Scholarship Essay by Shanelle From Valor Christian High School

April 16, 2018

graduate certificate and graduate cap on a stack of books isolated on whiteThis essay, by Shanelle from Valor Christian High School, is one of the top five finalists for our scholarship. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comment section below this post!

9:00 pm Nostalgia & 6:00 am Rain
(a poem about Highlands Ranch)

Lavender and cerulean frost
Cumulonimbus clouds:
puffed and irritated eyes pour out
ultramarine pupils.
Regretful memories well up in
those water lily eyes,
for pouted lips prophesied drowning
in the propaganda.
Violet, cerulean bright! The rain
left cirrus clouds behind
and dried, slumped, exhausted tear ducts paused
in retrospective blur.
Clarity. Nostalgia. Haunted street
lamps burning eyes to tears.
Everyone here brought me to weeping.
Everyone lost themselves.

In Response

I am a Colorado native. Growing up, I remained in the state but moved from area to area. Through this, I developed a rounded sense of everything East of the Rocky Mountains. When my family and I were deciding which high school I should attend, we discovered Valor Christian. After receiving scholarships and financial aid, my parents decided to take the financial risks posed and relocate to Highlands Ranch. Valor Christian and Highlands Ranch are inseparable in my mind, as they both were essential aspects of my high school experience. For this reason, my understanding of Highlands Ranch may be different than others because it is entirely tainted by my school and peers.

Therefore, moving to Highlands Ranch may have been the right decision for my family and me as far as academia is concerned. However, while the academic and social pressures here were beneficial to my education, my health was boldly threatened by a toxic subculture that isn’t immediately apparent to the eye. Furthermore, not only did my emotional health suffer but so did that of my peers. In my above poem, “9:00 pm Nostalgia and 6:00 am Rain,” I reveal a glimpse of my emotional experience within the part of the culture here that camouflages mental illness in order to maintain appearances and ultimately value outward success over inward happiness. The poem begins with a statement about clouds. Cumulonimbus clouds are the towering clouds that bring intense rainstorms which, in Highlands Ranch, often follow beautiful lavender and light blue sunrises. This paradox of gentle skies precipitating heavy storms reflects the fierce waves of emotions and tears that always come after rare moments of genuine happiness here. In this way, a danger of Highlands Ranch is that it doesn’t always present its flaws openly, but hides them away from the public eye. This upholding of pretenses harms its children, forcing them to suffer in their emotional and mental pains alone and in silence.

The poem then introduces the idea of regret. In the beginning, it is hard to detect the negative aspects of Highlands Ranch, and many new people who aren’t used to those parts of the culture hurt themselves in the process of figuring it out. For this reason, relationships in Highlands Ranch can often be shallow and short-lived. Therefore, many people they cannot trust anyone because the pressures to be the best often cause people to have alternative motives. A void of deep relationships ultimately causes people to seek approval and make regrettable decisions in their quest for acceptance. This regret is one of the many consequences of living here and a reason why Highlands Ranch can be both mentally and emotionally unhealthy for its residents. Finally, the poem closes by highlighting the disappointment of watching people you loved become people you no longer know. The toxicity of a subculture solely focused on outward appearance drives many to lose the authentic pieces of their identities and cope with their confusion using unhealthy behaviors. This loss of self within a community that constantly asks its citizens to be better often leads to overall feelings of sadness, loneliness, and regret. In conclusion, while this city does offer safe, clean neighborhoods and beautiful sunrises, I don’t like Highlands Ranch because it pressures its citizens to be people who they aren’t and lose authenticity.

Read the Other Entries

Posted In: Office News

125 thoughts on “Scholarship Essay by Shanelle From Valor Christian High School

  1. Dave Matthews says:

    Shanelle Wolfe’s poem and essay are excellently written. I have taught English and creative writing, and she stands out as way above what I have read from others. Her choice of words are sublime. She will go far!

    1. Patty says:

      Really enjoyed reading this. I used to live in Highlands Ranch and your description is on point! Good luck with everything!!!

    2. Keri McGregor says:

      Shanelle- this was beautifully written! You are a talented young lady in so many ways- wishing you all the best!

