Creative students win trips for classmates

Detail from second grader Naika Jacques‘ entry.

Prompts for this year’s Writing about Place included:

Become a super hero. Imagine a natural disaster or, okay, a Zombie apocalypse. You have super powers and can save one Hudson Valley place.

Pick an object. Think about a Hudson Valley place you love — or one you would like to visit. What catches your eye?

Students imagined being sculptures, super heroes, statues, and more.

Our readers — teachers and environmental educators plus representatives of Marist’s Hudson River Valley Institute, NYS DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Program, Putnam History Museum,  Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, and Environmental Cooperative at Vassar Barns — loved the results!

Throughout the winter and spring we’ll share students’ poems and essays right here; subscribe to THV blog, top right so you don’t miss a single piece. In the meantime, we want to introduce the top-scoring authors whose classes will receive trips to the places they wrote about.


In Stone Faced, Alice Rosi-Marshall imagines herself as a statue in the gardens at Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site. “Since I was eight years old, I have found refuge in the Vanderbilt Gardens,” she wrote. “…. [what] fascinated me most…was the statue of the woman forever dancing underneath her brick archway.”

Alice is in grade 10 at Millbrook High School. English teacher Maureen Ackerman submitted the poem along with work by other students.

Redwan Arosh, a freshman at Newburgh Free Academy, conjured the life of a tree in an essay titled The Beauty of Bear Mountain. Redwan explores how a tree might look and feel in each season, describes the ebb and flow of visitors, and contemplates a tree’s role as “a home for birds and squirrels” and a source of oxygen for humans. (Read about Bear Mountain State Park.)

English teacher Virginia McCurdy submitted Redwan’s work as well as essays by other students in the Newburgh Enlarged City Schools.

Photo: Cassie Sklarz, NECSD


Second graders eager to visit  Bear Mountain’s Trailside Museums and Zoo won the elementary school trip with drawings (see above) and research on animals they expect to encounter there. Yessenia Lucas-Cordon, for example, described a bald eagle’s “pointy yellow beak,” while Zitlaly Meneses Martinez speculated on how porcupines use their “sharp claws.” Sucheta Baichwal and Lily Cheung teach English as a New Language at Overlook Primary School (Arlington Central Schools) and involved their students in Writing about Place.

No middle school award was made this year. Public, private, and home-schooled students throughout the 11-county Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area are eligible to participate in Writing about Place.

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