Students' poems to be published

By  Leila Wong-Ko-Nang, Youth Speak News
  • June 13, 2008

{mosimage}WHITBY, Ont. - Two Grade 9 Catholic students from All Saints Secondary School in Whitby made their mark in a national poetry competition and will have their poems included in an anthology published by the National Library of Canada. Stephanie Irani, 14, and Daynia Price, 15, will see their work published in Voyages by Night.

“I offered the students an option in which they could either submit a poem of their choice which they’ve previously written or they could write poetry about candy in class,” said Grade 9 teacher Stephanie Mandziuk. “I decided to hold a poetry contest of my own in which I submitted the winning poems to this national contest.”

The national contest was open to secondary schools across the country this past fall. Mandziuk said it was interesting that out of thousands of entries, two of the winners came from the same school.

“We give great praise for the arts and extracurricular activities like sports, but we don’t do enough on the academic side,” she said. “It’s really great to see students recognized for academic achievements and this sets an example for other students.

“Anything that students do that is recognized beyond the classroom helps self-esteem,” Mandziuk said. “It shows that they are capable of doing more than the stereotypes of society and its expectations. There are so many opportunities out there and we, as teachers, must push students to reach them.”

In her poem “Roses are Love,” Irani articulates a common issue and challenge that teens are plagued with today.

“My poem compares love to a rose. It’s basically about how when you fall in love, do not get your hopes up because you will get hurt. And if you fall, have faith and you’ll rise up again,” she said.

When asked what she would like to communicate to the Catholic community, Irani said students should always believe in their work and in themselves.

“Never second guess yourself and let people bring you down. Just go for it,” she said. “I was never into poetry before and didn’t really even like poetry, but this experience made me write it and now I’m being published.”

In her poem “The Marshmallow Burger,” Price exercised her poetic skills by describing candy according to the experience of the human senses.

“All young people have skills. Don’t let opportunities pass you by,” Price said is the message she would like to share.

Irani and Price were both invited to read their poems before the Durham Catholic District School Board. Mandziuk has also submitted both poems to the Canadian Schools Poetry Contest, sponsored by the Poetry Institute of Canada, Young Writers.

(Wong-Ko-Nang, 22, is studying for her Masters of Theology at the University of Toronto.)

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