  2. Annie Wolfe says:


    Love the poem and the way you describe Highlands Ranch. You are such an excellent writer and I am proud of you. Thank you for being so open and honest about your feelings towards Highlands Ranch. It shines light on some of the negative aspects of living in such a clean and safe place. You rock! 🙂

  3. Laquetta Jelinek wolfe says:

    Very interesting and provocative
    Excellent writing

  4. Laquetta Jelinek wolfe says:


  5. Emily and Tommy says:

    A well thought out piece of writing. I’m sorry you had to experience this so young. Just stay true to yourself, embracing your strengths and weaknesses (often intertwined) as well as those of the people whom you love and the people that love you.

    Best of luck!

  6. Hannah Megredy says:

    Very good poem good luck shanelle!

  7. Randi says:

    I love your poem and explanation, as the bravery you’ve illustrated depicts realism, which is hard for humans to admit to and accept. People tend to romanticize their lives and experiences. It is refreshing to hear the truth. Thank you!

  8. Angie says:

    I like this.

  9. Janis A says:

    Shanelle, your poem is amazing. And you definitely made me think! Your writing portrays a sensitive maturity. Congratulations on being a finalist!

  10. Joey wolfe says:

    Fantastic!! What a great observation and insight.

  11. Km Matthews says:

    You’ve learned a lot about how you want to live your life in these short years of high school at Highlands Ranch, Shanelle. If I could put a moral to your story, it would be to always be yourself. You have learned well!

  12. Aaron Matthews says:

    Your one of the most talented people I know! Nothing but great things in your future! Glad I can say your my niece😀

  13. Kai says:

    This essay is thoughtful and profound. I’ve been here in Denver for ten years myself, and Shanelle’s thoughts helped me articulate some concerns I’ve had for our suburban and higher echelon communities. I hope this bright young woman goes on to benefit this city in all the rich ways we need.

  14. Allegra Duval says:

    Wow! Amazing! Love it

  15. Jessica S Lopez says:

    Shanelle, this is a beautifully written paper. You bring up some important points that are not mentioned enough in today’s culture. I loved your reference to the symbolism in your poem. I especially related to this line –
    “culture here that camouflages mental illness in order to maintain appearances and ultimately value outward success over inward happiness.”
    It is very relevant in our society where kids (and adult) can appear happy and content with life on social media, but are crying out for help inside. Thank you for this thoughtful and provocative paper!

  16. Kristin says:

    Very well said! Congrats!!!

  17. Luke Korner says:

    Shanelle, both kudos and congrats. The level of creativity and thought required to produce this work is impressive. Best of luck in the competition, although, I suppose the others will need the luck!

  18. Jenny Davis says:

    Beautiful dear!

  19. Tanya says:

    Such a captivating writer at such a young age. It’s a rare gift you have!

  20. Marquette Carrington says:

    beautiful poem!

  21. Katy McFadden says:

    From the heart, Shanelle. We’ll written and touching…you are one who stands tall.

  22. Hope Morgan says:

    Love this. Totally agree. I wish more people were willing to go against the norm and live authentic lives and give up on this idea of normal and appearances. Well written.

  23. S Kristine says:

    I am so, so proud of what you’ve accomplish! Representing your community as a strong, smart you lady. This essay truly showcases your critical thinking and creative writing skills so well. Bravo, well done! My vote for the winner for sure!

  24. Desiree says:

    This essay was very well writen, with a mature voice. I’m sure this young lady will go far.

  25. I loved the descriptive nature of your poem. It had the flavor of the front range that I recently moved away from after 50 years. It brought me right back.

  26. Kärin Bishop says:

    Your prom is beautiful. It so refreshing to hear such kindness! Good luck in your upcoming years!!!

  27. Debbie says:

    Shanelle…you are wise beyond your years…you will go far in life just stay true to who you are 👍

  28. Kärin Bishop says:

    Beautiful poem!!

  29. Sarah P. says:

    Beautifully written. The poem is fantastic and your explanation is thoughtfully presented. Great work!

  30. Ellen Connor says:

    You are so amazing! I’m so sorry that your high experience was heartbreaking. I admire how you stuck it it out and continued on to achieve your education and grow into the beautiful woman you have become. Please be as proud of yourself as I am of you!

  31. Selina Jimenez says:

    Nice work young lady, keep thinking critically and creatively!

  32. David says:

    You are one of the strongest people I know, great insight on your experiences. Just keep being exactly who you are.

