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Poets in motion: Students from Chester dominate SWIC contest

  • Chester High School took two top prizes in the 2022 SWIC Poetry Contest. Shown here (left to right) are teacher Rana Hodge; sophomore Jessica Ixcoy-Sica, third place winner; junior Julia Nicole Venus, second place winner; and teacher Mike Springston.  At right,  Chester Grade School fifth grader Arabella Mallender, shown here with teacher Tammy Liefer, placed second in the poetry contest.

    Chester High School took two top prizes in the 2022 SWIC Poetry Contest. Shown here (left to right) are teacher Rana Hodge; sophomore Jessica Ixcoy-Sica, third place winner; junior Julia Nicole Venus, second place winner; and teacher Mike Springston. At right, Chester Grade School fifth grader Arabella Mallender, shown here with teacher Tammy Liefer, placed second in the poetry contest.
    Jim Beers Photo

  • Chester Grade School fifth grader Arabella Mallender, shown here with teacher Tammy Liefer, placed second in the 2022 SWIC Poetry Contest.

    Chester Grade School fifth grader Arabella Mallender, shown here with teacher Tammy Liefer, placed second in the 2022 SWIC Poetry Contest.
    Courtesy of Chester Grade School

 
BY JIM BEERS
Contributing Writer
updated: 6/7/2022 3:06 PM

A love of poetry is alive and well in Chester. The evidence? Students from St. Mary's School, Chester Grade School and Chester High School won 11 of 18 student prizes in the 2022 Southwestern Illinois College Poetry Contest.

The annual event is an excellent opportunity for budding poets of all ages to try their hands at writing and be judged for their work. Prizes are awarded in fourth grade through high school divisions, with adults in a separate class.

CGS fifth grade teacher Tammy Liefer says she always encourages students to enter the SWIC Poetry Contest. "The judges are very knowledgeable and spend a lot of time studying the entries before they choose the winners," Liefer said.

This year Liefer's student Arabella Mallender placed second in the fifth grade division with "A Monster in the Attic." "I am very proud of Arabella and her poem," Liefer said

Seven of Chester's 11 winners represent St. Mary's Catholic School, whose sixth graders swept their division. In first place was Marlie Caby with "Blankets," followed by classmates Rusty Korando in second with "Countryside Freedom" and Gage Lynn in third with "Duck Hunting."

Other winners from St. Mary's include fifth grader Cole McDonald, who placed first with "The Rainforest." Judges said, "Cole is able to paint a picture of his words. He uses rhyme in an interesting way."

St. Mary's seventh grader Logan McDonald took first place with "Stars." Eighth grader Jonathan Hayer won with "The Forest Floor," which tells the story of a squirrel at play and a rabbit avoiding a bobcat.

Two Chester High School students won awards in the high school division. Junior Julia Nicole Venus placed second and sophomore Jessica Ixcoy-Sica took third.

Venus enjoys painting, drawing, hiking, reading and writing, and her favorite poet is Emily Dickinson. Her second place poem "Already Dead" is the story of a woman who has been dealt a bitter blow in life and has learned how to deal with those blows by hardening herself until she feels no more and waits for death.

Ixcoy-Sica's favorite poet is Dr. Seuss and her favorite poem is "The Hill We Climb" by Amanda Gorman, which was read at the 2021 presidential inauguration. Ixcoy-Sica enjoys playing in the CHS band, reading and writing.

"I want to recognize and thank my former English teacher Sara Hammel who encouraged me and helped me with my early poetry writing," Ixcoy-Sica said. Her poem "Paper" examines the way paper has been used over the years and how it is used today.

At CHS Rana Hodge says she and the other English teachers don't require students to enter the contest.

"This was a voluntary exercise. In fact, CHS had only four total students enter the contest. This is a pretty incredible ratio considering we had two winners from CHS," Hodge said.

"What amazes me is the ability of these young people to write such mature, heartfelt verse. We have some very talented writers and we at CHS are very proud."

Results

4th Grade Division1. Lewandowski, Columbia; 2. Joey Stuart, Columbia; 3. Sami Valleroy, Columbia

5th Grade Division1. Cole McDonald, St. Mary's Chester; 2. Arabella Mallender, Chester Grade School; 3. Reed Petrowske, St. Mary's Chester

6th Grade Division1. Marlie Caby, St. Mary's Chester; 2. Rusty Korando, St. Mary's Chester; 3. Gage Lynn, St. Mary's Chester

7th Grade Division1. Logan McDonald, St. Mary's Chester; 2. Hailey Yankey, St. Mary's Chester; 3. Zac Lauer, Red Bud

8th Grade Division1. Jonathan Hayer, St. Mary's Chester; 2. Gabby Vause, Red Bud; 3. Addison Tarr, Columbia

High School Division1. Kaitlyn Chung, Sparta; 2. Julia Nicole Venus, Chester; 3. Jessica Ixcoy-Sica, Chester

Adult Division1. Kathryn Klepacz Clancy, Troy; 2. Belinda Burnworth, Belleville; 3. Yvonne Meckfessel, Troy

Here's one of the award-winning poems from Chester:

'A Monster in the Attic'

By Arabella Mallender

There is a monster in the attic

A monster indeed

I'd go find it myself but

There are a few things I need

My jacket

My hat

A flashlight

And a bat

There is a monster in the attic

A monster in fact

I'd go find it myself but

I think I might go back

SCRITCH

SCRATCH


SCRITCH

SCRATCH

THAT'S IT!

There is a monster in the attic

A monster indeed

I'm going to find it myself and

Maybe it will let me sleep

CLICK!


I think I found the monster

The monster in the attic

At first I was afraid but

I need to tell dad it

Was just

A cold

Wet

And scared

RACCOON!