Wednesday, April 30, 2014

'Border Voices' includes those of eight SD Unified students

Student-poets from Hawthorne and Spreckels elementary, and Grant K-8 schools have been honored by Border Voices, San Diego's promoters of poetry.

Student winners are, in the Lower Division (grades K-5): First Place Poem, Kathy Fermin, "Halloween Barn Dance," grade 3, Spreckels Elementary School; Second Place Poem, Isaiah Chappell, "Camping In Fall," grade 3, Grant K-8 School;Third Place Poem, Antonio Banet, "Jumping Baby," grade 3, Spreckles Elementary; Fourth Place, Zachary Berner, "I Don't Know," Grant K-8.

In the Upper Division (grades 6-12), winners are: First Place Poem, Lizbeth García-Chavez, grade 9, Morse High School; Second Place, Heidi Thoi, grade 6, Hawthorne Elementary; Third Place, "Living Within Lillian Robinson, grade 6, Hawthorne Elementary; Croix Black, "Restless Wings," grade 5, Hawthorne Elementary.

According to Border Voices, the non-profit organization places poets in hundreds of classrooms throughout San Diego County, resulting in spectacular increases in scores on standardized tests. Events, called "poetry fairs," feature celebrated poets from around the world, students reading their award-winning poems, clowns, music and other delights.

The students will be reading their poems onstange, receiving cash and other awards for their poetry at this year’s fair, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. May 31 at the San Diego Central Library, 330 Park Blvd. (92101). Also appearing will be poets Jackleen Holton, Celia Sigmon, Veronica Cunningham and Seretta Martin. All four are widely published, all have taught poetry in San Diego classrooms for many years.

Border Voices is sponsored by San Diego State University, and has partnerships with school districts throughout San Diego County and Nevada, as well as California Poets in the Schools. A $20,000 study by the California Arts Council showed that Border Voices workshops resulted in “huge aj=nd continuing increases in scores on standardized English tests.”

For more information, visit, or call the hotline at 619-293-2546.

Award-Winning Poems

First Place Poem, Lower Division

Halloween Barn Dance

Here we are, seven of us, crowded into an old red truck
riding down the icy road. I'm Peter Pumpkin
driving us to a Halloween party in my policeman hat.
Bella Black Cat sits next to me in her yellow wool coat.
Terry Turnip, Corn Cob, Carrot Top, Rachel Radish and
Albert Asparagus shiver in the back seat. Birds fly
home to the warmth of trees. We hear the wind howl
and passing Farmer Joe's Café we smell burgers in the night air.
Bright lights shine on the dark road, and we're almost there.
Turn on the country music, heat up the cider! Let's dance!

Kathy Fermin
Grade 3, Spreckels Elementary
Poet-Teacher: Seretta Martin
Classroom Teacher: Millie Weil

 Second Place Poem, Lower Division

Camping in Fall

Through the misty tent window
rain falls like salt from a shaker.
The silver-lined clouds
glow in the night sky,
while thunder bolts strike
at the great skyscrapers
off in the distance.
This time of year there are
no throngs of citizens at the beach
or packs of people at the pools.
But I’ll always remember
the hail thrashing to the ground
like a thousand players pitching baseballs.

Isaiah Chappell
Grade 3, Grant Elementary
Poet-Teacher: Celia Sigmon
Classroom Teacher: Allison Wilson

Third Place Poem, Lower Division

Jumping Baby

My baby sister is jumping
in a field of yellow daisies.
Mom calls us for dinner but my sister
keeps jumping and jumping.
Her silk curls bounce in all directions
and her face is red. She jumps
so high that all I can see of her
is a speck in outer space.
I call, Come back, come back!
It's time for barbequed chicken!
But she has gone to the sun
and turned into an angel.
Antonio Banet
Grade 3, Spreckels Elementary
Poet-Teacher: Seretta Martin
Classroom Teacher: Millie Weil

Fourth Place Poem, Lower Division

I Don’t Know

Could I be the sky
with its sunny days
or early morning rainy grays?
Could I be the forest green
with its gleaming leaves?
Could I be the mountains
where there are many honey bees?
Could I be the wind
with its soft and gentle breeze,
or a poinsettia flower
with its tips as red as fire?
How about a liar
who’s making this up
simply to inspire?
Could I be an I-don’t-know?
That’s a perfect way to go.

