Brittney Lofthouse — Staff Writer

The winners of the 7th annual Read2Me Essay Contest sponsored by the Rotary Club of Franklin, Read2Me, and The Macon County News were recently honored at a luncheon hosted by the Rotary Club. First, second and honorable mention winners, chosen from over 114 student essays, were recognized and given the opportunity to read their winning piece at the luncheon.

The goal of this year’s essay contest was to have students ask themselves “If I were a superhero…”  A superhero is described by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary online as “…a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers; also, an exceptionally skillful or successful person.” The contest was a creative writing essay, and students were encouraged to write about how their superhero got his or her name, what powers they have, and whether they are allergic to anything that takes the power or powers away. 

First and second place winners received a monetary prize for their winning essays and third place winners received a certificate. Teachers of the winning students also received a donation for classroom supplies. 

3/4 winner 

Agustine Juarez Rios — 3rd grade— Highlands School 

Applause filled the warm summer air as the mayor shook my hand, thanking me over and over for saving his life and the town of Highlands, NC. He felt awesome and I was overjoyed with the feeling I had. 

It all started about a year ago, to the day. I fought the zombies. I was walking through the Nantahala Forest, through a big open field. The path narrowed, and I was looking at the entrance to a cave. It looked, old, dark, and wet inside but something caught my eye. A small, shining light gleamed as me from a distance. I knew I had to get closer. I wanted whatever that shiny light was. I entered the cave and started toward the light. I soon notice I was no alone. There were at least five zombies all heading my way. I was scared by my three years of karate training were about to pay off. The zombies, all dressed I blue were running at me at full speed. I jumped into action. I saw a sword threw the helmet on and defeat every last zombie with just a few clicks and swoops of my sword. I ran toward eh light, and realized it was a light blue crystal the size of my head. 

I touched the crystal and felt something weird rush through my body. I jerked my hand away, but decided there was no way I had just defeated those zombies for nothing. I needed that crystal. I used my helmet knocking the crystal into it and ran out of there as fast as I could. 

I took the crystal straight home and didn’t tell anyone about it, not even my sisters. I hid the crystal in the basement behind an old couch. Three men in black suits knocked on my door asking if they could look in the house. I let them in but quickly ran downstairs to find the crystal. I stuffed it under my shirt and ran out the back door. All of a sudden the ground was getting further and further away. I was flying! But the men were chasing me I flew as far as I could to a far away forest and hid until they stopped looking or me. The crystal gave me flying powers and super vision so I could see everything that was happening at my house. I decided right away I was going to use my powers for good to help the people of Highlands. I gave myself the name SuperFLy. I started to fight crime and locking up bad guys all over town. One rainy day I met Abner Man, my Arn nemesis. Abner man is always after my crystal. He wants to steal it and use his dark magic to change my crystal into a dark crystal. I started flying away with it and Abner man couldn’t keep up. His powers got weaker and weaker until I was bale to capture him and throw him in jail. I took my crystal home to its safe spot behind the couch and decided to go for a walk. I started down my favorite hike when a small brown dog ran up to me. I took him home and gave him the powers of the crystal. Now he can follow me around keeping my crystal safe but with me at all all times. I named him Dog Man, my favorite sidekick. 

One day we went having a great day, then we heard the Mayor calling for us because Abner Man was going to drop him and that was then I beat Abner Man. 

5/6 winner — Ryne Melzer — Mountain View Intermediate School 

  Hi, my name is Ryne Melzer, and I’ve been blessed with a special power. I say blessed, because I’m pretty sure that this power had to have been a gift from above. That special gift is that I can basically put a spell on people and make them go into sort of a trance, while standing, as they enter a dream that shows them their future life with and without drugs, alcohol or tobacco in their life. My hero’s name is The Futurist, because I can show two futures which gives addicted people a choice about how they want the rest of their life to be. My awesome costume includes a red cape, blue jeans, blackish blue shirt, and a two way mirror mask. 

