Published poets: Fifth-graders have reason to celebrate
PERRYOPOLIS – Central Elementary School has 20 newly published poets.
Fifth-grade teachers Mary Kay Toth and Janet Frescura took their fall poetry units to the logical conclusion, submitting students’ work for inclusion in the Pennsylvania edition of “A Celebration of Young Poets.”
“We usually do a poetry unit and we go through different types of poetry,” said Toth, of Perryopolis. “They knew they were writing a poem for the contest.” She was surprised that over half of the poems were selected for publication and very pleased for the young writers’ sakes.
“It makes them excited to see what they can accomplish. Parents come to me and say how much the student’s self-esteem has been raised since they’ve been published.”
Some of the children have had poems published before, but most experienced the pride of seeing their work in print for the first time. They drew subjects from their lives, from school assignments and from the Sept. 11 tragedy, which had happened just before their teachers assigned a poem for possible publication.
Matt Deabner of Fayette City wrote a poem called “Summer/Winter,” in which he compared fun during the two seasons. “I was happy when I found out it was in the book. I like writing.”
“Dog/Cat” by Grindstone resident Billy Hetherington was inspired by the deadline. “I couldn’t think of anything else. The poem compares the differences between them. I was surprised. I’ve won poster contests before.”
Perryopolis poet Eric Inman wrote of current events. “Sept. 11th” was the first thing that entered his mind when he received the assignment. “The tears fell as the towers did,” he wrote. “I sometimes like writing poetry. I was really happy and glad it was included. I’ve never been a winner in a poetry contest.”
Maeve Lee of Grindstone also wrote about Sept. 11. “It’s called ‘Sept. 11, 2001.’ I thought it was interesting. I wrote about all the buildings crashing to the ground. I was surprised it was published. I like to write stories but I’m not too good at poetry. Now I feel different.”
Nathan Kulikoski of Vanderbilt chose a familiar subject for his poem, “My Name Is Nate.” He said, “I described me because I know a lot about myself. It was kind of easy. I like writing poetry. I read a lot of poetry books. I was surprised it was published because I didn’t think I was that good.”
“My Puppy” by Angie Miller of Grindstone is a humorous poem. “I think it was pretty funny: ‘My puppy chews on shoes/Which gives him the blues.’ I like dogs. I like writing, but I didn’t think my poem was good enough to win.”
Shawn Novak of Newell chose a subject he loves for his poem, “Flying/Aviation.” “I thought of my favorite things and jotted down a few things about it. I’ve never flown before. I want to be an Air Force pilot. I don’t like writing poetry, but my parents and I were amazed it was published.”
Shawn Spiker of Grindstone wrote “My Cat” the day he got his cat, named Cat. “If I could bring Cat to school I would. I wrote about Cat instead. The poem’s all right. I’ve never won a poetry contest before.”
Derek Thompson of Fayette City also wrote about felines in “Cat/Kitten.” He has a cat and said, “I wrote about a kitten changing into a cat. I like writing. I’ve written poetry before and have been published in the newspaper, but I was surprised.”
Steven Toth of Jefferson Township chose a favorite activity for his poem, “Lego World.” He said, “I like to build with Legos. They’re fun. They’re something to do when I’m bored. I wrote about the different kinds of Legos you can build. I like writing poetry. I was published in “Celebrations” last year. I didn’t think my poem was very good, but I guess it was.”
“School” was written by Laura Vannucci of Grindstone. “I couldn’t think of anything else. ‘Some people goof off/And some people yell.’ I like writing a lot, but I write mostly stories. It was done in a hurry, so I was surprised.”
“One Day” by Matthew Bird of Perryopolis is about a frog. “It was the first thing that came to my mind. It was only the third poem I’ve ever written.”
Steven Cowen of Perryopolis took a social studies unit and turned it into poetry with “Aztecs.” “We learned about them in social studies, about the gods they had. I write poetry only when I need to.”
Cody Rhodes of Newell also wrote about Aztecs. “The Aztec” tied into the social studies unit. “We had to write something about what we were doing in social studies. I wrote about their crops. I was surprised. I don’t like writing. I like drawing.”
Ryan Knoll of Vanderbilt wrote “9-11” because “I wanted to write something patriotic since it was pretty close to when it happened. I wanted to explain what happened. I was surprised it was chosen. I wasn’t sure because everybody in Pennsylvania was entering as well.”
Alayna Lincoln of Perryopolis wrote “The Tragedy” about Sept. 11. “I felt like I should write about it because it was going on. I wrote about how I felt, sad, and how people felt, mad that they had done it. I write a lot, so I wasn’t surprised it was published.”
Grindstone poet Erin Kuhn’s “Reach for the Stars” exhorts readers to “follow your dreams and do what you want to do. I was published in fourth grade. I didn’t think mine would make it because a lot of people entered.”
“At Breakfast” by Destiny McKnight of Fayette City is a domestic poem. “At the moment I thought about it, I got the poem done pretty quickly. I described my family eating the breakfast my mother made for us. I wrote a few other poems, but this was my favorite one, so I was pretty confident.”
Brittany Moore of Grindstone wrote “Leaves” because she likes nature. “I talked about them in different seasons, shapes and sizes. I like to write short, short stories, but I was surprised they published it because there were so many other people who wrote poetry.”
Corre Strickler of Fayette City also turned to nature for “My Special Apple Tree.” “I did plant this tree a few years ago. It’s alive. I just wanted something to take care of. I was interested in my apple tree. I never got one published before.”
Because so many Central students had poems published, the school received the distinction as a Poetic Achievement Honor School in the anthology, which contains work from throughout the state. “A Celebration of Young Poets” has been published by Creative Communication of Logan, Utah, for the last nine years.
“We’ve been participating for a couple years,” said Toth. “The chance to get published really motivates some of the students.”