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Students share tributes in verse

May 5, 2020
teen girl writing in a notebook at home
Battle Ground 8th graders write “Blessing the Frontline” poems for PeaceHealth. Watch a video of caregivers reading one of the poems.

When stay-home restrictions went into effect in Washington state earlier this spring, eighth-graders from Laurin Middle School in Battle Ground had been studying a poetry unit in their English classes.

Not long after, Marilou Nellor, one of four faculty who teach English at the school, saw a request for “Blessing the Frontline” in the local newspaper and on social media.

poem with healthcare workers in superhero capesShe saw it as a great opportunity for her young students to try their hand at writing poetry while helping others in the community.

“It was really relevant to the times,” says Marilou about the assignment, which resulted in 33 poems delivered with a kind note to the caregivers at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Wash. Frontline caregivers and others at the hospital have enjoyed seeing the students’ poems on screens in lobbies and halls. poem about nurses on purple background

All of the poems are just one page each, but otherwise, they vary in size and style. Some are anagrams. Many rhyme. Some don’t. And themes range from messages of thanks and encouragement (“hold on” and “keep doing what you do”) to the bold “kicking rona to the curb” and creative “I am a Face Mask.”

poem with illustration of people in face masksIn addition, Marilou says some of the students put a lot of time and artistic effort into decorating their poems with photos, drawings or illustrations. “It was a way for them to use different talents to express themselves.”

“It’s a confusing time that has been hard on the kids,” she says. “It’s been a good way to connect with people in the outside world. The students appreciated this opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings.”

To PeaceHealth Frontline Workers:

Enclosed are poems some of our eighth-grade students wrote as a part of your Blessing the Frontline Campaign. We thank you for all you have done and are doing to keep our community safe and healthy.

Take care,

Marilou Nellor, Randy Martinez, Nicole Loran and Emily Guinn
Eighth Grade English
Laurin Middle School

Read all poems.

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