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caption: 10th grade Meadowdale High School student Jadey Ong with her boyfriend Logan on July 4, 2019.
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10th grade Meadowdale High School student Jadey Ong with her boyfriend Logan on July 4, 2019.
Credit: Sun Jin Ong

We asked Seattle youth about love. They did not disappoint

Get out a box of chalky Sweethearts and some tissues and prepare to take a few notes, grownups.

For Valentine's Day we thought it would be cute to ask the youth who have not yet been wearied by crushing heartbreak and bad Tinder dates to tell us their thoughts about love.

We were not prepared for all of the charm and wisdom that came our way.

Kaelin Silas, 11th grade, Garfield High School, Seattle

On Tuesday they are just a name, a classmate sitting across from you in AP environmental science. But by Wednesday they are suddenly the reason you come to school, the reason you get up in the morning. The reason you breathe. Suddenly your face catches on fire when they’re near. Suddenly couples in movies become you and them. Suddenly a song becomes the song that would play when you kiss, and it starts to play in your mind on repeat. Good luck escaping. Love is a clamp that will strangle your insides and refuse to let go.

Naomi Daniel, 3rd grade, Bureau of Fearless Ideas, Seattle

Just make sure if you really like somebody, like, really really, just take a chance for it. You never know what will happen. They might like you back, they might not, but you never know. So, that’s what I say.

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3rd grader Naomi Daniel shares about the student-planned wedding that happened on her elementary school's field during recess. Naomi told this story to KUOW Community Engagement producer Kristin Leong at the Greenwood branch of the Bureau of Fearless Ideas on January 20, 2020.
Credit: KUOW/Kristin Leong

Mohamad Abdi, 10th grade, International School, Bellevue

Four years ago, back in 7th grade, our teacher gave us a class period to create a Valentine's Day card for someone we liked. I remember making an anonymous card that I intended to give to my middle school crush. The card took no more than five minutes, but I was satisfied. Right before the end of the school day, I gave the card to my crush's friend, and asked her to give it to her. As the year went on, nothing changed. Who knows what happened? Who knows if the card ever made it to my crush.

Jadey Ong, 10th grade, Meadowdale High School, Lynnwood

Love comes from the most unexpected places. We met when we were 13, complete polar opposites. I was that goody-goody-never-broken-a-rule girl. Yet, I caught myself falling for this hooligan! Always goofing off in class and not the straight-A student I thought I would’ve fallen for. But here I am, three years later, understanding this confusing feeling. It’s clear to me what love is. You get swept off your feet, but that’s not even the best part. Love is unconditional, when your flaws are embraced. You make one another better people and it’s a pretty awesome feeling.

Bayla Cohen-Knott, 9th grade, The Center School, Seattle

You can discover love everywhere. I saw some in Pioneer Square, a walking tour waiting for the light to change, a woman rests her hand against a man’s back and keeps it there. I saw some at Westlake, a woman walking a stroller with a heart balloon tied to the handle. I saw some last week in myself when my best friend knew exactly what I both wanted and needed. It came in the form of a perfect present and the confirmation that she’s listening.

Audrey Lang, 11th grade, Oak Harbor High School, Oak Harbor

When I was 13, my godfather was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. ALS has no cure and is 100% fatal. My godfather means the absolute world to me and I learned that unconditional love is way more than just two words. I'm always thinking of new ways to help raise money for his treatment and his family. The nights I’ve cried thinking of him are uncountable. To this day he is the strongest person I know, even with his disease he continues to smile and find the best in every single situation. He is my idol.

caption: From 11th grade Oak Harbor High School student, Audrey Lang: "This is a picture of my dad and godfather in Hawaii in April of 2017. We took this trip as a way of celebrating the time that he had left of being able to move and walk somewhat freely without assistance. I snapped this picture while both of our families were walking down the sidewalk above the beach towards our dinner reservation that night, and my dad and him looked so happy it was the perfect opportunity for a picture."
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From 11th grade Oak Harbor High School student, Audrey Lang: "This is a picture of my dad and godfather in Hawaii in April of 2017. We took this trip as a way of celebrating the time that he had left of being able to move and walk somewhat freely without assistance. I snapped this picture while both of our families were walking down the sidewalk above the beach towards our dinner reservation that night, and my dad and him looked so happy it was the perfect opportunity for a picture."
Credit: Audrey Lang

Olivia Kwon, 3rd grade, Bureau of Fearless Ideas, Seattle

When I was in preschool I couldn’t sleep by myself so I always went to my mom and she let me stay. It felt nice. But now I’m in 3rd grade and I sleep by myself mostly.