  33. Cassie says:

    What a very heartfelt poem. Shanelle you are an amazing writer and a very mature person to have such a grasp on your emotions.

    1. Neal Mc says:

      Very well written and open. Love your attitude and honesty! Be who you are and the rest will fall into place.

  34. Sadie says:

    Go shannelle!

  35. Rob says:

    Excellent Shanelle. Thank you for sharing.

  36. Ari says:

    Very well written essay! You are very talented and smart young lady, you mother raised you very well. I hope you will be awarded for this scholarship to expands your bright future and great talents.

  37. Kathy Cavinee says:

    Shanelle , great job, you will go far in life . You have what it takes to succeed.

  38. Cathy Blakeman says:

    Your poem and essay are both very well thought out and insightful. You are an engaging writer that draws your reader in. Congratulations on a job well done.

  39. Sarah says:

    This is so real, honest, raw, brave and beautifully-written.

  40. Ry'ann Irvin says:

    Coming from a small Colorado town your poem and essay really spoke to the way I grew up myself. I thank you for voicing yourself in a hush hush environment. Lovely written, I’m so excited to see Shanelle further her journey in life.

  41. Corrie says:

    Beautifully written!

  42. Sean Gross says:

    Awesome Job!!! Got my vote!

  43. Karol says:

    Shanelle, what a poised, raw and well written observation of Highlands Ranch and your experiences. Best wishes for your future endeavors. Any university will be blessed to have you as a student. Karol

  44. Kiana says:

    This is an amazing reflection on a challenging experience. Not only did you capture the emotions that you felt, but also those you saw in others. The word choice was extremely powerful and moving. An incredible poem and reflection!

  45. Glenda Lanik says:

    Your poem is colorful and colors are beautiful but hidden under the colors is the sadness and the tears that are also hidden by the rain. I particularly like that you incorporated the poem into your essay. You have a gift of insightfulness and expression. Embrace it. I think your poem and essay are outstanding.

  46. Mick McAfee says:

    Wise beyond your years
    Mahalo for your truly Pono thoughts

  47. Jimmy says:

    Eloquent writing. I loved your poem due in part to its emotional nature and creativity. The critique of Highlands Ranch is very insightful.

  48. Eric says:

    This poem is well articulated with profound and provocative insight to core feelings and beliefs. You have magically Vocalized a societal dilemma too often overlooked. Well done.

  49. Angelique Steadman says:

    Shanelle’s words, from poem to response, confirm my belief that we have only just begun to see the potential of the newest generation of voters. When given the opportunity, they are choosing to speak loudly and boldly about issues that the adults in their lives have been complacent about. Thank you Shanelle, for adding your voice to the conversation about mental illness.

  50. Anya Martin says:

    Absolutely beautiful!!!!

  51. Zhi says:

    Such depth and beauty in you!!

  52. Frances DeVore says:

    Your essay was extremely well written Shanelle. But more importantly, it was written from the heart and from life experience which gives it so much power. Your essay reminded me of the movie “Pleasantville.” Everything is not always as it seems. Thank you for your openess and for reminding us to always be true to ourselves and to allow others to do the same.

  53. Shanell Lewis says:

    Beautifully raw! Know that you are pure love and light. Good luck😉

  54. Albie Baker says:

    Very well done, insightful and thoughtful.
    Be strong !

  55. Anna Clifton says:

    What a heartbreaking insight into your experience. Thank you for sharing, that takes a great deal of courage!

  56. norell says:

    Shanelle’s poem and essay are brilliant and the authenticity shines from both them and from the person she is in real life.

  57. Nichole Guthrie says:

    Shanelle is an amazing writer and I absolutely love reading her beautiful words. She speaks creatively from the heart. It’s easy to see she naturally puts her heart and soul into her vision, writings and work. Thank you so much for sharing.

  58. Lexi Velarde says:

    Very authentic and stunning! Excellent job Shanelle 🙂

  59. Vicki Korner says:

    Your writing reflects the sensitive, compassionate young woman you are.
    You bring LIGHT to us all. Gratitude!

  60. Kali says:

    Wow! Excellent job and beautifully written.

  61. Terry Savage says:

    Unbelievably real.

  62. Alina says:

    Beautifully done poem. You are wonderful young lady with a talent for writing.

