Judges Comments - 5th Grade Division - Southwestern Illinois College


1st Place: Cole McDonald

The first-place winner in fifth grade is Cole McDonald of Chester. Cole attends St. Mary’s in Chester. Cole’s winning poem is titled The Rainforest.

          The first thing one sees as one looks at this poem is the pleasing way it appears on the page. The tight structure adds to the excitement in the poem.

The words predators everywhere being on the same line helps create that tight tense excitement.

ThupThupThup and Patpatpat are examples of the word making the sound of what it is (onomatopoeia.)

          Cole is able to paint a picture with his words. One can see the dense vegetation and the little bit of light glinting through the trees.

          He uses rhyme in an interesting way. It isn’t regular, but its sparseness makes it intriguing. There is just enough to be interesting, and not so much that it is overdone. Looking at the poem carefully, one can see that all of the words that do rhyme will rhyme with one another. Interesting!

          Keep up the good work, Cole.

2nd Place: Arabella Mallender

The second-place winner in fifth grade is Arabella Mallender. She lives in Chester and attends Chester Grade School. Arabella likes to play the flute, write stories, and she loves to read. Her favorite poet is Shel Silverstein and her favorite poem he wrote is How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes.

          The title of her winning poem is There’s a Monster in the Attic. The poem is a humorous look at the fears we build up when we hear noises that are unexplained.

          Arabella utilizes some poetic devices. One is onomatopoeia where the formation of the word comes from the sound associated with the word. Examples are scritch, scratch and click.

          Other poetic devices she uses are rhyme and assonance, and she uses them throughout the poem. There are times when the words actually rhyme as seen in indeed and need, but there are other times when the vowel sound being the same (assonance) is enough to make the poem flow nicely. Examples of assonance such as fact and back and also, indeed and sleep keep the rhythm flowing smoothly.

          Arabella, continue to write. You have a creative imagination that helps make a scary situation humorous.

3rd Place: Reed Petrowske

          Reed Petrowske lives in Chester and is the third-place winner in the fifth grade. He attends St. Mary’s of Chester.

          His winning poem is Mountains.  In his fine poem, he employs a strong verb choice in the very first line. He uses the word wipes which is so much more effective than a normal word like blows which would also fit there but would be less effective.

          Reed also utilizes onomatopoeia where the formation of the word comes from the sound associated with the word. The sounds (words) whoosh and crunch are examples.

          He uses a simile (a comparison using like or as) in lines seven and eight

where he compares the mountain to the height of a building.

          Reed is very careful in his word choices. An excellent example is in line thirteen. The words Plank position cause us to see clearly the picture of what this mountain climbing will look like. In fact, the whole stanza creates a perfect picture of the mountain climber climbing the mountain. Plank position is also alliterative because both words start with p.

          Reed, continue to write poems. You have a gift for choosing descriptive language.



3rd Place: Eli Congiardo

The 3rd Place Winner in the 5th Grade Division is Eli Congiardo, a student at Mary Help of Christians School in Chester.  The title of Eli’s award-winning poem is “Movies.”

Eli’s hobbies are building things in shop, drawing, and Legos.

Eli’s poem takes a simple subject, movies, and examines it in a new and interesting way.  His word choices, such as “jammies” and “comfy chair” are entertaining and to the point; and the structure of the poem is organized and has an easy flow.  Eli’s well-crafted poem generates and sustains an overall mood of relaxation and comfort.  The one-word closing line is perfect!

Good job, Eli!

2nd Place: Rusty Korando

The 2nd Place Winner in the 5th Grade Division is Rusty Korando, who attends Mary Help of Christians School in Chester.  The title of his award-winning poem is “Baseball.”

The first thing I noticed about Rusty’s poem is that it does not express the usual content of a poem about baseball:  the hits, the outs, the running, the winner.  Rather, the poem focuses on “friendship,” “partnership,” “being a good teammate.”

This is a well-crafted poem, with excellent punctuation and meaningful word choices.  The interest level is high, and the insightful ending is pleasantly powerful.

Very good work, Rusty!

1st Place: Jaden Bert

The 1st Place Winner in the 5th Grade Division is Jaden Bert, a student at Chester Grade School.  His award-winning poem is titled “What on Earth?”

Jaden’s poem is an excellent antonym diamante poem, which has a number of distinct rules that must be followed.  Not only did Jaden follow all the rules, his subject is not simple!

In judging this poem, Pat and I carefully studied the rules of an antonym diamante poem, as well as the subject of the poem!  “What on Earth?” is well-crafted and very interesting.  It is coherent and has excellent, precise word choices.

Very good work, Jaden!


3rd Place: Nathan Jany

The 3rd Place Winner in the 5th Grade Division is Nathan Jany, a student at Mary Help of Christians School in Chester. The title of his award-winning poem is “Night.”

The mood in Nathan’s poem is very calming and peaceful, which is perfect for the main subject in the poem – noticing the night sky as one is falling asleep. The poem has vivid images that the reader can clearly see in his/her own mind. The image in the 4th line, “glowing moon, reflecting light back at me” is especially powerful.

The line breaks in the poem present an orderly progression and a smooth pace that allow the reader to look forward to noticing and enjoying the night sky him/herself.

Very nice work, Nathan!

2nd Place: Logan McDonald:

The 2nd Place Winner in the 5th Grade Division is Logan McDonald, who attends Mary Help of Christians School in Chester. The title of Logan’s award-winning poem is “Reading.”

The first three lines of this poem present a strong level of substance and interest. They make the reader want to know more about the subject of reading.

Three lines in the middle of the poem:
“pick up a volume from the bookshelf,
settle yourself comfy
and read”
offer a cozy mood and entice the reader to follow the suggestion.

The second last line: “escape reality for awhile” is an insightful and highly truthful ending.

The wisdom and substance of this poem is powerful and etches itself into the reader’s memory.

Very good work, Logan!

1st Place: Aleah Eggemeyer:

The 1st Place Winner in the 5th Grade Division is Aleah Eggemeyer, a student at Chester Grade School.  Aleah’s hobbies include gymnastics and volleyball.  Her favorite poem is “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out,” by her favorite poet, Shel Silverstein.

Aleah’s 1st Place award-winning poem is titled “Mother Nature.”  Pat and I totally fell in love with this excellent and entertaining poem!  The rhythm and rhyme of Aleah’s poem make it enjoyable to read out loud, as well as to listen to.

The descriptive simile in the 4th line tells us that “the moon is like a big light.”  You might remember that a simile is a figure of speech in which an explicit comparison is made between two essentially unlike things, using like or as.  Aleah uses another simile in the 11th line:  “Clouds are fluffy like cotton balls.”

The word “Boom” in the 7th line is an onomatopoeia:  the sound of the word suggests its meaning.  Sound is an important part of poetry; the onomatopoeia is often used for emphasis, as it is here.

In the 13th line, Aleah uses an alliteration, the repetition of initial sounds in neighboring words:  “Rain drip drops on the roof.”  She follows that line with humor:  “I wonder if my roof is waterproof.”  Very clever, as well as amusing.

In addition, the mood, the feeling, in Aleah’s poem is consistent throughout the poem, with an underlying sense of humor, which is refreshing. Very pleasant and well-done work, Aleah!