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Written By: C. Anne Gutshall, Ph.D Illustrations by: Claire Gutshall
It was the last week before summer vacation at Pleasant Lane
Elementary School and the students were gathered in the gym
for the annual Beautiful Brains Exhibit.
Hana and her friend Rodney walked around looking at the
student projects and ideas.
Flora designed a special leash for walking dogs and cats
together. Suzette worked on posters and speeches to tell
people about how to take better care of the environment.
Miguel and Fareed used their brains to create a new kind of
dance that was part hip hop, part disco and part skateboarding.
Mr. Elm, the school principal, gathered everyone together for
the awards ceremony.
“Many of our participants worked very hard all year.
Successful students used their brains to work and rework their
ideas especially after they made mistakes or their first ideas
failed. These students just added grit,” he said
Mr. Elm held up a sign explaining the word GRIT.
Mr. Elm continued, The first- place award goes to Nelson for
his Peace Project which helps students work out disagreements
and solve problems.
The whole gym cheered and clapped!
As Hana and Rodney left school, Hana told Rodney, “Next
year, I want to enter an idea in the Beautiful Brains Exhibit.”
At dinner Hana was distracted. Her grandpa Omar said
“Hana, my girl, you aren’t even eating your favorite meal
made with fresh vegetables from the garden.”
“Grandpa Omar I have a goal but I don’t even know where to
start,” said Hana.
“A goal that you care about is the best way to begin,said
Grandma Rona.
“Maybe you should learn about other successful people and
how they reached their goals,” said Ma.
Hana’s father gave her a book about Thomas Edison. While
everyone knows Edison invented the light bulb, few realize he
tried and failed more than 500 times before he added grit and
was finally able to succeed.
Hana read about Lady Gaga, a music pop star whose first
record label fired her after just three months. She just added
grit and became wildly successful.
Dr. Seuss, who wrote Hana’s favorite book, Cat in the Hat,
had his first book rejected 27 times. He added grit and went on
to write and publish 48 of the most well -known children
books of all time.
Each of these people used their brains to solve problems, sing
songs or tell stories by trying and failing at first but later
adding grit to persevere until they succeeded.
The summer passed by with an easy rhythm but Hana had yet
to come up with an idea for next year’s Beautiful Brain
In the meantime, Hana was happiest when she spent time in
the garden lovingly caring for the plants. She talked to them
and gave them names. Hana used a medicine dropper to gently
water the most tender seedlings. She picked off bugs and
moved them to other parts of the yard so the tomatoes and
peaches had a chance to ripen.
To help plants grow Hana began to use cans from the recycling
bin to prop them up off the ground. When the shiny soup cans
she used for the cucumbers caused the sun to damage them,
Hana was not discouraged. She came up with a solution by
painting the cans using dark colors to absorb the sun’s rays.
When the plants began to grow so close together that even
Hana could not tell one plant from another, she used the backs
of cereal boxes to make colorful nametags and attached them
to plastic spoons and broken toothbrushes.
Hana used old boots and shoes as planting spaces for young
When her plants needed less rain, she placed umbrellas all
around the garden. She even figured out a solution for plants
that needed to come indoors at night. Hana used her old
wagon as the planter and each morning she would wheel the
wagon out to the sun and each night she would pull the wagon
indoors. Every time there was a problem in the garden, Hana
kept investigating until she discovered a solution.
Hana’s garden was so beautiful and her recycled items were so
artful and ingenious that the neighbors started coming by just
to see what Hana had done the day before.
Mr. and Mrs. Escobar stopped by and told Hana her garden
was art and nature and recycling all in one!
Hana decided to give her garden a name. She called it, “The
gARTen, because it was a garden with art.
With so much admiration, Hana realized that her garden had
become a project worthy of the Beautiful Brains Exhibit!
Mr. Elm gathered the students. “This year’s winner of the
Beautiful Brain Exhibit goes to a student who persisted
throughout the summer, fall, winter and spring. When
problems cropped up, she just added grit,” he exclaimed!
“The winning student began with the goal of caring for her
family garden and she kept on working until she succeeded at
making an artful garden to share with her whole community.
This year’s winner is Hana!,” Mr. Elm announced. The whole
gym cheered and clapped!
And that’s when Edward, who was sitting in the audience, got
an idea.
The End