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2022-2023 Creative Writers Published in New Times


Last year, Elizabeth Jorgensen, an English teacher at Arrowhead High School, shared 55 Fiction with her students. 55 fiction is a contest held by New Times where anyone can submit a micro story that is 55 words or less. If selected as a winner, their story or stories will be published on the New Times website.


Jorgensen says, “I love introducing my students to 55 Fiction, as it’s a genre of writing they are not familiar with. Writing and submitting 55 Fictions is an exercise in brevity and word economy.”


Jorgensen says that last year she submitted entries from her five second semester Creative Writing classes. 


“I love that so many 55 Fictions have creative twists or unexpected endings and I find it entertaining and remarkable what my creative writing students are able to do in 55 words or less,” Jorgensen says.


The judges at New Times selected six AHS students—class of 2024’s Khadija El-Refaie, 2023’s Francesa Smith, 2023’s Noah Fohey, 2023’s Katherine Thompson, 2023’s Christian Berry, and 2024’s Emily Biwer—as winners in their 2023 contest. 


In total, there were 18 winners from all over the country. The short stories were published in the New Times in July of 2023. 


“Being able to add ‘published author’ to a resume is an impressive feat. I’m so proud of these published and award-winning authors,” Jorgensen says. “I hope their success has inspired all Arrowhead students to write and submit their pieces to writers’ markets. Each Arrowhead student has important stories to share with the world.”


A Very Special Wish by Khadija El-Refaie


“Make a wish,” my mother says.

I blow the candles hoping my wish comes true, and it does. A little puppy barks around my kitchen.

“Aww, you wished for a puppy,” she speaks again.

“Close,” I say. When the puppy picks up a pencil and starts doing my homework, I know my wish was granted.

“I had the idea that a girl was standing on top of a building in a busy city night while it’s windy and there is a voice that whispers to her but when she looks around there is no one there. I wanted that voice to be the thing that emotionally affected her to the point where she felt the need to stay and she felt cared for and that she was worth something,” Biwer said.

According to New Times, submissions are taken each year from across the United States. 


New Times is a locally owned and operated in San Luis Obispo County (California) and is the weekly news and entertainment. They have celebrated over 30 years of publishing the largest paper in the region and covering topics like local news, politics, opinion, food, arts and more.


“With a team to parse through that daily grind of press releases, press conferences, and social media updates, and journalists who have relationships with the community—they know who the relevant experts, elected officials, and community members are and where to find them—we can figure out what’s relevant, what you need to grasp both the big picture and the details,” New Times said on their website.


Break-In by Noah Foley


The door creaked and groaned as it reluctantly swung open, as if it knew the horrors that awaited inside. The walls whispered eerie secrets to each other, their dusty surfaces seemingly alive. The floorboards yelled with each step, as if begging the intruder to leave before it was too late.


An American School by Katherine Thompson


I sit in school, looking at the daily agenda for Spanish.

Lights off. Block the door. No moves. No noises. No phones. I tuck my head and anxiously stare at my Converse.

Footsteps. Another round. More footsteps.

The officer knocks. “You guys passed and can resume class now.”

The drills aren’t always drills anymore.

Biwer said, “I had multiple ideas about what to write. My teacher emphasized twists in the story. One idea was a girl talking about a guy’s beautiful blue eyes and how she’s having emotional love for them but she is just a cashier and he is a customer.”


Cats by Christian Berry


“Oh my god, you can talk!” I said to my cat. “How long could you do this for? Where do you go at night? Why do you bite me? What does a mouse taste like? Do you love me as much as I love you?”

I eagerly await his response.

“Can you feed me now?”


New Times wrote on their website that, “Surprise endings are often found in 55 Fiction, but they’re not a prerequisite for success. They probably turn up a lot because they’re easy to work with and because many writers instinctively aim for the impact of a twist at the end.”

The Voice of Wind by Emily Biwer


I see the cars below speed ahead. It’s cold out in the dark of night, but no one will see me until it’s too late. As I try to convince myself to go, a brush like wind says, “I got you” in my ear. Looking around, there is no one but me on the ledge.

“55 Fiction is the name of this writing game, a tiny literary genre with a proud tradition stretching back a full twelve years to a time when finding good copy to fill our arts and entertainment publication, New Times, was tough to do,” New Times said on their website.

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