2002-06-22 / Community

Winners of PAL’s Poetry Contest

Winners of PAL's Poetry Contest

To complete, to race

To feel the wind in your face.

To sprint, to soar

To run more and more

To be bright and bold

To achieve the gold.

-Jaclyn Spezzano, age 11

Jaclyn, from Middle Village in Queens, is one of over 200 youngsters around New York City recently honored at the Police Athletic League's Annual Illustrated Poetry Contest held at The Masonic Hall in Manhattan. Jaclyn's poem and artwork, "N.Y.C. Marathon," won first place in her age bracket.

With a flair for descriptive words and rhyme, Jaclyn described her perception of the strenuous, but ultimately satisfying New York City event. "I enjoyed entering the Illustrated Poetry Contest. I love drawing and my grandmother inspired and encouraged me to write," Jaclyn said.

The exhibition was a wonderful occasion for young people, ages six to eighteen, to celebrate their creative achievements with parents and friends from all five boroughs. Awards were presented for their poetry and matching artwork, and the works of the top twelve winners will appear in PAL's Calendar next year.

This year's theme, "Youth Salutes the Strength and History of New York City" invited young people to examine the multifaceted cultures, traditions, and events throughout the city's history. Students discovered and explored New York City's unique qualities, as well as the strength of the people who reside in the city.

A fellow Middle Villager, 11-year old Hillary Ramos, wrote a reflective poem entitled "Gone." Her poem reads, "Every night I go to sleep thinking of those discouraged and sad because of the terror that came to us on that horrible day." Ramos drew an image of a crying eagle to accompany her poem in a symbolic gesture commemorating the tragedy of September 11.

"This year everyone really put their hearts into this contest," said Kitty Kirby, Director of the Performing Arts Program at the Police Athletic League. "These young people are our future and that is illustrated through their positive poetry and artwork."

This year's contest also recognized the accomplishments of several top winners with prestigious awards and scholarships presented by the Josephine Lawrence Hopkins Foundation and Arts Student's League. Thousands of entries were submitted for PAL's Illustrated Poetry Contest and reviewed by a panel of distinguished judges. The young artists used chalk, pencils, crayons, brushes, computers and cameras to express their artistic vision. Poems ranged from free verse, limerick, narrative, and Haiku to nonsense and ballad.

The Police Athletic League is New York City's largest independent, nonprofit youth organization serving 70,000 youngsters annually with recreational, educational, cultural and social programs. PAL is the official youth agency of the New York City Police Department. Founded in 1914, PAL programs establish rapport between police officers and city youth. PAL has sponsored the Illustrated Poetry Contest since 1967.

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