The Student Writers Advisory Group writes for the final time for the 2016-17 school year

Pamplin Media Group's Student Writers Advisory Group — better known as SWAG — wrote for one final time to cap the 2016-17 school year. Student writers hailed from Wilsonville, West Linn, Lake Oswego and Lakeridge high schools, coming together to share their unique high school perspectives and write about various topics.

For their final assignment of the year they chose to write about their families — the same people who have influenced who they are today.

Any students who wish to join SWAG for the 2017-18 school year are invited to apply by contacting Andrew Kilstrom at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-636-1281 ext. 112. To apply, simply email a writing sample as well as name, school and grade level. Applicants are asked to attend monthly meeetings after school (generally lasting about an hour) to discuss topics with other SWAG members, as well as write monthly submissions ranging from 200-500 words. SWAG pieces are published monthly in Wilsonville Spokesman, West Linn Tidings and Lake Oswego Review.

Dreams do come true

By Kaleigh Henderson

West Linn High School

Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved to play cards. Her parents always told her that her future husband had to play cards too, and that he was Prince Charming, growing up on the other side of the world. The girl dated a few boys in high school, but none were perfect.Henderson

After graduation, the girl applied to be an exchange student at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, far away from anyone she knew. Immediately, she joined the Bridge Club.

As she walked into the first meeting, she noticed a pair of grimy-looking British boys hanging around the card tables in the corner.

They approached her warily, and she could smell the beer and cigarette smoke on them. One of the boys, the taller one, introduced himself as the president of the Bridge Club. He said that all new members could have either a hard cider or a beer for free. The girl politely declined, but the boy kept pushing her, saying that she had to have one. By now the girl was seriously thinking about leaving the club, but she accepted a cider (which she immediately poured into a trash can) and got out her cards. Everyone was impressed by her skill, and the tall Irish boy became her bridge partner.

The girl returned to Bridge Club the next day. One of the boys, the short one, was still as smelly and dirty as the day before, but the tall one, the president, was clean and had shaven. With the help of the boy, the girl improved quickly at bridge and entered into many tournaments. They always went together, and they became very close.

Soon enough, one thing led to another, and they started dating. After a year, though, she was forced to leave him in Scotland and return to her home in the U.S. The two found a way to meet again several times over the next few years, and eventually, the tall Irish boy proposed.

So who in my family inspires me? My grandparents, who taught my mom to always be herself. My mom, who found the courage to join clubs and make new friends. My dad, who completely devoted himself to my mom, enough to move across the world to start a new life with her. My family has taught me many things, but the most important one is this: dreams really can come true, and some people, if they're lucky, really do live happily ever after.


By Lily DeVine

Lake Oswego High School

There are many stories that families cherish. One of the stories that my family cherishes is about how my great-grandparents met.

The story began in Detroit, Michigan. The year was 1930. Clyde Prince, then 3 years old, started attending Detroit Day School for the Deaf. There, he first met his classmate Rosemarie Roy.DeVine

Clyde had lost his hearing from spinal meningitis. He got spinal meningitis from his cousin, who later recovered, when he was two. On the other hand, Rosemarie became deaf from spinal meningitis when she was three. How Rosemarie developed spinal meningitis exactly remains a mystery. While all this took place, Rosemarie and Clyde only lived about five miles apart from each other.

A year after Rosemarie and Clyde first began school together, one of their teachers thought they looked adorable together and put them in a photo.

Later, Clyde dropped out of school in sixth grade and worked at his father's collision shop, Prince Brothers Collision Shop. A few years later, Rosemarie dropped out of school in eighth grade.

Despite all this, Rosemarie and Clyde were married when they were 21 years old. Rosemarie went on to work for Ford Motor Company for 33 years before retiring in 1985. Then around 1997, Rosemarie and Clyde moved to Oregon.

Everyone is part of history

By Gus Hearn

Lakeridge High School

I had always known that my dad's side of the family immigrated to the United States from Cuba. I had also heard many stories about our former relatives who lived there. My grandma would tell me stories of relatives who fought in the Cuban War for Independence against Spain, but I was never interested in listening to them. And why would I be? All of the stories occurred over 100 years ago on an island nearly 3,000 miles away. However, it was not until I visited Cuba earlier this year that these fascinating details truly piqued my interest.

