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A few of our favorite places

From the top of the tallest tree to the bottom of the Long Center's pool, young writers, artists and photographers regaled us with their descriptions of their favorite places. Our pages couldn't hold them all, though, so more Favorite Places will be published in Xpressions later. Thanks to St. Paul's School in Clearwater for this theme idea. And if you would like to see your good work published here, please see the directions on page 6E.

_ Nancy Green, Xpressions editor

From Sue Terry's seventh-grade language arts students at Carwise Middle in Palm Harbor:

Everyone seems to have a favorite place, somewhere they feel secure and safe, where they can forget everything and relax. I can do all this at the local hospital _ not when I am sick, but when I visit my sick grandma.

No one knows how long they will live, so I help her forget about death and think about the good moments in life, instead. When I am with her, we talk about the very important things, like having a loving family, spending quality time with them, and living life with a positive attitude. A hospital may seem like an unusual favorite place, but a special person is what makes a place so comfortable.

Scott Crawley, 12

The cool, salty air blows into my face. As I look around, I see a white, three-story house sitting right on the beach. It looks like it is surrounded by gold as the sun slowly rises behind it. This is my favorite place. It's my grandmother's home in New Jersey. I love its cool breeze and privacy. The house sits on 20 acres of land. The bay is behind the house and, in front, there are wetlands and a wooded area. At the edge of the bay where the water meets the sand, there is a pile of large black rocks placed there to keep the sand from washing away. This is my favorite spot of all. I love to sit there by myself and feel the cool breezes coming off the water. Everything is quiet and I am at peace.

Erica Huff, 12

My grandma's garden is my favorite place. There are many wonderful places on Earth; however, to me this garden seems magical. When I'm in it I feel as if time has stopped and all my worries have disappeared.

Ewelina Wylaz, 12

My favorite place is Iran. When my family and I moved to America, I felt a little sad. In Iran it snows almost every winter. My friends and I would make snowmen and chase each other in the cold, soft snow. The freezing, chilly wind would hit our faces, but we didn't care. In the summer my friend and I would pick some fruits from the trees in her garden. I'll never forget the fresh, juicy berries we ate together. In the fall, my classmates and I would make a big pile of colorful leaves and jump in them while the soft breeze would hit us. In the spring we could smell beautiful, colorful blossoms.

Paria Mazareei, 13

My favorite place isn't peaceful or quiet. There are noisy, messy children running around. Exhausted group leaders are trying to control the rowdy kids. Then there are my comical, fun-loving friends. To an outsider this may seem like a nightmare. However, there is no place I'd rather be. My friends' ages range from 6 to 25, and every day, another memory is made. I feel safe in this fun and light-hearted environment, and one of the group leaders is my kind brother, Adam. Not many people can say that they have a place where they are safe, have family with them and are having a blast! I can say all that and more about my favorite place: YMCA summer camp at Highland Lakes Elementary.

Amber Taylor, 12

The Eiffel Tower and the Great Wall of China are painted on the walls of my favorite place _ my bedroom. In my room I am all around the world at once, and yet, when I look out my window, I see my big back yard.

Tara LaBrecque, 12

My favorite place in the world is very loud and exciting: I love to be behind home plate at a softball game, catching. I love having to be there so the game can go on. The first time I tried it, I loved it. I knew that I had found my favorite place!

Erin Foley, 12

Ever since I was little, I have loved the lake. The first time I saw it I said, "Grandma, there is sand at the bottom of this pool." We still laugh about it.

Amy Little, 12

My favorite place is the Keys because I love to be on the water. When I'm snorkeling, I feel like no one is present, yet I feel surrounded by an army of bodyguards. When I'm done snorkeling, I wander about the sandy shoreline seeking out exotic looking shells.

Andrew Esker, 13

If I had my choice, I would spend my days and nights next to the tall net on the volleyball court. I love the smell of new rubber-soled court shoes, fresh out of the box. Water tastes best, cold and crisp, after a hard workout on the court. I love the excited sounds of the girls on my team, calling for the ball and then running to get it. My favorite place is a combination of sights, sounds, smells and big quantities of energy: I love being a small part of that big game.

