The poetry of St. Rita School students will be published as part of the Young Writers annual publication “Through Their Eyes” in January of 2021. Some of the young writers include, from left, Ryan Winterich, Isis Freeman, Jasira Stidham, Ava Franz, Jake Williams, Max Loeser, Andrew Hutter and Journee Cobb. Language arts teachers Cathy Edmonds and Laura Yax, in back, lead the class.

For a group of young writers at St. Rita School in Solon, their first attempt at poetry has earned them high honors.

With topics like peer pressure, global warming, history, politics and more, 58 junior high students put pen to paper and crafted their first poem, all of which have been selected among over 5,000 entries to be published in the Young Writers annual publication “Through Their Eyes,” in January of 2021.

“I don’t consider myself a poet,” seventh-grader Ava Franz, 13, of Twinsburg, said, “but it’s something I enjoy reading.”

She is especially excited to be published for the first time, she said, and to see the work of other young poets like herself.

A sports fan, 12-year-old Max Loeser, a seventh-grader from Twinsburg, wrote “A Ball’s Purpose,” mainly about sports, he said.

“The hardest part was picking your topic because there was a lot to choose from,” he said.

The students were given a maximum of 10 lines to create their poem and discussed in a group the topics they were given to choose from, language arts teachers Laura Yax and Cathy Edmonds explained.

They got ideas, talked to each other and did some pre-writing in class,” she said. “It was a process.”

Ms. Yax said the students had to focus on figurative language when crafting their poem.

“To me it came easy,” 13-year-old Jake Williams, an eighth-grader from Twinsburg, said. That is because they learned a great deal about writing a poem prior to getting started, such as different rhyme schemes. His poem, “Press of Dreams,” delved into the invention of the printing press.

Seventh-grader Isis Freeman, 12, of Bedford Heights, said she prefers writing fiction over poetry, even through her selection “Alive,” was chosen for publication.

“I don’t know how to fit emotions and feelings into a smaller poem,” she said. Her work was about how people are destroying the earth, ending with such positive points about recycling more and composting.

Eighth-grader Jasper Stidham, 14, from Bedford Heights, used her own personal experience with peer pressure to craft her poem “Love/Hate.” She hoped to educate others through her work, she said.

Journee Cobb, 13, an eighth-grader from Solon, chose the topic of social media and how it is addictive for her poem titled “Wonderland.”

“I found it kind of difficult to write in general and to keep it flowing instead of going on to another topic,” she said. Poetry is not her style of writing, she said, and often found it difficult to keep it sounding smooth.

Andrew Hutter, 13, an eighth-grader from Twinsburg, explored the topic of pollution in “A Jelly Fish or Not.”

“Once we found a topic, it was easier to write about,” he said. “It was a good group work activity to bounce ideas off of one another.”

This is the first time St. Rita entered the contest through Young Writers USA.

“We have some exceptional writers in here,” Ms. Edmonds said.

For the last decade, Sue Reid has covered the government, business climate and residents of Solon. A Times reporter for 22 years, Ms. Reid has earned commendations from the Ohio Newspaper Association and Cleveland Press Association.

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