Reading Council honors young poets

Winners recognized for creativity, imagery

March 28, 2004|By Amanda Ponko | Amanda Ponko,SUN STAFF

The Harford County Reading Council has honored young aspiring writers for their entries in the organization's 23rd annual writing contest.

More than 500 students entered their poems on this year's theme, "You're a Poet and Don't Know It." The poets ranged from kindergarten to 12th grade.

Kathleen Mikos, an eighth-grade language arts teacher at Fallston Middle School and a member of the HCRC committee that judged the contest, said the committee was looking for strong visual imagery and cohesion. "The kids [wrote about] a lot of big ideas, like life and love," she said. "It's a wonderfully expressive channel for children to use."

FOR THE RECORD - In an article about the Reading Council honoring young poets, Alison Pullen's school was listed incorrectly. Alison attends Forest Hill Elementary.
The Sun regrets the error.

Poems were separated into six categories, which grouped grades for judging. Each category had a first-, second- and third-place winner, along with honorable mentions.

Among the first-place winners was 6-year-old Katie Walker of William S. James Elementary in Abingdon, who wrote a poem about purple, her favorite color.

"It makes me feel happy," she said. Her poem describes a world with "purple flowers and a purple sky."

Katie said she worked hard on her poem and was excited when she found out that she had won.

She and the other winners read their poems to dozens of teachers, administrators and parents at a recent award ceremony. The winners were rewarded with books and gift certificates to Barnes and Noble.

Andrea Vogel, co-chairwoman of the writing contest and a reading specialist teacher at William S. James, said being a part of the HCRC is a good way for her and her pupils to stay involved and current with the reading and writing world.

"Parents tend to get children involved with sports and music and the arts, which is wonderful, but this gives children a chance to express themselves," she said. "They can take what they really had inside and put it down on paper. ... It just opens up a lot of doors."

Also among the first-place winners was 13-year-old Leah Grothe of Fallston Middle School, an eighth-grader in Mikos' class (Mikos said she did not judge her pupils' entries). Leah recently won first place for her poem "Guardians" in the statewide competition in the sixth, seventh- and eighth-grade category.

Leah's poem:

Sun warm me

Caress my face in your gentle rays as a mother would a wounded child

Awaken me with your vibrant colors

Bathe me in your silent strength

Night, comfort me

Hold me under your star-studded blanket

Fill me with the quiet calm of peace.

Tracey Evans, president of the HCRC and a reading specialist at Bakersfield Elementary, said Leah deserved the Harford County award and the state award. She captured her feelings magnificently through her eloquent word choice and beautiful construction of the poem, Evans said.

"The writing contest is to showcase our young writers and to show them how important it is that they share their piece, " she said. "This is not a competition but a way for kids to voice themselves as writers."

Evans has been a member of HCRC for eight years, she said. The organization, which has more than 290 members, many of them teachers, strives to promote literacy in and out of school. She thinks this contest does just that.

Mikos said she felt so strongly about the importance of the contest that she made it a writing assignment for her class.

"I think everyone needs recognition at some point," she said.

"Some children hide themselves in their writing, and their writing can create some spark, some nuance in them that you wouldn't otherwise see. That's why I think it's so important."

Winners, by category

Class A, prekindergarten and kindergarten: 1st, Kassie Dieter, Norrisville Elementary; 2nd, Shelby Gahler, Forest Hill Elementary; 3rd, Cassidy N. Titus, Abingdon Elementary; honorable mention, Alison Pullen, Abingdon Elementary.

Class B, first grade: 1st, Katie Walker, William S. James Elementary (Abingdon); 2nd, Jeffrey W. Newton, Meadowvale Elementary (Havre de Grace); 3rd, Kevin Mouring, Bakerfield Elementary (Aberdeen); honorable mention, Abby Tallon, William S. James Elementary.

Class C, second and third grades: 1st, Joshua Cook, William Paca/Old Post Road Elementary (Abingdon); 2nd, Kyle Gorham, Meadowvale Elementary; 3rd, Timothy M. James, Meadowvale Elementary; honorable mention, Holli Rutkowski, Fountain Green Elementary (Bel Air).

Class D, fourth and fifth grades: 1st, Samantha L. Williams, Harford Christian School (Darlington); 2nd, Julia Lynn Burke, Youth's Benefit Elementary (Fallston); 3rd, Anna Holmes, Homestead-Wakefield Elementary (Bel Air); honorable mention, Michael N. Rothmeyer and Tamera Holbrook, Meadowvale Elementary.

Class E, sixth, seventh and eighth grades: 1st, Leah Grothe, Fallston Middle; 2nd, Colleen Allen, Fallston Middle; 3rd, Katie Holter, Fallston Middle; honorable mention, Lydia Waters, Magnolia Middle.

Class F, ninth through 12th grades: 1st, Sara Meagher, North Harford High (Pylesville); 2nd, Brian Averill, John Carroll School (Bel Air); 3rd, Matthew Heaps, North Harford High; honorable mention, Drew Hoopes, Harford Technical (Bel Air).

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