'Poetry Out Loud' Festival Celebrates Students' Verse

Well-crafted words and images of seasons and siblings, lost pets and dreams of freedom filled the air when young students took the microphone at Poetry Out Loud: A Festival of Children's Poetry on Monday (May 13).  
"If you try to build between us, we will come back together," Albert Leonard Middle School sixth-grader Elana Adams read from her poem "Inseparable". She addressed the audience from the stage at the Whitney M. Young Jr. Auditorium in New Rochelle High School.
Jefferson Elementary School third-grader Ava Jackson read from her piece "The Outrageous Necklace": "So many colors. So beautiful too. Its shapes are like olives with a rainbow hue."
In its 21st year, the night of verse featured poets in grades 3 through 6. They represented each of the six K-5 elementary schools and both middle schools. Drawing hundreds of family members, friends, schoolmates and lovers of the written word, the event is a highlight of the year, presented by The Jeremy Scheinfeld Publishing Center, a program of the New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence.
"The body of work is wide, and truly impressive," said Sabrina Toback, executive director of the Fund, to introduce the evening. "Tonight, these youthful authors join the ranks of seventeen hundred or so other students who have taken the Poetry Out Loud stage over the previous two decades. That's more than a generation's worth! I want to congratulate all of the poets tonight, and tell each of you how excited we are to support you. Thank you for sharing your poetry with us!"
The poems were collected in a keepsake book that was handed out at the event.
Kiana Cruz, a sixth-grader at Isaac E. Young Middle School, wrote about her older brother in her poem, "The Giant I look Up To." George M. Davis Jr. Elementary School third-grader Jadi Zottner wrote about turtles. Carlos Calderon-Hernandez, a fifth-grader at William B. Ward Elementary School, wrote a loving tribute to New York State, called simply "New York."
Columbus Elementary School fifth-grader Jasselyn Santana wrote a powerful poem about immigration; "Freedom Dream."
"In my country we had no food or water," she read. "I come here with no price to pay except the freedom to work hard toward my dream."
Mayor Noam Bramson emceed, and the show featured several guest readers. Board of Education President Jeffrey Hastie read "America" by Claude McKay and "The Struggle Staggers Us" by Margaret Walker. Interim Superintendent Dr. Magda Parvey chose a poem written by New Rochelle High School student Sara Guarin; "Sara With No H".
Principals John Barnes of ALMS and Anthony Bambrola of Davis also read poems.