Karly Gilchrist, 12

The busy streets, lots of people, and great shopping are just a few of the reasons New York City is my favorite place. The city of New York, also known as the city that never sleeps, is always brewing with action. I can't resist the smell of hot dogs and pretzels that fills my nose as we are waiting to cross a busy street corner. As I walk briskly through Central Park, I almost forget that I'm in the heart of a huge city.

Jessica Primiani, 12

Not one person would turn down a free trip to this place, with its cool climate and fresh, comforting winds. The greatest sight here is the wonderful, towering mountains covered with luscious green trees and warm, wooden cabins. There also are tons of white rivers filled to the brim with icy water and rainbow trout that flow merrily downstream. I also love this place because I am with my family. We love to sit at a table in front of a warm fire and play cards, or just chat about our days and laugh. This place is the gentle, yet fantastic, North Carolina.

Miles Toli, 13

I like being on the 50-yard-line in the front row, watching my home team carry the football into the end zone at the fabulous Raymond James Stadium. I love being one person in a party of 65,000 fans there for the same reason _ to show off their team spirit. To me, going to a live football game with thousands of excited fans is a larger-than-life experience. Raymond James Stadium is my favorite place, supporting my home team, win or lose. Go, Bucs!

Haley Syvrud, 12

My favorite place is the small, quaint community of Mountain View, Ark. The Ozark Mountains are beautiful, and I enjoy breathing the fresh air. In the winter, my family and I like to go sledding. In the spring, I enjoy going on long hikes through the mountains and galloping through the big fields and streams. In the summer, my mom's side of the family comes and we do lots of different activities. In the fall, the leaves on the trees change colors, and at this time we usually round up my grandfather's cows.

Lindsey Emerson, 12

I hear the roar of the ocean as I look out into the horizon. The sounds of street performers and the smells of saltwater taffy and funnel cakes on the boardwalk have faded into the distance as I concentrate on the beautiful sunset before me. The sand sticks to my skin as I feel the cool night breeze of the North Atlantic Ocean. I can hear the excited voices of children playing in the arcades, blending into the sound of crashing waves on the beach. Although the beach itself looks almost untouched by man, the colorful lights of the carnival rides reflect in the water. As the sun quietly disappears over the ocean, I know I love this place, and I can't wait to come back tomorrow.

Ally Bowers, 12

My absolute favorite place in the world is the West Lake Village Clubhouse. It has a humongous pool, and an awesome room filled with a pool table, a television and extremely comfy couches. There is an Early American cabin look and feel to it. There is always something fun to occupy your times, whether it is crafts, video games, swimming or just simply hanging with friends. There is always a tough security guard around to keep trouble to a minimum, so it's safe and not disruptive to others.

Katie Kelly, 13

The busy people bustling around, the buildings as high as the sky, and the bright yellow flash as taxis zoom by are some of the many intriguing things about my favorite place, New York City. The city is always so hectic and exciting _ there's never a dull moment! Standing tall behind the crowded city is the Statue of Liberty. She emits a bright glow of freedom, faith and hope. Another famous landmark, the towering Empire State Building, can be seen from miles around. When I am there, all my worries drift away as I get lost in the noise of the city. The Big Apple is definitely my favorite place to be.

Ilana Mobley, 12

My favorite place is the sky. The sky smells so fresh and light. The wonderful fragrance of the clean air smells like a summer breeze. When I am in the sky, the bright sun shines on my strawberry blond hair. Big, fluffy clouds hover over me to keep me shaded. There are no loud noises, no crowds of people and no one can tell me what to do. I feel like I am in my own little world, just by myself. When I am in the open air, I feel like no one can touch me or even talk to me. I go to the sky in my dreams and my vivid imagination. I feel the sky is a great place to be.

Jessica Winstead, 13

My favorite place would have to be at my friend Lindsay's house because there's never a dull moment there. With all the hustle and bustle, there's always something to do and the house is always bursting with sound. I also love the comfy leather couch in the living room, the way the house is always warm and how everyone offers to help.

Serena Utz, 12

The scent of chlorine fills the air. The humid air fills my lungs. The steam from the showers fogs up the mirrors. My favorite place has got to be the Long Center's pool. Every day after school I get equipped for my Swim Team. When I swim, I know that is where I'm supposed to be. The chilly water on my skin makes me feel as if I'm home. Swimming is my life, and I hope that it will always be that way.

