The Official Writing Challenge
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The prose caught the atmosphere in the hall, and the poem captured teenage pain very well. Good job!
This story and poem had a haunting but realistic atmosphere to it. The feelings of your MC probably mirror those of many college graduates about to step into the complex adult arena.

I especially liked this stanza of the poem: "We’re the half-grown adults
Sneaking into reality
Dipping our toes in the water of your world
Testing the waves of insecurity"

I was impressed with Shelby's honesty and desire to be "real" as she faces her new life.
I thought this captured the angst of teenage insecurity extremely well - the nervousness on stage, the gut-wrenching honesty of the poetry, the painful rejection of the message by the adults, and finally in the way that the girl donned her cap and gown and thus submerged her individuality in the mass of the other graduands. Brilliant.
Boy, have I ever been here before: "My mind blanked."
I really liked the way you set this story up to tell the poem, showing the inner anguish of the importance of the poem to the MC as well as its meaning. I think you conveyed the angst of the young graduate very well and how great the divide is between teen and adult and how the world is perceived. Good job!
I loved the realness of your story and your poem. You had some great pictures of youth, and some wonderful lines. The "half-grown adults sneaking into reality" was my favorite. You have a gifted "pen," Dear.
This was so well done. You really captured the atmosphere. Then the brilliant poem, and finally back to the reaction to it. Wonderful!
You captured the emotions of a young lady about to enter an adult world very well. Two thumbs up.
Very real, Sara! I love that you can cut through the facade and show reality.
Wow, this was very powerful! Very vivid writing. Well done!
Man, you took me right back to those days just before I was forced into the adult world. So many confusing reactions--mature/immature--all at once! Great writing and descriptive phrases.