Palisades Rotary Club Honors Outstanding Seniors

The Pacific Palisades Rotary Club honors Palisades High School students with annual scholarships in several categories. At a May meeting, Kevin Rosen and J.P. Hurst received the athletic awards.

Rosen, who began wrestling at Paul Revere, participated four years at PaliHi. He was this year’s team captain and qualified for the state meet. He will attend the University of Pennsylvania, but is not sure whether he will continue wrestling. At graduation, he was noted for exceptional achievement, maintaining a GPA of 4.0 or higher.

Zaire Armstrong and Talia D’Amato were given writing awards by Rotary member David Card.
Zaire Armstrong and Talia D’Amato were given writing awards by Rotary member David Card.














J.P. Hurst, an outstanding quarterback for Pali, plans to play this fall for Tulane University, a Division I school. He was recognized for honors achievement with a GPA of 3.5 to 3.9.

The Cleveland Community Service Award went to Acasia Tyler, the Poetry prize went to Zaire Armstrong, the Fiction prize was given to Talia D’Amato, and the Scholar of the Year was Nick Christman.

Talia D’Amato, who will attend UC Davis, received an honorable mention in the National Youth Poet Laureate contest, held at the L.A. Public Library in June. She shared part of her short story, “The Journal of a Teenage Rebel Insomniac,” with the News:

Sunday, December 18, 3:08 a.m.

I woke up to the sound of yelling coming from the room next door. The man was screaming at someone who I assumed he was on the phone with, due to the lack of audible responses. He was saying something about his work being a total failure and his wife wanting a divorce and his kids refusing to talk to him. For a second I actually felt bad for him; then I realized that he was screaming into his phone at three o’clock in  he morning in a motel with very thin walls. And suddenly I was a lot less sympathetic.

Unable to fall back asleep, I just laid there, eyes slipping in and out of focus as I stared at the cracks on the ceiling. What am I doing in a place like this? I thought. I can’t hide out here forever. I can’t survive on a thousand dollars—now nine hundred thirty-nine—and no job. This is L.A.; all the jobs available for kids under eighteen are illegal and unsafe. What the hell was I thinking?

After about an hour, when the man had stopped yelling and the only things disturb- ing the silence were the sounds of an occa- sional distant police siren or passing car, I sat up against the headboard and pulled my laptop out of my bag. I turned it on and opened a blank Word document. And I started to write. Not about me—I’m not a very interesting person—but about other people. I wrote about the soon-to-be-divorced man. I wrote about the homeless man I’d seen that morning, and the one I’d sat next to while waiting for the bus, and the two I’d seen asleep when I got off the bus on this side of town, and the three more I’d walked past on my way to the motel.

I wrote about my friends, and the kid who never dressed for P.E., and the boy who sat next to me in history, and the one who was the only person who had an “A” in my French class.

I wrote about the kid who never did his math homework, and the teacher who never understood what you tried to get him to understand.

I wrote about my old neighbors: the ones who smoked too much and yelled at each other in Russian and played poker in the dirt yards of their apartment buildings.

And when I was finally done, I had fifteen pages of stories. Fifteen pages about the lives of people I’d never talked to. People I’d never known. People who’d never known me. I glanced at the time, then looked over at the window. The curtains were still closed, but I could see sunlight seeping in around the edges. It was almost eleven, so I saved the document, shut off the computer. I slid off the bed and walked to the bathroom, where I stared at my gaunt reflection in the grimy mirror. My skin was pale and there were bags under my bloodshot eyes. I ran a hand through my tangled hair before turn- ing on the faucet and splashing some cold water on my face. I pulled off my sweater and changed into a clean T-shirt, straightened the bed sheets, and picked up my things. And then I stood there, staring at the empty, forsaken little room.

Maybe I was trying to feel some sort of good-bye. Maybe I was too tired to face the outside world yet. But I think I was trying to read all the stories that had ever entered that particular room, only to leave the next morning and never to come back. Never to give another thought to the little room in the run-down motel on the corner of Loneliness and Despair.

A half hour later, I was sitting in a diner about twelve blocks from the motel. I was one of three customers, and the only one under sixty. As I stared out the window counting the cars and pedestrians and dogs, I heard the waiter behind me. “Do you know what you’d like to order?”

I looked up and said, “Yes, I’ll just have a coffee and a turkey sandwich. Please.”

He nodded. “Okay, I will be right out with your coffee.”

“Thanks,” I said as he turned to go back to the kitchen. I’m not sure he heard me. Then I started counting cars again. There was a man parking his car across the street. He got out and went to put money in the meter, before he realized it was a Sunday and he didn’t have to pay for parking. So he walked up to the homeless man sitting on the bench a few feet away and gave him the change.

A mug of coffee was suddenly set in front of me and I said “thanks.” The waiter left again and I gazed at the other side of my booth. I imagined a stranger sitting across from me, and in my mind he asked, “What are you doing here?” In my mind I replied, “I’m running away.”

From what?” he asked.

From my problems.” I answered. “From my fears. But they’re all in my head and it’s extremely hard to run away from your mind without losing it.

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