students posing with family

Poems written by Jace Rodriguez, “My Happy Place” (3rd grade, Savin Rock School), Dana Guadarruma, “Northern Lights” (4th grade, Savin Rock School), and Bruna Reppetto Tobias, “Renewed by the Moonlight” (8th grade, Bailey Middle School) were chosen from more than 400 entries for the top prize in the Land Trust of West Haven’s poetry contest. The students read their poems at an award ceremony that took place on Friday, April 28, at the Land Trust’s Poetry Post on the Savin Rock Boardwalk. 

April is National Poetry Month and Earth Day was on April 22. To celebrate both events, the Land Trust sponsored the nature-themed poetry contest. “The Land Trust is always looking for ways to support children’s education about the environment in fun and creative ways,” said Marilyn Wilkes, Vice President of the Land Trust and event co-coordinator. “It’s important to foster a love of nature in children. Poetry is a way for them to explore the beauty they see outside and communicate it to the world.” 

According to Colette Bennett, the Board of Education’s language arts coordinator and event co-coordinator, students have been learning about poetry in their classrooms for the past several weeks. In grades 3 and 4 in each elementary school, students are studying the haiku and the tanka, both Japanese poetic forms.

In grade 8 at Bailey Middle School, students are studying famous poems on the topic of nature. In order to appreciate how the theme of nature is developed, they identify patterns of language, structure, and punctuation. 

A three-judge panel determined the winning poems: Tony Fusco, who was named Poet Laureate for the City of West Haven in April of 2019 and Co-President of the Connecticut Poetry Society; Renny Loisel, President of the West Haven Land Trust; and Colette Bennett. Each winner received a $50 gift card and a native plant, which represents the Land Trust’s Native Plant Initiative, and ties in nicely to the contest’s theme of nature and Earth Day. 

The Land Trust of West Haven, Inc. is a non-profit organization formed to promote the protection and preservation of natural resources and open space properties of public significance in West Haven, CT, including coastal resources, with particular emphasis on the shoreline of the Long Island Sound in the general area of Savin Rock as well as its land, water, wetlands, plant, and animal life. 

The following students are the Poetry Contest Runner-Up Winners by School:

Grade 3:

  • Haley - Sydney O'Brien; "COBRAS"
  • Washington - Demetri Foster; "WITH THEIR NOISY CALLS"
  • Pagels - Phoenix Morehead; "UNDER A BIG TREE"
  • Forest - Sebastian Heath; "EARTH AND THE PROBLEM WITH PLASTIC"
  • Mackrille - Lilyana Ayuso; "OCEAN WAVES"

Grade 4:

  • Mackrille - Tomi Yakinni; "NATURE HERE AND EVERYWHERE"
  • Forest - Emmanuel Edhere; "ANGRY THUNDERSTORM" 
  • Haley - Skinah O. Gbadamosi; "BEAUTIFUL MOUNTAIN"
  • Pagels - Nalia Nevin; "TWINKLING LIGHTS"
  • Washington - Ailanee Cora; "TSUNAMIS"

Grade 8:

  • Bailey - Angelique Mercer; "AT THE BEACH IS WHERE I STAY"