APS Column: Celebrating our student poets

Published 8:18 pm Friday, April 14, 2023

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By Andrea Malo

Gifted Services for Talent Development Coordinator

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? Started by the Academy of American Poets in April of 1996, National Poetry Month celebrates the fact that poetry plays an important role not just in our culture, but worldwide. That’s why there is no better time than the month of April to celebrate and recognize the student poets of Austin Public Schools.

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Austin Public Schools has a 17-year tradition of recognizing the talents and creativity of our students through the annual Austin Public Schools Poetry Contest. In the late winter of each year, students in kindergarten through grade 12 are invited to enter their unique poems with the overall winners at each site receiving a cash prize. Once poems are submitted, they are blindly reviewed by the Austin High School Language Arts Department. Each year the judges share how difficult it is to determine the top three finalists and winner for each school. The poems that are entered range from reflective to humorous, and many feature vivid imagery and expression.  

This year we will recognize our 24 finalists with a Night of Poetry on Tuesday, April 18, at the Historic Hormel Home beginning at 6:30 p.m. The event will also be live streamed at https://youtube.com/live/Oto0gZqRYCw. Each of the finalists will be invited to read their poem at the event and recognize someone who has inspired them in their work as a poet. Each of the poets will receive a certificate and a book of poetry. At the end of the evening, the first place winners from each of the buildings will be announced and they will receive a cash prize. All awards and prizes are sponsored through the generous support of the Austin Public Education Foundation and the Friends of the Library.

While poetry is a unit of study for our students in their language arts courses, there are other opportunities for our students to learn about being a poet or author. Young Authors Young Artists (or YAYA) is a program presented each year by the Southeast Service Cooperative. A small group of students in grades 6-8 have an opportunity to attend in the fall of the year, and a small group of 4th and 5th grade students can attend in the spring of the year. Through this opportunity students can learn from and work with authors, poets, illustrators, artists, and journalists to expose them to joy of writing and creating.  

We wish to congratulate all this year’s poetry finalists and winners along with all of those that submitted a poem for this year’s contest. The talent of our students is great, and they should be celebrated and recognized for their work.