Only You Are Restricting Us

Note from the author: This poem was inspired by how the education system works against students in many ways. It’s understandably hard (if not impossible) to create a system that can highlight the strengths of every student, but it is my belief that the content areas and skill sets valued by Common Core State Standards and graduation requirements limit “success” to traditional academic achievements like good grades and high test scores. There is so much more to success than getting A’s! This pressure to meet this narrow definition of success squashes the creativity and passion in so many of our students. When MCPS learns to celebrate and cultivate the Arts by giving students more opportunities to practice these skills, students will learn that they are worth more than just a letter grade. 

Who is the one who has the mind of Einstein? Who is the one who can perform three hour equations in three minutes? Who is the one that can graph perfectly without the use of a calculator or paper? Who is the one who must be recognized yet cannot because they cannot pass History class?” I am.

“Then who is the one who has fingers as delicate as feathers? Who is the one that can melt the hearts of even the coldest temperature with a pull of four small strings? Who is the one that can play such a melody that even the angels above cannot compete? Who is the one unable to cure the world because English is there barrier?” I am.

“Then who is the one who uses the pencil as their voice? Who is the one who can bring paper, color, and thoughts all together and bring them to life? Who is the one who creates such a fantastic mirror able to reflect ones soul using only a brush and a canvas? Who is the one we box in because they cannot box in the correct Science answers?” I am.

“Then who is the one who can move as the tree sways? Who is the one that swirls so beautifully that the gliding leaves of autumn get jealous? Who is the one that becomes an open book, telling a story so beautifully that no poet could ever compare? Who is the one we tie down because they cannot tie down the concept of Math to their dancing shoes?” I am.

“Then who is the one that can create new dimensions through words? Who is the one who can move their hands and fast as your eyes moving down their writing? Who is the one who can create revolutions through a simple remix of twenty six letters of out alphabet? Who is the one we pull away from the keyboard because they cannot be pulled into P.E class? I am.

“Who is being held back though there is so much talent hidden behind the walls of our empire? Who is the one that cannot change the world because they cannot change their talents to the empires desires? Who is the one who cannot fly because our failed empire will not untie their wings? Who is the one that is speaking up now?” I am.

“Who is the one restricting them? Who is the one blinding the mathematician? Who is the one muting the musician? Who is the one breaking the artists hands? Who is the one destroying the dancers shoes? Who is the one holding the poets throat? Who is the one? Who? Who? Who?” You are.

You are blinding them. You are muting them. You are breaking their hands. You are destroying their dancing shoes. You are holding their throats. You are not letting us fly. It is you. It is you. It is you. Only you are restricting us. You.

“I am. I am. I am.”

Note from the editor: Stella Ho of Sherwood High School is the second place winner of the MoCo Student Inaugural ‘Young Voices Matter’ contest

Graphic by Juliana Yang of Blair High School

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About MoCo Student

The MoCo Student ( is an independent, countywide news network created in 2012 to share fresh and relevant information written by youths to the wider Montgomery County student body. Since its creation, the organization has been entirely student-run. Today, the MoCo Student is staffed by over 60 selected writers, artists, filmmakers, and editors from more than 20 MCPS middle and high schools. In this blog with MyMCMedia, the MoCo Student will channel insights and perspectives of youths on the many facets of MoCo culture and politics. Specifically, we will focus on student responses to policy changes and controversies in our county’s education systems. All questions or concerns should be directed to


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