Back To School Contest—2020

Almost all of us can wander the hallways of our mind and find many memories from our days in school. There you’ll see… Bright moments of glory, dark hours of despair. Beloved friends, reviled enemies. Skin-tingling excitement, crushing boredom. These memories helped make you what you are.

We invited you to share a memory about school in 20 words or fewer. Anything from a toddler class to a college experience.

Here we present the winner and finalists:


Megan’s cursive is so Megan: Plump and luscious a’s and p’s, flush with the line. God, I hate her.

Jen Stocks
Pittsboro, North Carolina


He broke my heart. I broke into his locker. Stole his shirt. Burned it. Put the ashes back inside.

Stirling Moriah

We wrote our secret language in chalk on the playground asphalt, so the rain would carry it into the streets.

Sylvi Stein
New York, New York

Nothing seals your fate at the beginning of high school like being singled out at assembly for your firm handshake.

Georgie Young
Paris, France

I saw my teacher in the wild. She bought eggs at the bodega. Fifth grade was never the same.

Julia Swearer
Taftsville, Vermont

In 1980, my seventh-grade swagger came from a Trapper Keeper and an Erasermate. I still sat alone at lunch.

Aileen Ruiz

When Sister Gerald, an unstoppable force, bounced the eraser off my head in Geometry, I still remained an unmovable object.

Felicia Carparelli
Chicago, Illinois