Fifth Annual Narrative “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest

What happens when you make a choice? A choice that can’t be smoothed over, reconciled, or unmade? That’s a question for the ages—and for story.

In this year’s Narrative “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest, we asked students around the world to address, in a six-hundred-word story or essay, a pivotal choice. These young writers proved they are fearless in mining life’s defining choices, finding grace or humor when it’s in the offing, or, if not, revealing how truly irrevocable choosing can be.

Negotiating the decision to leave one’s family in Cuba for a brighter future; the strain on a young woman with an eating disorder as she navigates a date at a pizza parlor; an empathetic twelve-year-old bullied into dating a boy who threatens her if she doesn’t comply; a philosophical, humorous take on choosing what to have for dinner.

The winning stories are raw and concise, funny and irreverent, incandescent and heartbreaking. Each manages to conjure an entire world and a pivotal choice, all in a compact six hundred words. Whether fiction or nonfiction, the stories read as true—as good stories must.                                                                          —Carol Edgarian

The winners of the Fifth Annual Narrative “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest:


My Rickshaw
Sophomore, Lowell High School, San Francisco


A Numbers Game
Junior, Castilleja School, Palo Alto


The Black Hole
Junior, Appomattox Regional Governor’s School, Petersburg, Virginia


An Ethical Dinner Dilemma
Senior, Lick-Wilmerding High School, San Francisco


Lishan Carroll, Castilleja School
Martin Delgado, King City High School
Matt Drew, Lick-Wilmerding High School
Isabel Hoppmann, Convent of the Sacred Heart
Bella Koschalk, Idyllwild Arts Academy
Zully Lopez, Next Generation Scholars
Chloe Thurmgreene, Lowell High School
Taryn Welch, Clark Pleasant Academy
Willow Walton, Appomattox Regional Governor’s School

Many thanks to the students and staff of our participating schools: Adel-DeSoto-Minburn High School (Des Moines, IA), Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology (Petersburg, VA), Castilleja School (Palo Alto, CA), Clark Pleasant Academy (Whiteland, IN), Conisborough College (London, England), Convent of the Sacred Heart & Stuart Hall High Schools (San Francisco, CA), East Bridgewater High School (East Bridgewater, MA), Eastern Regional High School (Voorhees, NJ), Gardner Edgerton High School (Gardner, KS), Greens Farms Academy (Greens Farms, CT), Gunn High School (Palo Alto, CA), Heritage School (Limassol, Cyprus), Idyllwild Arts Academy (Idyllwild, CA), John Hancock College Prep High School (Chicago, IL), King City High School (King City, CA), KIPP King Collegiate (San Lorenzo, CA), Lowell High School (San Francisco, CA), Lick-Wilmerding High School (San Francisco, CA), New Paltz High School (New Paltz, NY), Next Generation Scholars (San Rafael, CA), Palo Alto High School (Palo Alto, CA), Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea), Southmoreland High School (Alverton, PA), Stanford Online High School (Stanford, CA)

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A short video about the High School Contest:

The Narrative “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest is supported in part by:

And Don’t Miss:

Writing Video Tutorials with Cofounder Carol Edgarian.

Learn more about how we’re supporting teachers and students through the Narrative in the Schools Program.

The Fourth Annual Narrative “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest. Last year, students responded to the prompt The Mistake.