Hometown heroes can inspire minds, lives

By David Wolff

District Coordinator of Gifted and  Talented Services

Batman is to Gotham as Superman is to Metropolis; both hometown heroes. When you think about Austin’s hometown heroes several people could come to mind, like John Madden, Ralph Holman, and Richard Eberhart.

Hometown heroes give citizens pride in our community and the people we call neighbors. One hometown hero’s accomplishments is celebrated and honored each April — Mr. Richard Eberhart.

In addition to teaching for 30 years at Dartmouth University as professor of English, Mr. Eberhart’s accomplishments include winning the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Selected Poems, 1930–1965, as well as named Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress for 1959–61 by President Eisenhower.

This year marked the 11th annual Richard Eberhart Poetry Contest in Austin Public Schools. This annual tradition celebrates the accomplishments of Richard Eberhart, as well as the talents of 24 of our students.

Each year, students are encouraged to submit an original piece of poetry to the contest; this year, we received 443 submissions. Three finalists from each school building are invited to “A Night with Our Poets” event which celebrates their writings. At the event this year, students read their poems as well as recognized an adult that inspired their creativity and desire to write poetry.

The winner from each building was recognized at the event as well given a cash award from the Richard Eberhart Endowment, which is managed through the Austin Public Education Foundation.

The event is a community collaboration between the Austin Public Schools, Austin Public Education Foundation, the Friends of the Public Library, the Historic Hormel Home, and the family of Richard Eberhart.

Not only can hometown heroes save lives, but they can also inspire lives too.

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