  63. Craig Burrows says:

    Nicely done Shanelle. A rare gift to put an honest emotional appraisal of difficult times into thoughtful
    elegance. I hope you entertain the thought of writing as an element of further endeavors.

  64. Karen Fedrizzi says:

    Very very well written, congratulations
    on being a finalist. You will be successful
    in whatever you choose to do.

  65. Julie McGowan says:

    What a wonderfully written and well thought out poem and essay! Stay true to yourself and you will go far! My vote is for you.

  66. Julie says:

    Your poem and essay are well written and thought out. Stay true to yourself and you will go far! You get my vote!

  67. Susanne Valdez says:

    Good for you! I hope with this knowledge, you can take care of yourself and rise above.

  68. Ann Fosheim says:

    Excellent Shanelle, very well written! I am very proud of you!

  69. Mollye Hollis says:

    Im so impressed with her maturity and command. Well done!

  70. Angela G says:

    Excellent writing skills! Moreover, the bravery it took to speak the truth about Highlands Ranch is more compelling. I’ve lived in Highlands Ranch for 13 years and am moving back to the Midwest this summer…cannot wait! Shanelle keep using your artistic gifts, they will take you many places in life. Best wishes!

  71. Tige Stromire says:

    Having had to make similar decisions on my kids education I enjoyed the essay and it was very well written

  72. Jeff McLain says:


  73. Emily B. says:

    Very impressive and insightful. Good luck!

  74. Due Hall says:

    My career spanned many years with the University of Colorado School of Medicine Anchutz Campus. Interviewing and selecting medical and dental students for awards and residency positions. Your sensitivity and insight into your peers and community will take you far in whatever field you choose, is it art or science?-/ you have it all! Best in all that challenges you! You would be at the top of our pick!

  75. Tod Hayano says:

    The poem is beautifully written. It evokes a lot of inner turmoil and feelings. The essay does an excellent job of describing Shanelle’s journey. This young lady will go far in her journey of life. Best wishes!

  76. Adrian Matthews says:

    Unfortunately you’ll find that your experience is not limited too that single area or time. Society has moved in this direction for many years and has only accelerated in the last decade. Take what you’ve learned and always remember it, it will serve you well.

  77. Laura M says:

    Growing up in Kansas and now a 10 year “native” of Colorado, I can appreciate every word of this essay. Weather has always had a major impact on my life and I love the parallels she draws here. Beautifully written Shanelle!

  78. Steve says:

    AWESOME poem…

  79. Jess Grady says:

    Really great and powerful poem! Thank you for sharing!

  80. Janey says:

    It takes courage to take an experience so raw and be able to write so eloquently about it. High school is hard as so many of us know. Glad you made it to the other side.

  81. Jeff Voyles says:

    Very bright young woman!

  82. April Jelinek says:

    I love the honesty in your essay and was written very well! The poem was excellent! Great job Shanelle

  83. Maynard Hardel says:

    Some great work Shanelle, you share of yourself in such expressive words. It is a shame to live in an area that you end up not caring for after years of being there. As words from Reba McEntire sang and as Shakespeare had written, “To thine owns self, be true”. You are very smart and beautiful and with your own power, you will go far. Live long and prosper.

  84. Kelsey says:

    Such a very grown up perspective for someone your age! Nicely done, good luck!

  85. Jonryan Mcgregor says:

    Well composed and nicely written! +1 from the scholarly types!

  86. Katy says:

    This poem is beautifully written and I’m sure wasn’t easy to write. You will go so far Shanelle! I can’t wait to see what your future holds!

  87. Melynda wallin says:

    Amazing!! What a beautiful insight!!

  88. Hailey Stromire says:

    The way Shanelle describes Highlands Ranch is exactly the impression we get in Aurora. Good luck and great writing!

  89. Jan Langley says:

    Thoughtful and heartfelt, Shanelle. It brought back memories as my high school years were winding down. I remember having a strong feeling that were bigger and better opportunities out there for me, especially the chance to break free from the identities that get forced on you by your own comfortable, but small communities. You are going to love this next chapter of your life!

  90. Cherry says:

    Well done.

  91. Sara Arnold says:

    Your honesty makes you wise beyond your years. I am sure that pain and betrayal led to your awareness of pretending to be someone else and appearances being more important than anything else. It is a sad commentary on our times. I hope and pray that you will always remember who YOU are and that God has a plan for you.

