Twenty students from Ranchvale Elementary will have poems and essays they wrote published in an anthology called “Celebration of Young Poets.” (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Leslie Radford: CNJ staff writer
It wasn’t a project designed to take home to hang on the refrigerator. Instead it was an assignment designed to get fifth- and sixth-grade students at Ranchvale Elementary to view poetry as a viable form of expression and perhaps a little national exposure.
More than 40 fifth- and sixth-graders wrote on topics such as their dad going off to war, being a big sister and the thrill of riding a dirt bike — with 20 students being selected for publication in poetry anthology book called “A Celebration of Young Poets.”
Nathan Morgenstern, 11, wrote about how eye-glass wearers are perceived through the eyes of others.
“I just thought about all the different people who wore glasses,” he said, “how they’re made fun of, how they feel about their glasses and the different kinds of people who wear glasses.”
Michael Watson, 12, wrote a poem called “Christmas Has No Merry,” in which he expressed his sadness and concern for his father fighting in Iraq instead of being home with his family for Christmas.
Watson’s dad is stationed at Cannon Air Force Base.
It is the fifth year the school has entered the poetry contest.
“This is the largest group we’ve ever had published,” Ranchvale teacher Tamara Manasco said. “Almost half of those who entered are getting the chance to be published.”
She said Ranchvale uses self-critique-based workshops that start in kindergarten to develop reading and writing skills.
She believes these workshops in combination with entering the writing contest allows children to “develop writing skills and build their self-esteem.”
“It also gives the kids an outlet to express themselves and be acknowledge,” she said. “Every student need to be acknowledged for their efforts.”
Geanna Estes’ poem “I Am a Big Sister” will also be included in the anthology along with her essay on being drug-free.
Estes explained why being drug free was important to her.
“You get special privileges like getting good grades in school,” she said. “Also, your parents can trust you.”
Fifth-grader Cassidy Doss was excited to hear her biopoem “Cassidy” was accepted.
“We had an outline we had to follow and write about ourselves,” said the 11-year-old student who thought the assignment was one of her best works.
The group had a hard time containing their excitement when they were notified of their acceptance during a school board meeting in January.
“They were trying to behave while they were in front of the school board,” Manasco said.
“But when we got back in the room, we started jumping up and down and screaming,” said Doss.