Lindsay Weglarz, 13

My favorite place is my family's camp on a small cove in Harrison, Maine. We travel there every summer. Each day after breakfast my grandparents make my cousins and me rake leaves before we can go swimming. The hard work is worth it; the water is so cool and refreshing and always the perfect temperature. I love diving off the floating raft into the clear water, the sounds the loons make and the chirping crickets as I fall asleep at the end of the day.

Alex Moore-Brocato, 13

From third-graders at Hillel School in Tampa:

My grandparents' house is special. It might sound like a boring, old, good-for-nothing house, but it is not. It has a basement where I play all the time. It has an intercom that you talk through to other rooms. It is a nice place to hear and see nature: once I saw a cardinal outside the living room window. When I get bored, I can go hiking with Avo (which is Grandpa in Portuguese). And I get to have Klondike bars for breakfast once every time I go there!

Aaron Root, 9

My favorite place to be is on my grandma's swing. It is on the edge of the pool. It is so comfy you could fall asleep on it. At night I swing gently back and forth and listen to the sound of the crickets. I love to look at the moon on the swing because it is so relaxing. It's special to me because it's a place I can sit alone and think anything without being distracted. I can whisper to myself without anyone overhearing. It's a place where I can sit and watch my sister, friends, or cousins play or go swimming. It's a wonderful place to be.

Jenna Lindie, 8

I really like the hill my grandparents live on. At the top of the hill there's a forest where there are raspberries, blackberries and wild animals. There is also a staircase that goes from the top of the hill to the bottom. There are a lot of houses on the hill. There are also lots of pets. There is a cave at the bottom. On the hill you can see one side of Charleston, W.V. The hill is a great and fun place to explore.

Micah Friedman, 8

I have always loved my computer room. It is full of sounds with all the beeps and explosions. It's small, but it's a cool place. It always smells different, like raspberry, chocolate or mint. The chair I like to sit in is tall and comfortable.

Elijah Kallett, 8

My uncle's farm is a very important place to me. I hear all the horses, cows and dogs. The huge house is in the middle. The chickens peck little pieces of corn from the ground. There's a lot of work to do, but it is fun doing it because I get to be near the animals and it teaches me to be more responsible. After I do my work, I get to ride my horse. The pigs are big and the piglets are small. It's fun watching them play in the mud. Then I let all the animals rest while I play on the bridge my uncle built from a log.

Ruth Seleznick, 9

My favorite place is Busch Gardens on the Kumba roller coaster. Kumba has seven inversions and is famous for its zero-gravity roll. You get plunged into the roll, fall out of your seat and land back in it.

Alex Blustein, 9

My favorite place is London's Heathrow Airport. It smells good in there. You can feel the airplanes' vibrations as they land and take off. You see automatic walkways and tunnels, ramps, check-in counters and lots more. They also have cool signs hanging from the ceiling. I fly to South Africa from there.

Daniel Friedman, 9

Descriptive passages of special places from students at St. Paul's School in Clearwater:

In the dim light an artist mixes colors on his palette.

Deep blues, reds, greens, purples and even brown.

And on the empty white space

A blob of blue is blended together.

Gently lapping water.

On the very edge of the space the artist dabs on a shade of red.

Distant voices.

The artist uses every shade of green to fill in most of the empty, white space.

Lush, green grass.

The artist dips his brush into purple and paints small, mystery figures.

The unknown.

Finally the artist comes to brown on his palette.

He adds three ducks.

Quacking ducks.

The artist places his painting in an art gallery.

In the gallery of peace, you find this painting

And it is my backyard.

Amy Saperstein, 13, eighth grade

One of Nature's Miracles

Sleepy, slow river

Boats wake it up

Creating wild, rapid waves

Picnickers near the river's edge

Reflecting on their dreams

Cool mist brushes their sleepy eyes

Fog abandons the tree line

Clouds break floating softly

Waking up

The sleepy slow river

Kaitlin Roper, 13, eighth grade

My Place

Scent of crisp pines roves the morning breeze

The water placid, like silence

Mountains encircle the lake

Isolation from the outside world

Beauty enveloping you, like a mother caressing her child

Dip your hand in the cool water

Refreshment

Drifting along.

