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Students earn accolades for creative writing

KDL, Ford Foundation contests recognize poems and essays

Grand Rapids — One day while sitting in history class, Kraft Meadows Middle School eighth-grader Sam Temple was having a tough day, so he wrote about it. 

Sam transformed those tough feelings into poetry, and then remembered the writing contest his English teacher encouraged him to enter. 

Sam Temple’s poem “I Wish I Was a Boy” became a finalist in the Kent District Library’s Write Michigan Teen Poetry Contest, an annual competition that accepts poetry written by students in grades 6-12 living in Kent County. Sam was one of 11 winners in the written competition, each of whom won a $50 Meijer gift card. 

“I was just having a rough day, so I wrote a poem,” Sam said. “I thought it was good-ish but I never thought it would win anything after I entered the contest.”

After a friend introduced him to poet Amanda Lovelace, Sam began reading and writing more poetry and really enjoyed reading Sylvia Plath. 

“Poems invoke emotion and that’s what I like about it,” Sam said. “I’ve always liked artsy writing styles, and music and poetry is like song lyrics. Writing poems is also a good way to express myself and an easier way to convey emotions.”

2021 Write Michigan Written Poetry Contest winners from Kent ISD schools
• Samantha Gross, Wyoming Junior High
• Vivian Schmidt, Northview High School 
• Sam Temple, Kraft Meadows Middle School
• Jesus Garcia, Grand Rapids Public Museum High School
• Samantha Zimmer, Grandville High School
• Jia Niemeyer, Forest Hills High School

And in Another Contest … 

The President Gerald R. Ford Student Writing Challenge presented another opportunity for students to express their thoughts and share their stories through writing. 

This year’s theme was “resilience.” Out of over 1,500 entries, a blind judging process involving 20 judges selected the finalists.  

Finalists from Kent ISD included Andrew Karafa, from Forest Hills Eastern High School, and Priyanka Malaker, from City High Middle School.

Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss; Michael Ford, the eldest son of former President Gerald R. and Betty Ford; Shelley Irwin, The WGVU Morning Show host; and public affairs professional Samuel “Buzz” Thomas III served as judges for the final round. For the complete list of this year’s student winners, visit the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation website. Click here to watch the virtual awards ceremony with guest speaker John Agar.

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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