MWRA 2010-2011 Writing Contest Winners

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Abby McCarthy
Grade 6, Andrews Middle School, Medford
Ms. Twardzicki, Teacher


It was just another normal Monday morning, the beginning of my week. I reluctantly slid out of bed; my obnoxious alarm clock was too much to bare.  I slammed an aggravated fist onto the “snooze” button and the racket stopped.  There was a soft knocking on my door. “Come in,” I snapped; I am really not myself in the morning.

“Abby, it’s time to get ready for school,” my mother cooed.

“Okay, okay, I’m working on it”

“Well, don’t take too long; the bus is going to be here in an hour.”

I turned to look at my clock. My mom was right; it was already 6:30.  I let out a tried moan and I stood up. After taking a quick trip to the “loo” (what my mother calls the bathroom), I started picking out an outfit for the day. Once I found one, I threw it on and I dragged a comb through my somewhat-knotted hair.  I grabbed a headband from my fabulous collection and slid it over my scalp.  Then, I headed downstairs and enjoyed a General Mills cinnamon scone.  You see, my father works for the company so we get to try out a lot of their products for free.  The rest of my morning was normal.  It consisted of brushing my teeth, getting my shoes on, and running halfway down the block to catch my bus…nothing unusual.
After lunch was science, my best subject.  As I entered the class, I noticed an assignment written on the board. It read: MWRA Essay, due 2/18. I gave an internal scream not ANOTHER essay!

I had written two others in a short time period of a week in a half. One was about King Thutmose III, and one was about the Apollo 11 space trip.  Now, I had to write yet another boring essay on something that sounded like a secret organization! 

Our teacher, Ms. Twardzicki, ran class normally. She made sure to keep us occupied. When there was about ten minutes left in the period, she explained our assignment. “I am sure some of you have noticed the assignment on the board,” she said. 

The class nodded their heads and she continued. 

“You guys are going to be writing an essay for an organization called the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority…more commonly known as the MWRA.” 

She continued her explanation by taking us to the MWRA website and telling us a little about what they do. I guess that they are a group of people who work together to make Massachusetts’ drinking and sewage water as clean as it can be.  For the topic of the essay, we were supposed to write about What a clean Boston Harbor means to us.

Just as I predicted, I thought, this is just going to be another boring essay.  At the end of class Ms. Twardzicki wished us good luck and was about to send us to our next classes when she remembered something important.

“Oh, and class? Please take into consideration that this is a competition and the winner will be invited to a ceremony where they will be congratulated.”

That night I sat down at my computer and I tried to begin my essay, but I ran into a problem; what did a clean Boston Harbor mean to me? I guess I never really thought about it before, this was a bad sign. 

I sat at the computer for hours just pondering on the topic.  The question rattled in my mind like the beads in a maraca; somewhere in this process I fell asleep. This lead to the dream that changed my look on clean water forever. 

It went like this: I was sitting at my computer trying to type up my essay.  I kept complaining to my dad that I didn’t want to write my MWRA essay and that a clean Boston Harbor meant nothing to me.  I complained for the rest of the night; I was even complaining to myself as I lay in bed. 

Suddenly, I heard a thumping from my closet door: BOOM, BOOM, BOOM!  I got really scared and I tried to hide under the covers, but the noise would not go away.  Then, I heard a deep booming voice.


“Wh-o are yo-u?”  I stammered.

“I never said that.”

SILENCE,” it roared.



“I dunno.  I guess it just doesn’t really affect me that much.”

“ARE YOU SURE?”  The mysterious voice questioned.

“Well…um, yes?


“What kind of lesson?”


“Isn’t this sort of like A Christmas Car…” but my words were cut off.  A thick purple smoke filled my room.  It was so dense that I could not even see my hand in front of my face.  It was difficult to breathe, and I was having a coughing fit. As the smoke started to clear up, I appeared at the Boston Harbor docks.

Nobody was around. I leaned over the rail in hopes of seeing a family of ducks or a fish swimming by. And then it hit me -- the awful scent.  It circled my body and crept up my nostrils, making the hair on the back of my neck stand up. The aroma was similar to the smell you would get from mixing human stool, and month-old garbage. It was appalling!

The smell wasn’t the only agonizing thing about the area; the water was thick, black and lumpy.  Small chunks of God-knows-what were drifting along. “This is disgusting,” I cried, “why doesn’t the MWRA come and clean this up!  “It makes me feel embarrassed to be representing this place!”

Just then, the purple smoke came back. It clogged my throat and I choked. I closed my eyes; when I opened my eyes I was standing in the same place as before, but this time the smell was gone. When I leaned over the rail to take a look at the muck, I was surprised to see that the water was clear and blue. It shone in the brilliant, golden sun. There were even a few of the common wildlife creatures there such as a family of ducks, striped bass, and harbor seals.

“Wow,” I exclaimed, “this must be the water after the MWRA fixed it up…it looks great! It is amazing to see the wildlife thriving in this beautiful water. I think I even feel proud that I live so close to such a serene thing.”

I sat there for a little while admiring the scenery and feeding the ducklings. I felt as though I never wanted to leave.

As the feeling became stronger, the purple smoke started to reappear. “Here we go again,” I said. 

The mysterious voice chuckled this time, I closed my eyes and I held my breath.  I think I’m getting the hang of this, I thought. 

After about ten seconds, I opened my eyes for the final time.  An old woman was sitting at a bench talking to what looked like her grandchildren. When I focused in on what they were saying, I was taken aback. The woman was explaining to the children what the Boston Harbor was like when she was a child and how she was happy that they got to see it the way it is now.  The woman then said something that made my blood run cold.

“I need to run to the loo.”  Seven little words. I started to look closer at the woman.  Green eyes, the same face structure, and even a similar posture.  That old woman was me. Then, I woke up; I had a feeling that tomorrow’s essay writing would be very easy.

I learned an important lesson from that dream. Having a clean Boston Harbor means a lot to me. It is a place for delicate wildlife to live, a place to be proud of, and a place even my grandchildren will appreciate. This is all thanks to the MWRA; they do more than just clean our water. They create ecosystems, and a beautiful place to visit right smack in the middle of a huge city.  A clean Boston Harbor means more to me than it did before.  It teaches you to just take a step back from your busy day, and recognize the beautiful things in life for a little while.

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