench. Picture five teenagers waking up at four A.M. and you might picture a moody group, but in reality, we were so awed by the medley of colors lighting up the town that we didn’t start acting moody until about six A.M.. With every experience I’ve had in Newtown, I felt more loved than I ever did anywhere else.

This town provides a beautiful, unparalleled community — every historic building, every small shop, and every bench, sidewalk, or walking trail carries the spirit of every person who was ever there, and this spirit is not only deeply felt, but added on to every day. I love Newtown because Newtown loves me. And with every journey and every lesson learned in this not-so-quintessential town, I feel the love of all the past communities of Newtown just as strongly as I feel the love of the present community.

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Alexia Young — Newtown Middle School

Newtown, Connecticut. 57.66 square miles. Insignificant, to the hundreds of commuters passing on their way to bigger cities, but not exactly better. These people don’t give a second glance at the exit. Of course, it’s impractical to look down on these people, as they’ve never tried the waffles at Blue Colony Diner, or stopped for chocolates at Castle Hill. They’ve never circled the Flagpole, and watched the Nutcracker at the Edmond Town Hall in December. I assure you, if they did, they would feel the love I feel everyday.

Founded in 1711, we pride ourselves on being a picturesque New England small town, a prime example of it, really. Our brilliantly colored leaves rain down on children as they run, jump, play at Dickinson Park in October. We gather in Sandy Hook downtown to watch the place turn into a winter wonderland as the majestic evergreen trees are lit. Ferris Acres Creamery hands out the most delicious ice cream around in the sweltering summer heat. Throughout the seasons, Newtown is bursting with love.

It’s been 8 years since we arrived in the idyllic town that we call home. That’s eight summers grabbing ice cream friends, eight winters of sledding. Eight years of learning just how special this town is. Eight years is enough time to know why I love Newtown.

Newtown is special, you see, not because of our events, or schools, but for the experiences we have. To us our everyday lives are seen as simple and normal, but to others, we are living dream.

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Grant Crossman — Newtown Middle School

My hometown of Newtown is a wonderful place to live. There are dozens of reasons which make it a great place to live, work, and raise a family. Here are just a few to give you an idea of what makes this little town so wonderful.

Coming in at the top is the strong sense of community and camaraderie that accompanies living here. We are a close knit community with a strong Newtown spirit! This is showcased by the many events hosted here, like Halloween on Main Street, the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and the Labor Day Parade. Halloween on Main Street has always been particularly memorable for me. It has become a family tradition to meet up with friends to trick-or-treat and marvel at all of the decorated homes. It’s a magical night hosted by our town.

Another great aspect of Newtown are all of the amazing schools. Being a student of Newtown High School, I can vouch that they only get better as the grades move up! More activities, more courses, and more wonderful teachers to aid us in our journey to success. When I first entered Newtown High School and realized how many courses and activities there were, I felt both overwhelmed and excited for all the things I would get to experience in the years to come!

Another one of my favorite things about Newtown is the close connection it has to nature. We are neither too rural nor too urban. As you drive around town you can take in all of the beautiful scenery and historic homes. If you are lucky you might even get to see some interesting wildlife. Over the years, my family has had the privilege of watching bobcats, foxes, deer, turkeys and even bears! My mother, being an artist, always enjoys the peace and nature around our house, taking every opportunity to capture some birds at the feeder or even the occasional owl in a photograph, which she may later make into her next big project! Newtown has the perfect balance between nature and town.

I love Newtown for all of these reasons. If you’re looking for a small town with a big heart, this really is the place for you.

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Matthew Holden — Newtown High School

One of my earliest memories takes place under an overhang at Head O’Meadow Elementary, on a warm Fall day a couple of months after my fourth birthday. I remember sitting with my mom waiting for my preschool to open for the day, and counting to 100 for the first time in my life. I remember it felt like an eternity, counting 1, 2, 3… 15, 16, 17.