  92. Kelly Banahan says:

    Loved this poem! Was super relatable. I don’t live in highlands ranch but I know the feeling you’re talking about, it’s like cookie cutter people everywhere, hard to not conform to it without being an odd ball out

  93. Carly Mawson says:

    As an English teacher in the UK I am very impressed with Shanelle’s work! Articulate and on point! Well done!

  94. Leah says:

    Keep writing. Your talent deserves to be shared with others. Best of luck!

  95. Kristen Terjesen says:

    Shanelle, that was so true and beautifully said/ written! I haven’t seen you in years but I got to spend some of your early years with you! I’m seriously amazed with the young women you have become and wish you all the best! Xoxo

  96. LM says:

    Great job, Shanelle!

  97. Cindy says:

    Very well written look at sub culture inside a geographical location. If everyone was more in touch with their surroundings many cultural issues could be handled in a better manner.

  98. Mallory says:

    Great good

  99. Patti Noriega says:

    Beautifully written and great choice of words.

  100. Corey says:

    Such a beautiful poem and well-written essay. Really moving. My favorite line is “Regretful memories well up in
    those water lily eyes” – that’s going to stay with me! Good luck 🙂

  101. Kavon Cartwright says:

    Wow, Shanelle! Your Poem is so amazing and very powerful! Amazing Job!

  102. Brittany Haynes says:

    Shanelle – This is a beautifully written poem with an excellent response. Any college would be lucky to have you. Best of luck!

  103. Kim Bernatow says:

    Shanelle- your poem, essay and story are beautiful. I know that you’re ready for the world but I’m not sure it’s ready for you! Go out there and get it, girl! Much love!

  104. Paul says:

    Wow,Amazing,Im Impressed. I know that you are a very special person and your writing shows that.

  105. John says:

    Well done!!

  106. George says:

    What a powerful poem, it definitely highlights the void of community in modern suburban environments that I believe is the root many issues that the United States faces. Thanks for sharing! Keep up the great work!

  107. Emma Conrad says:

    Shanelle, you have the most raw and beautiful voice when you write, it’s truly amazing. I cannot wait to see the even more incredible woman that you become and I know you will make the best of any situation, academic or personal, that life throws at you. You deserve great things. So proud of you for how hard you’ve worked these last few years.

  108. Steve Gripp says:

    Good luck Shanelle, liked the essay and poem.

  109. Jessica Autrey says:

    So lovely !

  110. Erin says:

    Beautifully written, she deserves to win!

  111. Anon says:

    Beautifully penned.

  112. Bill Wilkening says:

    Shanelle, very thought provoking piece and with brilliant ideology. You deserve every opportunity to foster this passion.
    All the best,
    Bill Wilkening.

  113. Niki Pedersen says:

    Amazing! Brutal yet eloquently situated, you have artistic insight well beyond your years. You will do well in your future with this kind of self and societal awareness!

  114. david prichard says:

    Awesome! What a great essay and poem!

  115. Nicole Valdez says:

    I very much appreciate the honesty of this. The vulnerability is refreshing, and the overall awareness of your surroundings is something that most people don’t grasp until later in their life.
    Stay alert and aware –

    Be well!

  116. Chelsea Parscal says:

    Great essay, Shanelle. I applaud your writing skills and I wish you the best of luck in the future. You’re going to do great things!

  117. Kinsley says:

    Love you sissy! You are amazing!

  118. A says:

    You will do amazing things! Such a great poem and reflection.

  119. Becky says:

    Loved the beautiful imagery used to describe such an ugly environment/culture. Shanelle, your strength of character comes through so much in the essay and will serve you well in your future ventures.

  120. I have never been a big fan of poems , but this one I could picture and understand where it was coming from and enjoyed it a lot and that’s saying a lot , I really did not enjoy poems very much but she has opened my eyes to it again and I am going to give it another try , thanks Shanelle for opening my eyes to something I never thought I would get into . Thanks again

  121. Lora says:

    Wow! I really enjoyed that one!

  122. Donald L Savage says:

    Thank you for writing such a well thought out and personal message. I can only imagine the difficulty in being so honest in a public setting such as this. We wish you the best and know you will do great things!

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