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Mikalah and her lens

I am Mikalah. I am 16. I have two sisters. I work at a grocery store called Ingles. I have two dogs. I have the best mom in the world. I am a photographer. I am a writer. Best of all, I am me.

I grew up in a house full of people with a bunch of different personalities. I grew up with a lot of corrections and comparisons. I grew up with laughing and crying. I grew up in a house where I could walk barefoot through the halls and feel comfortable about it. I grew up with dirt always in my hair and chocolate on my face. I grew up watching new things being built and old things being destroyed.

I grew up in my Mamaw’s house. In this house, there was always something new going on, whether it was Papaw working on his newest projects or Mamaw trying out some wonderful concoction of food. My house is one of a kind, and I love it.

When I was younger my mom was a 911 dispatcher. That was her favorite job of all time. She would work nights and come back early in the morning, and yet she would always make time for me and my sisters. She is the best mom in the world. I remember when she quit that job. She thought she didn’t have enough time with us. She then started working at a preschool, so that she could spend more time with us. She has always made sacrifices for my sisters and me. I love her for that.



When I was in the 5th grade, I heard of this thing called the Spring Creek Literacy Project (SCLP). It was in an old school building that is now a community center. It was located in Spring Creek, North Carolina — and the road to get there never failed to make me lose all the food that was in my stomach. My Papaw went to school there. He walked five miles to and from school every day. That is true commitment. I told him I could never do it, so he just called me lazy and laughed at me. I decided I would start SCLP and see what all the talk was about. I loved it.

We were located in Spring Creek for two of the four years I was a student. After a while, I did get over all the car sickness. My Papaw would ask me every day when I walked through the door if I found his yearbook yet. I would always say no, because me being the true 11 and 12 year old I was, I would get caught up in the fun we were having and just not have time to look for it. The days in Spring Creek felt so short. My mind was so focused on the fun I was having — reading and writing and learning about digital stories and everything but the time.

In my third year we changed our name from Spring Creek Literacy Project to Partnership for Appalachian Girls Education. PAGE for short. We also moved from the Spring Creek Community Center to Hot Springs Elementary School, which made it a lot easier to tell our digital stories — short movies that we write and produce about ourselves. The third year I was here, I got involved in this entrepreneurship program we had. At the end we had a bake sale and went to no place other than the Spring Creek Community Center. When we got there, I noticed a stack of books in the corner of the room — yearbooks. I looked in the book and found my Papaw — the years has been good to him. He had that bowl cut and the 50s glasses back then. He looked pretty rough!

My last year of PAGE was my most emotional one. I didn’t want to leave. I made so many new friends. I cried so much because I just didn’t want to leave this place. My friends and I have drifted apart because they went Madison High School, and I went to pursue my dream as a writer attending Madison Early College High School.

That’s OK though. The early college has opened many opportunities for my family and me. For example, I got a letter from the National Honor Society for Scholars for my English and writing. My mom was so proud. I was more surprised than anything. I didn’t think I was that smart. I am so glad I went through the whole four years of PAGE because that is what really improved my writing skills. PAGE has also helped me overcome many fears. When I started PAGE I couldn’t talk to anyone. I was way too nervous. That is what PAGE is all about, helping girls overcome their fears and helping girls enhance the skills they were already born with. PAGE being a part of my life has helped me academically and socially, and for this I will always be grateful.

I mean who doesn’t love food? Especially food that is organic, raw, and amazing. The food we eat here at PAGE is organic, which means that when the food was grown there weren’t any pesticides sprayed on the vegetables and the animals weren’t given any medication to make them larger. In all honesty, growing up I didn’t eat organic things… like at all. When the program started the farm-to-table idea, I wasn’t too fond of it — I thought all the food would have little worms or other mysterious bugs in it, but it didn’t. It actually tasted pretty good. The vegetables tasted richer than the vegetables I have been eating my whole life. I was amazed. Also the meat — you could tell that the animals weren’t treated with hormones. It tasted so good.

Since PAGE started the farm-to-table idea, I have been buying a lot more organic foods, like tomatoes, bananas, apples, and things like that. My mom is proud of me because I want to eat healthier. It makes you feel good when your body is treated right. That all starts with the things you put into yourself.

PAGE Food 5

I love this place. It always has something to do. The scenery is something I will never get tired of. I see a new adventure in every corner I turn. Hot Springs, North Carolina is where I have grown up, where my greatest adventures have come from, where I have learned to love who I am and not to be afraid of the person I will become. Hot Springs is a place that I will always be grateful for.

Growing up I loved playing in the dirt, catching lightning bugs, and just exploring with my friends and family. Hot Springs let me do that. I never held back when it came to adventuring around the mountains, through the hollers, around the rivers, even in the trees. When I would find something new, I felt like I was on top of the world. Nothing could stop me.

In 2014, I moved from Hot Springs to Marshall. It’s a good 40 minute drive from my old house to my new house. I didn’t know what to think about this move. It was different, and to me it was kind of scary. Hot Springs has always been my home, my safe place. To me, nothing could compare to Hot Springs, not even Marshall. When we finally got to the new house, I didn’t really feel too good about it. In the yard there was no flowers — my old house had many flowers, the trees were pushed to the corner of the yard — a place that honestly freaks me out a bit, but this house did have my step-dad — the man that my mom has loved since high school. I was so happy to see my mom, so happy I just kept to myself and let her have this time to herself.

There is one thing that Marshall has that I could now never dream of leaving behind. She is a brown and white bulldog named Daisy. Daisy is a stray that paces up and down my road. Everyone knows her, and no one knows where she came from, or how she got there. She just appeared one day, and we fell in love. She is always sitting beside my feet. Her stub of a tail is always wagging, and she always has a huge smile on her face. Everyone has a bed waiting for Daisy to sleep on, a bowl of food for her to eat, and a bowl of water for her to drink. Daisy is the one that made me feel good about moving. I can never repay her for that.

PAGE Community 7


PAGE Community 8

Mikalah Creasman

Mikalah Creasman is an 11th grader from the rural community of Upper Shut In in Madison County. After participating in the PAGE program for four years, she now serves as staff photographer, documenting the PAGE program and life in her community. Mikalah attends Madison Early College, a program for students that excel academically, and she graduate with an associates degree after her senior year. She then plans to pursue her love for photography and creative writing in college.