MHS junior published in DePaul University Literary Magazine

Junior Dareen David

Harper Stull | The Chronicle Contributor

In March 2023, Mason High School (MHS) junior Dareen David had her personal narrative writing, “Life Scars,” accepted into DePaul University’s Blue Book: Best American High School Writing 2022. 

After David was featured in MHS literary magazine Writer’s Block for two years in a row, her personal narrative piece garnered the attention of the editors of DePaul University’s Blue Book, a book featuring the best writing by high schoolers across America. DePaul University requested the top student writing from school newspapers, writing magazines and other multimedia platforms from schools all across the country. David’s story was included in the thousands read and reviewed by DePaul’s editors, and was one of the few chosen to be featured in the book. 

“When I found out my writing was sent to DePaul University, I was astonished,” David said. “I ran to all of my past English teachers to thank them for helping me build my creative writing skill set. I was so ecstatic and proud of my work.”

When DePaul University emailed David’s English teacher, Amanda Bross, where they expressed their interest in her piece, David was pleasantly surprised to see her work being noticed on the next level. DePaul University’s editors made a few edits to David’s story in preparation for her piece to be read in the anthology of writing. David would be the first student published in the book to read her story to a panel of highly educated authors and professors. 

David’s intent was to explain how her story is addressing bullying, body image and the effects of being lonely. In her writing, David talks about what it was like growing up with her mom having cancer, while also being severely bullied because she refused to fit the “beauty standard” of long blonde hair, a perfect smile, and the best clothes as a fourth grader. She wanted to challenge people not to be bystanders and go against the social norms to create a more loving and accepting community. She hopes that her personal experience can inspire people to be more caring towards others because you do not know what they are going through.  

“You don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes,” David said. “None of my ‘friends’ knew my mom had cancer. Even if they knew, nobody was listening because I didn’t mean anything to any of them. I would complain about them to my mom and she would just tell me not to worry about it, but that’s all she really could say because she was preoccupied with her treatment.”

With her mom receiving chemotherapy and being unable to work, David and her brother had to do a lot on their own. Her mom could not afford to put her in sports or other activities like the other kids, which caused her to be left out and ridiculed by her “friends,” and since she could not go to her mom for help, she began to write. David turned to poetry and creative writing to express herself in a way she could not just by speaking. 

The students selected to have their writing featured in the anthology will attend an in-person and virtual launch reading that will be held at DePaul University on May 12, 2023. These students, including David, will have the opportunity to share their pieces and the hard work put into them.  DePaul University’s Blue Book: Best American High School Writing 2022 digital copy will launch in May 2023; physical copies will be published in June 2023.