Contest reaches poetic side of students

First Posted: 1/27/2009

From books to football, students at J.J. Jones Intermediate School are making waves with their poetry.
A number of students entered the Creative Communication Inc. poetry contest, doing so well that the school received the Poetic Achievement Award for having so many entries that were accepted. The award goes to the top 10 percent of schools participating in the country. In receiving this award, the students who were selected will have their poems published in an anthology which will be available for purchase. Only about half of the poems submitted each year are selected for publication.
Some of the students also entered a poetry contest with the North Carolina Poets Society. Those results have not yet been released, but last year a Jones student received honorable mention in that contest.
The students, many of whom have only recently discovered a love of poetry, drew inspiration from experiences in their daily lives and even on occasion things about which they knew only a little.
Rachel Evans, a fifth grader, wrote about her experiences with a video game in her poem, Life as a Surgeon. With ambitions of becoming a surgeon one day, she journeyed through the operation process in her poem, bringing her patient back from cardiac arrest only to remove his appendix.
Taylor Bouma, another fifth grader, wrote about the sights and sounds associated with going to an Alabama football game. From the crowd shaking noise-makers to the progress of the game through all four quarters, Bama came out on top with the crowd shouting Roll, Tide, Roll!
When you write poetry, you have to write something youre passionate about, said Haylee Tompkins, a fifth grader.
Jack McCluskey, a fifth grader, enjoys reading books and so managed to incorporate a number of books into his poem, The Magical World of Books. From Harry Potter to Moby Dick, his poem ventured through the world of fiction before ending back in reality.
Many of the students have not been excited about poetry in the past but through the teachings of Kathy Ratcliffe and Tarona Hollingsworth, they have come to have an appreciation for it.
I moved here last year and didnt think much about poems, said fifth grader Randy Simmons. Since this class Ive gotten really into poems.
I really didnt like poetry in my old school. I would just write stories. Mrs. Hollingsworth has books of poetry and Im going to enter the contest, said Caleb Carson, another fifth grader, who plans to enter the spring poetry contest.
They have also drawn from their work with Jacobs Ladder, a reading and critical thinking program implemented in the school. The program has students answer in-depth questions about reading passages and also asks them to rewrite stories in their own words to provide a deeper understanding of what it is about.
Jacobs Ladder inspired me to do poetry. That way I get to see what other poetry people write, said Sean Evans, a fourth grader.
Students have taken a great deal from their experiences writing poetry, from learning that it is a way to express themselves to being better prepared for what is to come in school as the poems become more complex.
Im glad we entered so we can be prepared as the poems get harder, said fifth grader Molly Hartness.
Sometimes when I go to write a poem it helps me to express myself, said Matthew Eads, a fifth grader.
You can express yourself and write about anything you want, said Chelsey Baker, another fifth grader.
This is the second year Jones Intermediate has received the Poetic Achievement Award. Ratcliffe, who encourages her students to enter contests whenever possible, hopes they continue to excel in school. She noted that the students come from diverse backgrounds so the school learns a great deal about them through their work.
These children right here are our future. I want to give them new ways to create, she said. There could be a future poet or playwright in here. You never know what these students can do.
Other contest winners include Bryson Varney, Logan Draughon, Corbin Welch, Jackson Smith, Matt Dodd, Megan Fleming, Keara Halpern, Kyara Revels, Dylan Beasley and Walker Hall.
Along with Carson, Austin McBride is also hoping to enter the spring contest.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.

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