The day I learned about my power was a strange one, to say the least. One day, my friend and eventual sidekick, William Belmonte, was going to take a cigarette out of his aunt’s purse. Before he could grab one, I accidentally touched him on the head and he zoned out while standing. I thought to myself, “what did I do!?” He then woke up and he asked, “what did you do to me?” “I don’t know,” I said. Then William replied, “whatever you did, thank you!” My first response was “why would you thank me for causing you to pass out?” He said that I showed him the future if he smoked that cigarette and it wasn’t pretty. It included tubes, I.V. bags, and a lot of doctors with hopeless looks on their faces. I was in shock and didn’t know what to say! I told my parents and they took me to the doctor for a check up. They took a CT Scan of my head and they said that my brain was different than anything they had seen. They explained that somehow I could transmit brain waves through my hands. I did some research on these transmissions and every site I went on called it a myth. I was disappointed, but that night when I went to bed I dreamed of me, touching people’s heads and sending these transmissions that made them fall into a trance and wake up as new people. Then, in the dream I saw an angel that said no matter what the people and doctors say, I have a gift from God and He expects me to do great things. My alarm sounded and I jolted up. I looked out of my window and it was snowing, about a three inches on the ground and gaining. My dad walked in to say that school was canceled. I didn’t know if I was going to tell my parents about the dream. I look into the piled up snow and it said “TELL THEM” as a breeze immediately wiped it away. I did what the message said. And, even though my parents looked concerned, they said they couldn’t argue with an angel. I sat in my room, thinking how I could shoot my spells from a distance, wishing I had a way to practice. That very day, I got my chance. I heard of massive mayhem in my town, Franklin, North Carolina, and it had to do with a very familiar problem in the area, drugs. My dad said, “I think this is your moment, Ryne.” I could only say, “Yes, Sir.” We drove toward town and there was chaos. All I could hear were sirens going off. Things were burning and car crashes every where. Every drug addict in Franklin had decided to abuse their drugs all at the same time for some reason. In their experiment, they had taken city hall. I raced to City Hall. When I got there, an addict immediately attacked me. I hit him with my spell hoping it would work. It did. From there, I continued hitting people with my spells. One abuser called me a stupid kid and I said, “I’m actually pretty smart and you need to sleep.” I cast my spell and it made him faint. As my anger grew, instead of my spell hitting one person it suddenly released all over the town and made everyone faint, including me. My trance was painful, though. In my sleep, my angel explained that when I showed others the future, I accepted their pain and that was my weakness. Even so, when I awoke, Franklin was a different place as so many lives had been changed because they could see a great future without drugs. This changed my town forever. And now I’m off to another. 

7/8 winner 

Cadence Houser — 8th grade— Macon Middle School 

If you were a superhero what would your name be? My superhero name is Pain Destroyer. That name reminds me of a villain, but I like it. Yes, Pain Destroyer. This is the name I thought of when I discovered my first power. It may be a little simplistic but at least it titles me as the other side of who I am. In all naturality, I am a pain breaker. The first power that I inherited is that I cannot feel pain. I learned about my first power about a year ago, give or take a few months. To be exact it was on the 15th of May the year of 2016. I don’t know what triggered this unworldly power. I come to that topic a lot in my little world of a mind. Not a single form of pain in the world. Not a tiny scratch, not a broken bone, not even when someone hurts my feelings and I’m supposed to feel that type of pain. I cannot feel pain and that can be a good thing or not. I have many other powers I gradually obtained over the years. I have new technology that I’ve worked on that will not entirely conceal my powers but it helps me identify when and when not to act out or divert things. I have some stories about being a hidden but helpful superhero, some funny, some sad, some in between both emotions. Overcoming situations to do with my powers is hard. 

