Contest Celebrates Constitution, Women’s Suffrage

BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz announced a poetry contest this week for borough students that commemorates both the 230th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution and the 100th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage in New York State.

Beginning this week, fourth, seventh and 11th grade public school students will begin composing poems for Katz’s Only In Queens Poetry Contest— for which this year’s them is,“What Does Freedom Mean to Me?”

Katz said that the purpose of the contest is to both inspire and engage Queens students in a discussion on freedom, civil rights, diversity and civic participation—not only in school, but also at home.

“Queens is forever proud to be the birthplace of religious freedom and home of the Flushing Remonstrance, the precursor to the Bill of Rights,” Katz said. “We are pleased to commemorate the anniversaries of two important hallmarks of our nation’s history through an educational poetry contest in Queens schools. We encourage students to express [their] personal voice about freedom, civil rights and diversity through the art of poetry and prose.”

The poems, which will be a homework assignment for the students, are due April 19. After they are submitted, principals will announce the winners at their schools and send the top poet to the semi-final round. Semi-finalists will then be selected by a panel of educators from Queens North, Queens South and Affinity Support Centers in Queens. A panel chosen by Queens Poet Laureate Maria Lisella will select contest finalists. At the end of May, finalists will be announced and invited to an award ceremony at Queens Borough Hall.

“We are so lucky to live in Queens, New York, America where the world lives,” Lisella said. “Look, listen, read and write what you hear and observe—at its most powerful, poetry celebrates daily life, which makes it essential to understanding one another.”

The contest is in collaboration with the John Bowne House, Lewis H. Latimer House Museum, Queens Historical Society, King Manor Museum, Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center & Archives, Louis Armstrong House Museum and Isamu Noguchi Museum.

“As the home of Rufus King, one of the framers of the United States Constitution and an early voice in the anti-slavery movement, King Manor Museum is thrilled to take part in the Queens Borough President’s Poetry Contest,” said Nadezhda Williams, executive director of the King Manor Museum. “King was constantly learning, thinking and writing about freedom and government. While he never put any of those thoughts down as poetry, I am sure he would have loved to hear the applications. What a wonderful way to mark the 230th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution – we look forward to what freedom means to Queens students.”

Statue Cruises, the official ticket and tour provider to the Statue of Liberty, is another collaborator in the contest.
“A record number of visitors sailed on board Statue Cruises last year to visit our symbol of freedom and democracy,” said Statue Cruises Vice President Mike Burke. “We are thrilled to partner with the borough of Queens to engage with our local youth as they share their powerful voices through poetry on what these two milestones mean to them.”

Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or ahernandez@queenstribune.com

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