Dartmouth Middle students show off their poetry skills

Apr 13, 2017

Allyson Oliveira considers herself an artist dabbling in drawing, but never thought too much about poetry. That didn’t stop the Dartmouth Middle School eighth grader from taking the top prize in her grade in a poetry competition on April 12.

Hosted at the middle school’s Literacy Night, her poem, called “Field of Dreams,” focused on a field that can either be positive, or negative, depending on who’s walking through it.

“It was just something I quickly wrote,” Oliveira said. “It’s about different sides of people and what they see.”

Each student read their poems aloud before the winners were announced. The competition included entries from 30 students from the sixth, seventh and eighth grades, with varying formats and themes, from video games and hobbies to the troubles and stressors of middle school life.

“There’s no real specific direction. We wanted to encourage variety,” said literacy coach Dan Lefebvre.

Although Literacy Night started out as a celebration of literature of all forms, in recent years its main focus has shifted to poetry. The middle school’s literature curriculum shifts to poetry to mark National Poetry Month, which runs through the month of April.

This year, the program attracted more attention than usual, especially among the seventh grade class. They read The Life and Times of Benny Alvarez in class to mark the halfway point of the school year, but many students remembered the poetry competition in the book the most.

“I’ve never seen the kids so responsive to poetry like they did this year, and it’s all because of that book,” Lefebvre said.

Before the poetry reading, Amy Manny, a tenth grader at Dartmouth High School and former student of Lefebvre, performed two original songs she wrote while a student: Know that it’s Okay and Be Like Them.