‘Stressed Out’ Young Poets Earn ‘Jackpot’ of Praise

Good Shepherd’s top winners: ‘Beaches or Mountains,’ ‘Walls and Climbers’

Beaches or mountains? 

The young poet opened with a question — exploring in her verses such themes as forbidden love, opposite attraction, and gender contrasts.

The mountains are the strings, tugging the beach toward them

Long lost lovers, destined for a life of tranquility

With those words, and many others, Elizabeth Groen claimed her place as the 2024 Eighth Grade Poetry Slam champion at Good Shepherd Episcopal School.

The third annual Poetry Slam tasked students — partnered or working alone — with writing and performing poems on topics of their choosing. Whether using rhyme or free verse, they needed to include at least three different literary devices — such as simile, metaphor, and alliteration, etc. — and take 90 to 180 seconds to recite.

Elizabeth Groen. Courtesy John Holt.

In the final round, the four winners from each of Elizabeth Schmitt’s English classes performed in front of eight judges: Chris Lawrence (WFAA, news anchor), Chris Morris (Dave & Buster’s, CEO), Sabina Carr (Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, CEO and president), Keith Conlon (Allie Beth Allman & Associates, president), Nia-Tayler Clark (Blacklit, founder and CEO), Talia Richman The Dallas Morning News, Education Lab reporter), Jeamy Molina (Dallas Area Rapid Transit chief communications officer), and Malcolm Farmer (Texas Legends, president and general manager).

 Runner-up went to Cici Walters for “Walls and Climbers.” Here’s an excerpt:

I could’ve been there for you, could’ve helped you climb this seemingly impossible wall – but you never told me that obstacle was even there in your world. 

Walker Roberts, Deven Cagle, and Rex Nelson performed together and claimed third place with “Jackpot.” Here’s an excerpt:

I try to quit, I cannot resist. This life of gambling my money

It’s breaking me apart

Fourth place went to Luke Fogel and Field Collins for “Stressed Out.” Here’s an excerpt:

Next I go to high school, people just want to see.

An athletic A+, perfect little boy, but I just want to be – Me. 

Their teacher was pleased with them all.

“The poise of the poets and the effort they all put into their performances was outstanding,” Schmitt said. “They gave it their all, and it showed. I am ecstatic with the judges’ feedback and with our students.”

But let’s give this year’s champion of the final words:

Beaches and mountains, the golden retriever and the black cat, the talker and the listener, the light and the shadows, both great, always complimenting each other, a match made in heaven. 

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William Taylor

William Taylor, editor of Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People, shares a name and a birthday with his dad and a love for community journalism with his colleagues at People Newspapers. He joined the staff in 2016 after more than 25 years working for daily newspapers in such places as Alexandria, Louisiana; Baton Rouge; McKinney; San Angelo; and Sherman, though not in anywhere near that order. A city manager once told him that “city government is the best government” because of its potential to improve the lives of its residents. William still enjoys covering municipal government and many other topics. Follow him on Twitter @Seminarydropout. He apologizes in advance to the Joneses for any angry Tweets that might slip out about the Dallas Cowboys during the NFL season. You also can reach him at william.taylor@peoplenewspapers.com. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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