A Bergen County Eighth Grader's Poem Won a National Gold Medal

A Bergen County Eighth Grader's Poem Won a National Gold Medal

Her poem “Thank You Mrs…” is dedicated to a former teacher.

Each year, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards invites students in grades seven through 12 to submit art and writing work in 29 different categories for a chance to be selected as regional and national winners. Out of 350,000 annual student participants nationwide, less than 3,000 are selected as National Medalists for individual works or portfolios. Esmé Talenfeld, an eighth grader at Elisabeth Morrow School in Englewood, NJ, won a Gold Medal this year. Her poem Thank You Mrs… was inspired by a former teacher’s willingness to share stories from her own childhood that created a culture of inclusivity in the classroom. Talenfeld wrote the poem in the "Write On!" elective class at Elisabeth Morrow.

Talenfeld spun the poem from an “I Am” writing exercise, where she was supposed to write about herself using a series of statements beginning with “I Am.” However, she took the piece in a different direction by writing about a beloved former teacher, which earned her the gold. She and other national medal winners will be honored in a ceremony at Carnegie Hall in June. Recent ceremony keynote speakers include Tim Gunn, Alec Baldwin, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Meryl Streep.

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Several other Elisabeth Morrow students received regional honors for their work. Eighth graders Dream Champell-Aldrich and Phoebe Han received regional gold awards for their photography and were honored in a ceremony and reception at the Montclair Art Museum on February 28. Other students, such as Jaeyun (Emily) Kang and Keren Mandelzis, won for multiple pieces.

“Elisabeth Morrow School is incredibly proud of all of our students’ remarkable achievements honoring their prowess for using their skills,” said Judith Fox, Elisabeth Morrow Interim Head of School. “We look forward to many more great works from all of our talented students who participated in this year’s competition.”