Hina Seaton, 3rd grade, Bureau of Fearless Ideas, Seattle

My dog had an ordinary day. He felt lonely and needed some family love. I saw him. I comforted my dog till he yawned and I yawned. When he fell asleep I laid myself on his furry coat. He had some love from me.

Mariam Khazal, 9th grade, Foster High School, Tukwila

I get sick a lot and my parents are always there, checking up on me, staying up all night making sure my fevers go down and that I am all right. They always take days off from work. My mom makes warm soups for me and my dad walks in the horrible Seattle weather to get me my medicine. Always thankful for them and what they do for me.

caption: Mariam Khazal's parents Mohammed Khazal and Rasha Ibrahim pose for a photo at a Seattle park while Mariam's little sister and a friend play on the seesaw, summer 2019.
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Mariam Khazal's parents Mohammed Khazal and Rasha Ibrahim pose for a photo at a Seattle park while Mariam's little sister and a friend play on the seesaw, summer 2019.
Credit: Mariam Khazal

Maia Demar, 12th grade, Garfield High School, Seattle

My head feels like it is filled with teenage fog on occasion, like my brain is made of cotton wool.

My boy brings me out of my stupors. He lights up my life, brings color and sound to the murkiness that sometimes curls up and makes its nest in my head.

After a year of feeling lost in space my boy brought me back to earth like no one else could. I’ve learned to look into myself for happiness, thanks to him. The sunshine comes from within.

caption: Garfield High School senior Maia Demar with her boyfriend Max Devine.
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Garfield High School senior Maia Demar with her boyfriend Max Devine.
Credit: Maia Demar

Caden LaMar, 9th grade, Shorecrest High School, Shoreline

I want a gentle first love, someone who knows I'm soft inside. I want someone who will hold my curls away from the trash when my stomach feels sick from anxiety. I want them to see through me and know all the little things I do when I'm not myself. I want someone who will let me take them to the top of Seattle's largest library to show the vintage photographs I look at when I'm down. I want them to make me want to get through every rough patch. I want someone who can get through the rough patches. I want someone who wants to send me letters even though they live 100 streets away. I want someone who posts poetry about me. I want the kid with blue gray eyes and soft hair. I think I'm in love.

caption: Zedd Potestà takes a photo of while Caden takes a photo of him. From Caden: "This picture represents what I wrote [about love] because it's a picture of the person I wrote it about."
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Zedd Potestà takes a photo of while Caden takes a photo of him. From Caden: "This picture represents what I wrote [about love] because it's a picture of the person I wrote it about."
Credit: Caden LaMar

Mesgana Alemshowa, 4th grade, Bureau of Fearless Ideas, Seattle

I thought I was too young to be learning stuff. By 1st grade I had memorized my times tables and had 2nd grade grammar. I always used to think my dad made me study to be mean. But I’ve learned that he just wants a good future for me! But now that I go to a school where fourth graders like me learn 5th and 6th [grade curriculum], all I have to say is, I love you, Dad.

Anub Zakaryas, 6th grade, Bureau of Fearless Ideas, Seattle

Don’t change yourself to be who someone wants you to be. You have to be with someone that likes you for you. Don’t change yourself for what other people want you to be.

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6th grade Lakeside School student Anub Zekaryas shares his advice on love at the Greenwood branch of the Bureau of Fearless Ideas in Seattle. January 20, 2020.
Credit: KUOW/Kristin Leong

For more voices from our community, subscribe to our KUOW Conversations newsletter and follow us on Twitter @KUOWengage.

Thank you to all of the teachers and to Youth in Focus and Coyote Central for spreading the word about our call for love stories! And thank you especially to the brave students of the Greenwood branch of the Bureau of Fearless Ideas for sharing your wisdom with us and welcoming me into your magical space.

The Bureau of Fearless Ideas is s a non-profit learning organization where creative writing and storytelling empowers youth aged 6-18 to be the authors of their own future.