Harvey Upper and Middle School students began selecting poems in January, memorizing each line in preparation for the annual poetry contest. In February, what seemed like a never-ending barrage of snowstorms proved to be a worthy adversary and delayed the contest several times, but in Ms.Visintainer’s words, the persistent weather “tried to freeze our poetry contest, but we persevered.”
So on April 5, the 2018 annual Michael Lopes Poetry Recitation Contest, and its 15 remarkable finalists finally took the stage in Lasdon Theater in Harvey’s Walker Center for the Arts. Our hosts, Ms. Mahony and Ms. Visintainer started off the morning by reading a poem, and were joined by students seated throughout the audience, rising to read verse after verse. The legacy of poetry on Harvey’s campus dates back to the 1960s within The Rambler newspaper, and to 1977 when a group of students gathered for the first time to read poems.
“I am proud, and every year a little bit amazed, to know I’m at a school where a poetry contest is celebrated, and maybe a little cool,” said Ms. Visintainer. She shared the words of poet Seamus Heaney (1939–2013) who argues "that poetry has power; poems stir us into our own humanity." She read some lines from Maya Angelou’s (1928-2014) poem “A Conceit” and then opened the contest by saying, “This morning I invite you in Dr. Angelou’s words, to make room, to give your hands to each other, and to these finalists, as we celebrate the 2017-18 Michael Lopes Poetry Contest.”
Six Middle School students and nine Upper School students stood before the entire Harvey community, pouring their hearts and emotions into reciting poems with a wide range of meaning and genres. Junior Giselle Garcia was chosen as the Upper School winner for her recitation of “Latino-Americanos: The Children of Oscuro Pasado” by Xochitl Morales, while seventh-grader Marley Shyer took top honors in the Middle School for the poem “Dear Society” whose author is anonymous. Ninth-grader Mia Cornell received Honorable Mention recognition for her reading of “Happy” by Dottie James.
Many thanks to our esteemed panel of judges, Rev. Merle McJunkin, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Bedford Hills, Ms. Julie Nord, poet, editor, and classical singer, and Mr. Scott Mason, author and editor.
Congratulations to our other Middle School finalists, sixth-graders Princess Golden and Annissa Khanna, seventh-grader Noam Cohen-Weinberg, and eighth-graders Cody Siegel and Wendy Lichtenberg; and our Upper School finalists, freshman Sophia Rae Epstein, sophomores Pierson Husted and Ally Walsh, juniors Frank Fan and Reynise Walker, and seniors Sydney Penn and Sarah McLean.
“Parting is such sweet sorrow…” until next year!