Zachary Berner
Grade 3, Grant Elementary
Poet-Teacher: Celia Sigmon
Classroom Teacher: Allison Wilson

First Place Poem, Upper Division

Dia de los Muertos 

I eat a candy skull
to remember my grandpa.
When I taste it, I remember
how he loved his dog Sasha and watching the Red Sox.

We put blue flowers
on his tombstone. I feel his happiness
when we visit him.

We make him his favorite food,
enchiladas verdes, and his favorite drink,
Sol beer, and when I sit down to eat, I feel
like he’s here with us.

He would always say
El que no arriesga no gana — no risk, no gain —
and until this day, I remember that phrase.

When I was small he would always call me
his nina traviesa, his troublemaker,
because I would get his keys, money and hat and hide them from him.
When he noticed he didn’t have them, he would turn and look at me.

Whenever this day comes, I remember
each and every one of these things
so I will never forget him.

I will always remember him as my grumpy grandpa.
He got really mad when I took his money
and went to the store and bought a bunch of candy.

But I will never forget the way he always smiled
and told me to never give up in life.

Lizbeth García-Chavez
Grade 9, Morse High School
Poet-Teacher: Jackleen Holton
Classroom Teacher: Lauren Wilensky

Second Place Poem, Upper Division

The Enchanted Ways

I am the daughter of Larry Thoi and Kerry Thoi
From a Chinese family
Mixed with a dazzle of Vietnamese

I come from vanilla color skin
Baked by the flaming sun of the raging fire

I come from warm, shining San Diego
But my blood, from the Chinese religion

I come from fried rice
Tasty noodles
And with fresh dishes
The wonder of life

I come from where the yin-yang
A symbol to us
Means the opposites of life

I come from a warm, loving family
Believing in life
A beautiful thing

I come from a family that can
Speak many languages from the Asian world

I come from unique ways of the Asian life
Because of where I’m from and who I am

Heidi Thoi
Grade 6, Hawthorne Elementary
Poet-Teacher: Veronica Cunningham
Classroom Teacher: Tricia Smith

Third Place Poem, Upper Division

Living Within

I am the daughter of the rocky mountains and green hills.
I come from the fresh night breeze, breathing the warm scents of life.
I come from a raging fire that burns in my eyes when darkness falls.
I come from the green undergrowth. Stealthily I weave through the bushes
like liquid. I do not let even a blade of grass betray my presence.
I come from a blazing sun. It stained my fur the purest gold.
I come from open valleys. They call me and I come running, bounding over
rivers and leaping to the open sky.
I come from warm summer days, basking in their beauty, soaking in their
rays of warmth.
I come from the leafy trees. I sink in my claws with relish, climbing
to the top branches.
I come from morning dew, plunging myself into the cool grass, scattering
the sparkling crystals.
I come from the wild. It lives within me, the daughter of the mountains and hills.

Lillian Robinson
Grade 6, Hawthorne Elementary
Poet-Teacher: Veronica Cunningham
Classroom Teacher: Tricia Smith

Fourth Place Poem, Upper Division

Restless Wings

Because I write to powerfully chip away
At the cold stone that is bleak despair
Because I write to forcefully smother flames of pain
Because paper is a loyal friend
Who dutifully keeps my deepest secrets hidden

I write because a pen and paper give me restless wings
Of limitless imagination
Because through writing, I can go anywhere
Escape anything
Because writing can change you like a witch's spell

I write because my paper does not judge
Because I can spill my heart out on paper
Because writing is like a cool sip of water in the hot desert
Because writing clears my conscience of
A tsunami of regretful words

I write because

Croix Black
Grade 5, Hawthorne Elementary
Poet-Teacher: Veronica Cunningham
Classroom Teacher: Tricia Smith