_ Sam Fisher, 14, eighth grade

Niagara Falls

A cascading barrage of water

Creeping toward the edge, then falling falling . . .

Plummeting to the rocks below

Harmoniously hitting the boulders

Showers of water splash

The fine mist pervades the air

The river flows forceful, yet silent

Or perhaps it is silent

Because the cascade smashing into the rocks

Chokes all other sounds

Jennifer Loftus, 13, eighth grade

On the Balcony

The panoramic view across the waist-deep water

Leaves you longing for a sunset to match

The scent of beach grass blends with

The feel of the soft evening air

Just being able to see a mile away

Proves how far you are from civilization

And it brings a sense of independence

With clouds billowing across the horizon

Cream-colored water silhouetting the lush trees

All can be seen from the balcony

Neil Pepi, 13, eighth grade

The Most Beautiful Place

The richest brown you can imagine,

Towering jagged steps of stone.

Snow blue water spraying

Through age-old cracks.

Clouds float serenely,

Over the mysterious sky.

This place is deserted,

With only mystifying wildlife.

Creatures you can even start to imagine.

Two black and white birds land on an eroding rock.

Taking shelter from the gusting wind.

The smell of the ocean drifting by.

Margo Sultenfuss, 13, eighth grade

Gentle shades of pink kiss the sky

Water like a diamond shines

Leaving the aroma of salt to tickle my nose

Palm trees sway

The sky gets darker, darker, darker

The endless ripple beats in my ears

The wind brushes through my hair

Palm trees swaying

The sky is ablaze

One can barely see the sun

Palm trees swaying

Good night

Kylie Schlegel, 13, eighth grade

From Kalisa Vincelli's fourth-graders at Westlake Christian School in Palm Harbor:

My favorite place is my home, because it's filled with love, memories and warmth.

Catherine Cibulas, 9

My favorite place is Disney World in Orlando. It makes me smile just to think of it. We always have a great time there. We went at Christmas last year. At the Magic Kingdom I ate breakfast at Cinderella's castle. A lot of characters came to visit at our table. I got autographs from Snow White, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Prince Charming and Cinderella. I felt like a princess, too. The food is delicious. We went on the Buzz Lightyear ride. My dad and I shot at the aliens while my mom drove our car. At Epcot you can visit a lot of different cultures. We saw pretend snow, which I loved, because I have never seen real snow. It is a magical place to visit.

Savannah Beach, 9

My favorite place is my back yard, because I live on the water and I get to go fishing off the dock, kayaking, or cast netting when it's high tide.

Payton Philipson, 9

My favorite place is my friend Renee's house because we can do all of our favorite things there. We bead together and make bracelets for people, and we write stories and poetry together. We also work on soccer drills in her front yard.

Anja Decker, 10

One of my favorite places is this New England town. I enjoy working in miniature and made this Colonial town for a fifth-grade class project.

Donovan Foster, 11, fifth grade, Citrus Springs Elementary

My favorite place is at the top of the tallest tree in the woods that I live next to. From there I can see my whole neighborhood. In my neighborhood there are canals, so I can see boats sailing, fish jumping and sea gulls swooping down for scraps of people's lunches. Not only is the view magnificent, but also the time to myself really helps me get through the day. Up there I can breathe. I love the way that spot makes me feel.

Shelby Winn, 11, sixth grade, Gulf Middle, New Port Richey

A magnifying glass probably would be needed to see the small town of Astor, Fla. Located in this tiny town is my favorite place: a small piece of land by a pond where my dad, my friends and I go camping. There are many things to do there: long sandy trails for adventurous rides on ATVs, a pond for fishing, and a large fire pit perfect for roasting marshmallows.

Nicole Young, 12, seventh grade, Carwise Middle, Palm Harbor

My favorite place is my grandparents house where there's a ton of things to do. You can ride or walk or even skate on the Pinellas Trail, or you go to the mall and shop or ice skate or do both. You can go boating, fish, visit friends and swim in a pool. You can watch for dolphins or manatees swimming by.

Jessica Moniz, 11, sixth grade, North Sumter Intermediate School, Wildwood

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