There was one relative in particular that my grandmother liked to talk about; his name was Bartolomé Masó. Bartolomé was the great-uncle of my grandmother, Mercedes Masó. He was born in 1830 and was one of the founding fathers of modern Cuba. Hearn

Arrested by the Spanish for revolutionary activity, Bartolomé was imprisoned in forts in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Spain. Upon his release, he made his way back to Cuba where he served as secretary of war, brigadier general, and later as president of the Republic in Arms during the Cuban War for Independence. He was close friends with the renowned Cuban poet, José Martí, and he even has a town named after him in southeastern Cuba.

My grandmother's grandfather, Carlos Masó, also fought in this war and served as the aide-de-camp to the famed General Calixto García. My grandmother would tell me these stories all the time, but the significance did not register with me until my visit to Cuba.

Walking into the Museum of Independence in Havana, my expectations were mild at best. We spent several minutes looking at antique weapons and reading about important battles of the war, but eventually, we entered a room containing painted portraits of numerous important Cuban figures of the war. I glanced at the many portraits until my eyes locked on one in particular. It was Bartolomé Masó.

As I stared at this painting, all of the previously monotonous stories that my grandmother told me came rushing back into my head as interesting as ever. Stories that once seemed so old and distant felt immensely relevant. In the second Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara compared themselves to these romantic heroes from the first War for Independence. They used them as propaganda to give legitimacy to their own cause.

Ironically, even though my family members were a part of the war for independence, they were forced to leave Cuba because of this second revolution. I left that museum with a new sense of pride in my ancestors, and I could not wait to hear more of my grandmother's stories.

Family lore

By Joe Lantow

Lake Oswego High School

Family lore is a lot like the ancient histories we find in the excavation sites of old ruins. Tinged with bias, of dubious authenticity, and completely oral until someone gets the crazy idea to write it down. Nonetheless, both stories have their own seeds of truth hidden somewhere in the depths of embellishment. Lantow

With my grandmother recently moving to Oregon, every day has suddenly become an archaeological dig, uncovering old dirt on the strangest topics. Each conversation has become a land mine, wondering which word will trigger the dreaded yet anticipated "I remember when..." that is likely to spiral the talk into some long forgotten topic of family history.

For instance, my father recently learned that he had been asked to Stanford University, only for his father (my grandfather) to turn him down. Ostensibly, one could imagine my dad getting a little bit peeved, but he seems content with the knowledge. I was just surprised that Stanford was old enough to be founded before my dad turned 18.

My family also apparently has a rich history of smuggling. I recently learned that my great-grandmother smuggled large amounts of cash over the Canadian border to avoid U.S. import taxes.

Of course, I should hardly be surprised. While we imagine great-grandmothers as kindly old women, apparently mine, having lived through the Great Depression, also had some steel in her eyes. This fact is illustrated in the two heirlooms we inherited from my great-grandma Patty, an old family Bible and a pump-action shotgun.

So while some may shy away from the dusty history of family lore, I will continue to pursue it headfirst. Between the petty squabbles and obvious falsehoods lie some fun little facts that at least are good icebreakers. Most importantly, I have learned to ask my parents "Has Stanford called yet?" every day.

Grandpa Sid

By Claire Petersen

Lakeridge High School

My Grandpa Sid is someone who makes me smile, who shows me how you can be a lifelong learner, and that it is OK to explore different jobs throughout your life. He lives on the other side of the country, but the distance is shortened by phone calls, emails, visits and shared interests.

When I was 9 years old, I decided to learn how to play golf since it was one of his passions, and I wanted to surprise him when I joined him on the course. I've continued playing over the years, sharing his love of golf; an activity we look forward to playing together, golf cart driving lessons included. My grandpa is more than half a century older than me, yet I watch in awe as he swings his driver, his golf ball soaring, disappearing into the sky. Petersen

He surprises me with so many interests, and shares them with me, from golf to playing pickle ball, to painting. He started painting later in life. When I spotted his oil piece with ocean waves and seagulls sailing in the wind, I smiled, and noted we shared this passion for painting. He suggested we work together, and helped me create a piece I left for him to keep.

My Grandpa Sid inspires me to never be afraid to try new things. His degree is in pharmacy, and he worked in that field, then later started a computer sales company in the 1980s. Eventually he sold his successful company and studied to get his license to return to working as a pharmacist. He gives me confidence I will find my way in the world, and it may be not just one way. Hearing his voice, even when it's just on the phone, and it is rainy outside, reminds me of the warm summer memories we share together, knowing that he is there for me.

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