The Home School Court Report
No. 4

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2006 Poetry Contest Winners

Click here to see the 2006 poetry contest winners.

On May 23, 2006, Home School Legal Defense Association announced the winners of its second annual poetry contest. Rebekah Lee Waldorff won first place in CATEGORY 1 (AGES 9-13) with “Light”; second and third place were awarded to Haley Welch and Laura Russell. Kelly Rose Tillson’s “The Alchemist” took first place in CATEGORY 2 (AGES 14-18), with Rebekah Curry and RoseMary Johnson placing second and third. A total of 249 talented young writers submitted poems in both categories. Ten prizes ranging from $25 to $200 were awarded.

In Category 1, entrants were required to write a terza rima1 on light. “After thinking about the topic, I decided I’d write about natural light—the sun and moon—how the light comes full circle,” says Rebekah Lee Waldorff. The homeschooled 13-year-old wrote her winning poem as a school assignment, and she drafted several attempts before her mother—an exacting judge—agreed that the poem was ready to be submitted. “Writing poetry is difficult,” says Rebekah, “but there’s a sense of enjoyment when you get it done.”

Entrants in Category 2 produced sonnets2 on the theme of change. “‘The Alchemist’ particularly stood out to me when I first read it,“ said Jonathan Kanary, one of the contest judges. “It expressed something I could understand and sympathize with.” Kelly Rose Tillson’s sonnet addressed change through the voice of a medieval scientist trying to turn lead into gold. Kelly, who has been homeschooled since kindergarten, lives with her parents and four siblings in Iraq, where her family works in a school for Kurdish children. The 18-year-old is no stranger to HSLDA’s poetry contest—last year, she placed third in Category 2. Her advice to other young writers? “Don't give up.” Developing, crafting, and polishing this year’s poem took several weeks. “I started by thinking of what would be in an alchemist’s workshop,” says Kelly. “After working on it for a while, I realized that what was important was the alchemist himself.”

The judges were impressed with the variety of subjects addressed in the sonnets. “So many poems, not just the winning selections, demonstrated a personal understanding of how God uses change in our lives to point our hearts and our minds toward him,” said Abigail Hackman.

The four judges evaluated each entry in the two categories for adherence to form and a fresh, creative approach to the assigned theme. “I was surprised by the beauty and uniqueness of the imagery in the poetry,” comments Sarah Wilson. “Even in those instances where the meter or grammar was not perfect, the power of the poetry overcame the imperfections.”

Young poets gearing up for next year’s contest can start now. “Practice using the form until you become used to it and learn how to make it work for you,” advises Kanary. “Try to come up with an unexpected angle on the subject.” Information about the 2007 contest will be available on HSLDA’s website in fall 2006.


1 Terza rima consists of three-line stanzas following the rhyme scheme aba, bcb, cdc, ded, etc.

2 A sonnet is 14 lines in iambic pentameter following a slightly varied rhyme scheme.