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First place winner Casey Robinson-Bullock
Schoharie Central High School


Throwing her hands in the air, Mrs. Mooney screamed at the sight in front of her, "YOU BOYS SHOULD BE EXPELLED!" The cafeteria was in an uproar as the lunch lady's screams were loud enough to be heard from anywhere in the academy.

My father grinned, "Awh come on, Mrs. Mooney. Callie just wants an apple."

"Brenton Lee Bullock, OUT!" Her finger was straight as an arrow pointing towards the door.

The three boys, empty trays in hand, exited the lunch line as they came in. Nathan, long, tall, feet practically touching the floor, on the back of the short, stout pony Minky; my dad on Callie, the old quarter horse; and Adam, the smallest guy in the boys' dorm, on Brutus, the 19 hand high draft horse. The prank had gone as planned and even the principal got a kick out of the lunch lady's reaction, only giving the boys four hours of punishment each day for the rest of the week. That was Dad, breaking the rules at a young age just to throw another one of those crazy stories under his belt.

Naturally, he became a story teller and a people pleaser, making the crowd laugh until they cried over his stories of causing chaos as a kid. Growing up in church camps and academies as an Adventist, dedication and control was everything with strict rules and set routines. But Brenton Lee always had a side of discrepancy, finding ways to "live a little," whether by eating left handed in order to secretly hold hands under the table with the cute girl at lunch, or sneaking out past curfew to steal the cinnamon buns reserved for breakfast from the kitchen.

As a child I was always fascinated by his wild stories and escapades. I would beg him to tell me about breaking the horses, or building the giant diving dock that Grandpa would bet them money to jump off of. Even if I had heard them ten times before, they never got old.

"We'd be at a dead run and I'd swing my rifle up against the horse's shoulder holding it just at the right height," he said slowly and steady, "like the cowboys and Indians would do."

"And?" in awe my eyes were glued to him.


"Did you hit it?"

"Steady," he quieted to a whisper.

I rephrased my question anxiously, "Did you shoot?"

"BAM, the bottle went flying off the post as we raced by!" he exploded, making me nearly jump off my seat. His sense of adventure was infectious.

There would always be one story my father would never tell. His unruly and adventurous traits eventually outgrew the extreme confines and control of the Adventist religion. He rebelled against it in more serious ways than just sneaking cinnamon buns, finding means of retaliation in the use of drugs and alcohol. This rebellion would result in the end of one extreme and in the beginning of another. Like the control of the religion he tried to escape, his disease began to control his life. Soon he would rebel against his responsibilities, his marriage, and his children. There would be fewer mornings with the smells and sounds of dad cooking pancakes while singing to the Sesame Street theme song. Money would seemingly disappear from the checking account and my mother would have to resort to the "Regional Bank of Grandma." Through the years I saw him less and less, until he was gone.

Still a rebel, he struggles even now, living paycheck to paycheck, alone, and without purpose. Nonetheless, in denial the rebel tries to mask these struggles.

"Hi Honey," he speaks up, loud and clear over the phone.

"Hey Dad, how's it going?" I ask hesitantly.

"Oh things are kind of slow; work hasn't been too great and with Deanna gone, things have been a little rough," then reassuringly, "but hey, I'm positive I'm going to get this next bid and I'll save up some money to fly ya down here soon!"

"Oh, well, yeah, that would be great," I reply hopefully, however knowing that hope would not be enough to make the event probable.

Just as my father rebelled, so too have I. In contrast to his ways, I work hard in academics and extracurricular activities to secure a stable and successful future in which I can support myself and my family. I focus on values and organize my priorities to overcome temptation and put others in front of myself. I plan to always be present in the lives of the ones that I love, whether it is family members, my partner, or my children. I will commit to my responsibilities, challenge myself, and exude honesty and acceptance. Even so, as I strive to live this life, I will never forget the rebel inside of him that sparked this rebel inside of me. A rebel with a similar will to fight, but a different purpose to fight for.