The Junior Journalism program is a partnership between the Citrus Times and the Citrus County School District. Students were supplied with prompts and asked to write essays. The topic for eighth-graders was: "Natural disasters have been occurring for thousands of years. You are the reporter reporting on natural disasters for the St. Petersburg Times. Expository: Explain the most effective ways to assist the victims of natural disaster. Persuasive: Convince the students at your school to take action to help the victims of a natural disaster."
Here are two of the winning entries.
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Abigail McDonald, Inverness Middle School
In the jungles along the Indonesian beach, things became very still and a haunting silence descended upon it on August 12, 1993. People who had been lounging on the sands sat up, surprised at both the sudden hush and an ominous rapid retreat of the tide that left fish flopping. The caged tiger at the nearby zoo perked its ears.
Then, suddenly, an immense wave crashed onto the shore at 6 p.m., engulfing the beach in oncoming water and eliminating nearly every life it touched. About 10,000 living beings died and thousands more were injured, including endangered animals, people, and the native vegetation.
It is now, more than ever, necessary that each student come to the aid of the surviving people, flora and fauna on the brink of permanent damage. Humans are still dying and endangered animals are coming close to a final disappearance. Vegetation that once gave a home to wild animals was swept away by the remorseless tsunami. We must help!
The plant life of the Indonesian islands was vastly destroyed. Some might not care about the state of the vegetation in Indonesia, but we must work to save it. Many clothes that we wear, dyes, important spices and food stuffs come from the islands. With the destruction of the cotton plants Indonesia will be unable to deliver themselves and us clothes.
Saving the plants is especially important for environmentalists to understand. This plant life contributes to the protection of clean air. The many trees that cleaned oxygen in Indonesia have been washed away. The grasses and other plants that provided a safe habitat for native animals have been obliterated, so many animals are now homeless and defenseless, a plight some students should be sympathetic about. Money is needed to vegetate and reforest the afflicted areas.
Also, human lives need your support! I ask you to place yourselves in the shoes of an Indonesian islander. Imagine having no home or electrical power, no suitable clothes or food. If a simple look at their lives through your imagination doesn't convince you, think of the thousands who were severely wounded or injured. Many have broken legs, lost arms, some even blinded. Some are on the verge of permanent paralysis without medication! This would cost much money for those already deeply impoverished.
Surely you can donate some money and other supplies to assist them in their darkest hours. If you lack sympathy still, think of the losses as a loss of a large fraction of our workforce. Indonesia both supplies us with goods we find essential and buys our products. Without taking any action, the period of time workers are gone will be longer and there won't be as many workers creating goods to your and others' benefit.
To care for all the injured and displaced, there will be an economic dilemma. Governments and businesses, probably without reimbursement, all for the sake of saving human lives, will spend much money. This may halt them from enriching the development of or exporting goods to our country. A simple donation will help these corporations and governments work harder to help the victims faster, making it quicker for them to return to working hard for us.
Other than humans and plants suffering, animals are in desperate need of your aid. What habitats they had are now submersed in water or are destroyed. There is an insufficient food supply, so those animals are starving, possibly making them mad enough to attack people. Endangered animals especially need your understanding. With the sudden losses, many are now very close to extinction. Many of the animals are very sick and disease may spread to the humans as well. It is very important that you help the animals for their sake and possibly our own.
All in all, this tsunami was disastrous. With hands clasped and knees on the ground, I beg you to help. Donate money, plants, food, clothes, or anything you see fit. Humans await, animals helplessly wander, and the land is bare. With a simple bit of change, someone's or something's life could be changed for the better, thanks to you.
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Hunter White, Citrus Springs Middle School
With all the suffering in the world, it is easy to think only about oneself. However, not everyone has been or will be a victim of a natural disaster. Can you imagine not having the basic necessities, such as food, clean clothing or running water? Imagine not being able to take a hot shower, a place to go for your daily constitution, having basic first aid items or a place to call home.
With the shift of the wind, a change of the tide, the shaking of the ground or a loud noise, your city, town, a whole nation or an entire continent could be rendered helpless. Does anyone really want to help the victims of a natural disaster?
To start, would anyone of you be able to live without daily necessities? Many of the victims from Katrina, Charley, Jeanne and Frances went without basic necessities for weeks. Take New Orleans for example, when Hurricane Katrina hit and flooded the city, people were without everything, including clean drinking water for days. Numerous people died because they did not have or receive supplies needed to survive.
This is and can be the same type of situations that can occur with other natural disasters such as a tsunami, an avalanche or an earthquake. Just seeing hard working decent people suffering, should be a significant reason for helping and aiding natural disaster victims.
Last, at anytime, anywhere a natural disaster can occur. On demand, help will always be needed. You should always remember a natural disaster can happen whenever it likes. A tsunami can follow an earthquake, hurricanes and avalanches can form in a blink of an eye.
For example, the tsunami in southeastern Asia happened a couple of minutes after an earthquake hit the Oceanic region. The help needed for those people did not happen right away. Help is needed on demand for any natural disaster and only God can predict when, where and how they will occur. This is why you need to think quick and smart about helping these victims. Remember, it could be you.
To conclude, the victims of natural disasters need help as soon as possible. The necessities needed sometimes never reach the victims because of a lack of help. Please consider my thought of helping victims of natural disasters. They need our help, our prayers and our kindness. Just think, it could be you.