HAMPTON, NH — On Thursday, April 14, families, teachers and members of the Hampton Historical Society gathered at Tuck History Museum to watch eighth-graders from Hampton Academy present poems that they wrote as announced by Superintendent Dr. Lois Costa and Interim Principal Kennith Hawkins.
Students were selected to participate in the event by their English teachers, and worked with retired Hampton Academy teacher and president of the historical society, Lori Cotter, to write their pieces. Students also worked with Karen Raynes, Hampton poet and part-owner of Marelli’s Market.
Students researched a New Hampshire historical topic of interest and used this research to develop a writing piece in poetical form to portray pictures through words, and encourage each other with helpful critique.
The five students who participated in the event were:
• Elizabeth Marshall presented “Haunted Streets,” which considered the witchcraft accusations of the late 1600s.
• Grace Bramhall presented “The Purple Heart,” which told the story of Rita Palmer, the Hampton native that received a Purple Heart award after being imprisoned in the Philippines for three and a half years during World War II.
• Lucy Gelbstein presented “The Lady and the Sea,” which is about the memorial statue at Hampton Beach dedicated to New Hampshire residents lost or buried at sea during World War II.
• James Grugnale presented “The Tornado at Hampton Beach,” which depicts the 1898 tornado that ravaged Hampton Beach, destroyed buildings along the shore and injured dozens.
• Aaron Zou presented “Murder at Smuttynose,” the mysterious story of a young family up against unnatural odds of crime and thievery in the late 1800s.
“This event required our students to be passionate, articulate, and confident and they all did a terrific job,” Principal Hawkins said. “I am very proud of all the participants and I commend our English Department, and Lori and Karen, for putting this wonderful event together.”
Some students created a rhyme scheme like in traditional poetry, and developed meter by counting syllables in each line, while others used free verse to tell their story.
“The students did an incredible job researching and then presenting their poems. They worked so hard to find the perfect adjectives and descriptive words to portray the feeling and pictures associated with these historical events,” Cotter said. “It takes courage to perform in front of their peers, their family and strangers, and I applaud them for being able to do so.”
National Poetry Month is celebrated every April to show the impact that poetry has had on culture over the years. It is the largest literary celebration in the world, with millions of K-12 students and teachers participating in poetry activities throughout the month.