I remember as more of my classmates arrived and sat with their parents waiting for the doors to open. 29, 30, 31. I remember the last day of Kindergarten at Sandy Hook, watching the graduation ceremony. 37, 38, 39. I remember standing by the pond in the Ram Pasture and feeding the geese bits of bread. 44, 45, 46. I remember field day at the end of fourth grade, running around with my friends and classmates 52, 53, 54.

I remember taking a picture with our hands around a banner saying We were loved at Sandy Hook School. 59, 60, 61. I look over at my dresser now and I see that picture and remember. 65, 66, 67. I remember Cub Scout meetings at Sandy Hook Firehouse, playing tag and running down the aisles between the fire trucks. 71, 72, 73. I remember watching all the bright yellow rubber ducks pass by on the stream in Sandy Hook Center, wondering which was mine. 75, 76, 77. I remember racing to get back in line for my favorite ride at the Saint Rose Carnival. 79, 80, 81.

I remember marching in the Labor Day parade, carrying the flag with my Boy Scout Troop. 82, 83, 84. I remember walking down to the C.H. Booth Library with my class for a field trip in eighth grade. 85, 86, 87. I remember walking with my friends through Queen Street Plaza, going from store to store. 88, 89, 90. I remember the view from the top of Holcombe Hill. 91. I remember watching my sister’s basketball games at Hawley. 92.

I remember going boating out on Zoar Lake. 93. I remember walking the quiet back roads near my house. 94. I remember sledding down the hills at Treadwell after a recent snowfall. 95. I remember trying to catch Crayfish in the stream at Dickinson. 96. I remember waiting in long lines at Ferris Acres. 97. I remember that it was always worth it. 98. I remember going for walks at Fairfield Hills with my family. 99. I can see in my mind that beautiful view of Main Street that you can see from the top of the hills nearby. I can see the flagpole, the flag blowing in the breeze. I can see the steeples of the meeting house and the church in my mind. I will never forget that view. 100.

Why do I love Newtown? Because for me, it’s full of unforgettable memories. And because I know that there will always be more to be made.

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Jackson Brady Baimel — Newtown High School

The Town We Call Home

If you asked me what I love about Newtown, I’d tell you I love a lot of things.

I love waking up in the morning to the sunrise with its bright yellow glow.

I love the smell of rain, snow and slush in the winter months that we can’t control.

I love the way the bus is clean but not spotless, showing the marks we all leave behind.

I love getting things wrong over and over and over again, just to finally get it right.

I love the puzzle in the high school library.

I love the look on my teachers’ faces when they can tell that I truly care.

I love snagging the best sandwich you could ask for from Patty’s Pantry when I have a spare moment.

I love seeing my friends, week after week at scout meetings, club dates and school events.

I love driving from main street, through brushy hill, to poverty hollow for a friend, only to realize I should’ve taken 302.

I love the squeaks of joy I hear every day when I get home from a certain furry friend.

I love calling my grandparents, who wish they could be here.

I love taking walks in the woods that never end.

I love hugging (not smothering, c’mon) my cat every few days when I feel lonely.

I love hearing the announcements half a mile away from Middle Gate.

I love the flagpole, and how everyone seems to go past it.

I love smelling the outside air after being inside all day.

I love the town library and the Makers’ Space that showed me 3d printing.

I love the softness of my bed, and the security I know I’ll have at the end of each day.

I love the unity this town feels each and every day.

I love the tits and tats of rain hitting my window in summer and spring alike.

I love falling asleep to the sunset with its sweet orange light.

But most of all, I love Newtown for what it represents.

Newtown represents a place that has gone through everything and manages to keep moving forward,

Newtown represents the place where my friends and family are, and for now will largely be,

Newtown represents a town with the brightest sunrises and darkest sunsets,

and Newtown represents the town that we all call home.

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**Some 14-year-old contributors attend Newtown Middle School.

This concludes our presentation of essay project submissions. Thank you to all those who participated. Look for coverage of finalist awards in the May 26 edition of The Newtown Bee.

The opportunity to put into writing what future adult community members and leaders love about Newtown begins this week. Cash prizes will be awarded early in the new year to six middle and high school students. —Newtown Bee graphic
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