I have more powers other than not feeling pain. All of my powers didn’t come at the same time. My powers were gradually added over several months. At first, it was hard to deal with all of my powers at once. I have learned to master and balance them together. I have doctors at my Headquarters that scan me for anything wrong with me because of the reason of me not feeling pain. One of my other powers is fixing minor wounds. This can be from a paper cut to a fractured bone. This has helped me many times in the past in several circumstances. I haven’t told a lot of people about my powers but the people I have told, I’ve helped out a lot. If they got a scratch then I would mend it or if the medics needed me to respond to a crash right away I would mend the victims small ailments until they came. Personnel like the medics would call my Headquarters (my basement) and the helpers there (my parents) would contact me. I would go out in my super suit and save the day! My friends at school, who know my secret, just ask me to mend them or help them, privately because of my everyday clothes. Another power that I have is to jump or hop, high or far. This has helped me a lot when I would need to jump over an interstate to get to the crime scene. The next power is super strength. This helps when someone is trapped in a car from a crash or me just helping my parents by bringing in the groceries from the car. A different power that I have goes hand and hand with each other. It is the projection of water and fire from my hands. The projection of water helps me put out fire and when I’m thirsty, but the projection of fire helps me help the firefighters with controlled burns or back burns. I also have the power to create air bubbles. This has helped me a lot! One way that it is useful is that if I need to go underwater for something or help others underwater, I can create an air bubble to morph around a head and it will give them air! Also, if I am going to help the firefighters I can put an air bubble around my head to be able to breathe in the smoke. My second to last power is the production of shields. This can help in combat if someone is shooting at me, another person or crowd. I can use my fast reflexes to run over and shield them from the bullets or any other danger, especially with what’s happening in this world today. My final power is the production of food. All I have to do is think about the food and SHAZAM! The food appears where ever I want it. I also can give the homeless in need a big feast. Those are my powers and how they help others. My powers can help this little town of Franklin by helping others to trust one another. They also can help reduce the crime rate here as well. 

There are several problems aroused by me as a superhero. These are small problems to big problems. One problem is how this affects my life as a 13 year old in school. It is hard to juggle my school life and my superhero life. I have and still am learning how to divert small problems from this. In P.E. class my powers are very helpful however, I can’t expose my supernatural powers or else they will expose me. I have to wear lead infused shoes so that I won’t jump really high during sports like basketball. This is when my super strength power comes into play. Not an average middle schooler can wear lead infused shoes, but I can! Another issue is when I get hurt but I can’t feel the pain. I have been trained to react when someone hurts my feelings but when it comes to the phrase “It’s fine! I can’t feel a thing!”, it gets tricky. I have a watch that vibrates when it feels the impulse of my nerves. There are several sequences of vibrates to let me know how much to act out the pain. From a little “Ouch!,” to the extent of “OH MY GOSH! I’M DYING!” Thank goodness the second example hasn’t become reality, yet. There are a lot of little problems that come up in my everyday life, just like the urge to heal someone’s scratch or a papercut. There are some good and bad things that impact my family’s, friend’s, and my life. For my parents, it is hard for them to say “Go on and put your life at risk, daughter!” It’s hard for them to watch me put my life in danger for someone else’s. Secondly, it is hard to come back to school and try not to show that I am walking funny. If I was out of school the day before helping out somewhere and if one of my wounds were still healing, it would be hard to move the limb. Several people have gotten suspicious about that. Thank goodness I have a disguise out in combat or else that would be another issue. Thirdly, it is incredibly hard for my friends, family and me to keep the secret of being the community superhero. Especially for me when I want to tell someone my secret or help someone at school. My friends help me calm down when I want to so-called “save the day.” Everyone that knows my secret is very nice and has learned, to a degree, what I am going through and how to help in their own way. 

In all of this ruckus I call “life,” there are some things that I like best about being a superhero. There are moments in time that stand out for me. One moment that I would like to shine the spotlight on was when I saved this woman and her teens in a crash. Both of the kids go to school with me so it was sort of rough going to school the next day with all of the gossip about the crash. I got to visit them in the hospital after that crash and got to learn the truth about the mother. She was a single pregnant mom due to her husband leaving her just a week before the crash. Thank goodness the unborn babies and the teens weren’t harmed after the hectic wreck. She gave birth to the twins a week after that. Another time was when someone asked me, from the Macon County Newspaper, “What do you like best about being the famous Pain Destroyer?” I racked my brain thinking if I should talk about my unique food superpower or something else. I chose to respond with “In the truth of the matter, I personally love to help the town of Franklin in any way I can. Either it is to save someone or something or to just help around to make this town safer.” I think back on that interview sometimes to see if I could have said anything better but I don’t think there was anything better to say. I love to help or save people and animals. That is the honest truth. 

I love being the Pain Destroyer. There can be some problems with being a superhero but I believe that the best moments outshine the bad. I like helping the community, my friends and my family. I may have a lot of superpowers but I love that I can use all of them to help my family and our small town of Franklin. To me, all of these concepts make up a superhero. The fact of me wanting to risk my life to save a random citizen from harm. That makes a superhero to me, but what makes up a superhero to you?