SB 29 kids get good marks on peace poems

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Ople, a 9-1/2-year-old fourth-grade student at PS 95 from Hollis was one of the 28 students who were given awards for their poems at School Board 29's monthly meeting at PS 134 at 109th Avenue and 203rd Street in Hollis.

The 28 students, one from each of the district's schools, were chosen for writing the most moving poem within their respective schools in response to the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Centers. The poems were compiled in a book titled "Writing for Peace 2001."

"It made me feel sad that people had to die because of the rotten thing that people did," Ople said about the attack. "My mom felt proud and I felt happy about winning. When I read it, my mom squeezed me and I was so proud."

Her mother Adele, a pediatric nurse at Elmhurst Hospital who also writes poetry, said she was extremely proud of her daughter because she was the first one in the family to have a poem published. She said the attack is a sensitive issue for the adults and the children of School District 29 are teaching everyone about peace.

The 28 winners, including children who were Indian, West Indian, black Asian and Pakistani, represented a cross-section of the multi-racial district, which stretches from Bellerose to Fresh Meadows and from Queens Village to Jamaica.

The district's 27,000 students wrote poems as part of a homework assignment, with the best in each school chosen for the district's book.

District Administrator Michael Johnson said all of the students work was "extremely mature, sensitive and insightful." He said the poem assignment was just one of the many different tasks the district has planned in response to the Trade Center attack.

"There will be speak-outs, writing assignments and art assignments to allow the children to express themselves in a creative way," Johnson said. "It gives them a vehicle to channel their feelings in a positive way."

School Board President Nathaniel Washington said the poems were stirring and powerful. He said all the students did some really good work.

"The teacher made it a homework assignment so I wrote it," said Christopher Paul, 9, a fourth-grade student at PS 195 in Rosedale.

"I feel kind of happy," he said about being one of the 28 students chosen.

His mother Verna said she was excited and surprised that her son's poem was chosen as the best in his school. She said he writes little things all the time, and now she will have to pay more attention to what he writes.

"I cried when I read it," Johnson said. "It was so beautiful and the children are so sensitive. The poems touch you when you read this."

The 26 other winners were: Ryan Oku of PS 15, Sangeeta Singh of PS 33, Chantelle Atsyor of PS 34, Muhammad Zahid of PS 35, Tiffany Blake of PS 36, Imani Dunocomd of PS 37, Ashley Cooper Kinsler of PS 38, Janice Pierrot of PS 52, Tamika Grant of PS 116, Kevin Thompson of PS 118, Spencer Wen of PS 131, Sheila Flowers of PS 132, Pia Fergus of PS 134, Gaitrie Sackichand of PS 135, Dominique Holmes of PS 136, Michael Singh of PS 138, Michael Brown of PS 147, Natasha Samson of PS 156, Lauren Brangman of PS 176, Jasmine Grant of PS 181, Ryan Coleman of PS 251, Chidinma Offomah of IS 59, Stephanie Summers of IS 109, Felicia Kennedy of IS 192, Tiyanna McFarlane of PS 231 and Randy Ramdin of IS 238.

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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