News & Politics

Aliens and Hedgehogs: Local Kids Write Inauguration Stories

Forget the Labradoodle, Mr. Obama. How about a pair of aliens from Saturn?

Four students at Watkins Elementary wrote a story about two extraplanetary pets seeking a home in the White House. But instead of earning a spot on the refrigerator, their story, along with five others, will be performed by professional actors at the Kennedy Center on January 17.

Story Pirates, a New York-based arts-education organization, asked local youngsters to write stories for an inauguration-themed show and have whittled down 100 submissions to those showing the most creativity. Now they’re creating props, making costumes, and writing songs for a three-to-five-minute performance of each kid’s story.

Themes? Think hedgehogs at the White House. Think ten-legged horses.

“We are unbelievably faithful to the stories that kids have written,” says Story Pirate CEO Benjamin Salka. “We don’t embellish by introducing new story elements because we think it might funnier.”

In one story, the writer wishes on a shooting star that she might become president. The next morning, she wakes up and—poof—she’s a candidate. Her first campaign stop: Florida (smart kid). With a little help from family and friends, she wins the election, “solves the war,” and learns that “things don’t turn out the way you think they are going to turn out.”

In another story, two monsters from Gooeyville and their friend, a frog from the swamp, set out on a road trip to find Barack Obama the perfect inaugural gift. A lava lamp, a McDonald’s toy, and a mirror are all considered. But after running out of gas, meeting a ten-legged horse, stealing a French lady’s purse, and escaping from the cops, they end up in Nebraska with a book from a French store. They manage to keep it slime-free.

When they present the gift to Obama, he responds: “That’s half-weird and half-nice.”

“We’re really careful to not talk about a story being better or the best,” Salka says. “This is not a writing contest. Every kid has a story to tell.”

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Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.