Student Voices: Photography

(Part of the 2nd annual Student Voices Project)

Prompt: Photograph a scene or capture an image that you think inspires peace.

The Beauty of Hardship

Julia Dunn, Grade 6, Greene Street Friends School 


I see Malala Yousafzai as an extremely powerful and inspiring young woman. When she was only 11-years-old, she wrote a blog about being under the Taliban’s control and her views on girls’ education rights. Since the Taliban does not believe in girls having an education, Malala used the blog to express her feelings under a pen name. Unfortunately, the Taliban discovered her real name, located Malala, and fired bullets into her head. No one believed that she would live, but she did. Malala did not back down after that. She is still an activist and has won many awards. Malala had the courage to speak up for what’s right. Malala inspires a lot of people because she is only 17, mature, and very well spoken. She said, “They thought the bullets would silence us, but they failed. And then, out of that silence came thousands of voices.” Malala knew that people were inspired by her and the miracle that made her live, and they wanted to make a difference, too. When Malala was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, she donated $50,000 dollars of her prize to help rebuild schools in Gaza. This activist is helping hundreds of children to get an education. As she restores peace in many places, Malala justifies women’s rights to education and a fair and happy life. My photo connects to Malala’s situation because she and her actions represent the flower, and her circumstances and location represent the background. Malala is like a flower who has emerged from dark experiences.

In the picture, I represented the concept of how beauty can grow from misfortune. In the background, everything is dead, yet the flower brightens the picture up and symbolizes hope and happiness. As Albus Dumbledore from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series said, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” I think this quote means that even when it seems as if all hope and peace is lost, and only conflict exists, there is still a little bit of happiness. This only happens if you think on the bright side. That little flame burning inside you will ignite when you think positively.

Julia Dunn lives with her mom, dad, two cats, and a dog. Her favorite subjects are science and language arts. She loves drawing, playing piano, writing, reading, and hanging out with her awesome friends.


The Most Costly Definitive Statement

Maddie Whitehead, Grade 10, William Penn Charter School


It’s so quiet up here on this hill
finally alone with my thoughts
It’s been so long since I’ve seen my family
the sense of tranquility is very different from the recent past,
or was that long ago?
I can’t tell anymore.

I miss my wife, my children
They’re so far away, but so close
I can feel their breath, smell their scent
when they come to visit.

The flag ripples in the breeze,
The one they brought Veterans Day;
The flowers they bring on my birthday,
The blanket at Christmas.

I do not regret my choice
to defend my way of life.
To protect the future, and the rights
of all to live without fear, without censure
free to worship, free to love, to live.

I just wish I were there and not here,
in the cold, dark ground.

This national cemetery is, in my opinion, a very true representation of the fine line between peace and conflict. Cemeteries are universal symbols of peace, so much so that the phrase “rest in peace” appears on many of the headstones that compose them. However, the tension between peace and conflict arises within the idea of the veterans’ cemeteries. These heroes suffered the cost of war, and I can only hope that they have now found their peace.

Maddie Whitehead lives in Philadelphia, Pa. She has two cats, Elouise and Olivia, and one bunny, Rex. At Penn Charter, she participates in crew and mock trial. She wrote this piece for an assignment in her Quakerism class.

Explore the other prompts from the 2nd annual Student Voices Project:

Story Time – Ponder – Get Involved – Inspiration – Imagine – Visual Arts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Maximum of 400 words or 2000 characters.

Comments on may be used in the Forum of the print magazine and may be edited for length and clarity.