Liberty Christian captures top honors in state poetry competition

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From among thousands of entries, Liberty Christian students won first place in both the junior and senior divisions in a state poetry contest that awarded them each a $3,500 scholarship. It was the first time Liberty has ever competed in the junior division.

Liberty Christian students put their writing skills to work and entered the youth poetry contest that is a part of the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering and Western Swing Festival that celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. In addition to being a songwriter, recording artist, author and television personality, Red Steagall was named by the Texas State Legislature as the Official Cowboy Poet of Texas in April of 1991. His festival each fall at the Fort Worth Stockyards includes a wagon trail ride, rodeos and competitions.

In the poetry contest, Liberty students gained an understanding of western culture and cowboy language, and their poem topics related to many aspects of western life including ranching, animals, land, environment, home, family, events, pets, friends, and cowboy characters.

Ten finalists in both the junior and senior division are chosen from across the state, and these finalists recite their poems in person at the festival. Three out of the 10 finalists in the junior division and five out of the 10 finalists in the senior division were from Liberty!

“The students gained valuable experience researching western culture, creating their own original poems, and reciting them in front of an audience,” said fifth grade English teacher Kristi Hovanetz.

“I was amazed by the students’ creativity and enthusiasm. They displayed poise and confidence while performing in front of the audience. I am so proud of them and all of the fifth-grade students for putting their hearts into this competition and embodying the Bible verse from Colossians 3:23 that says, ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.’”

The junior division competition is for 8- to 12-year-olds, and Liberty finalists included Christian Nubel, Sydney Schroeder, and Peyton Smith, with Christian winning the top prize.

In class, they listened to selected cowboy poems and wrote class poems, then students researched their topics and wrote the poems independently. The poems ranged from serious to humorous to inspirational.

In the senior division for 13- to 18-year-olds, Liberty junior Dara Fuller won first place, with four of her peers also included in the top 10: Sarah Albert, freshman; Charlotte Copeland, freshman; Peyton Garrett, junior; and Will McClain, junior.

In her poem, Dara wrote about her grandfather.

Dara said, “I was thrilled to hear I had been selected as a finalist, and it was an honor to win. My grandfather is very dear to me, and I am delighted others were able to hear my tribute to him.”

Finalist Will McClain added, “The poetry contest was a great experience, learning about the culture of cowboys and also hearing all the creativity from the other contestants.”

English teacher Shelley Williams said, “I am so proud of this wonderful group of students. They represented themselves and Liberty very well.”

English teacher Ruthie Quam agreed, “I love reading the students’ work each year. I am continually awed by their creativity and sensitivity. Their poems help me ‘see them’ more clearly.

“I also love to see their excitement when they find out they are a finalist, but even more, seeing their classmates celebrate with them.”

Finalist Peyton Garrett concluded, “I feel privileged to have been a part of this poetry competition. It was a great experience and something I will remember for a long time.”

Enjoy the winning poems from the junior and senior division of the Red Steagall Youth Poetry Contest, both from Liberty Christian School.

I Am A Cowboy
By Christian Nubel, fifth-grade student

I am a cowboy who rides the range
Get bucked off my horse
It causes me pain
Get back on with hat in my hand
Say darn you horse don’t do that again

I am a cowboy who rides the range
Drives the cattle through distant plains
I hear the rattle of a sneaky snake
Later that night it’s on my plate

I am a cowboy who rides the range
The life of a cowboy is like a game
I lasso, shoot, and howl at the moon
I’m up at dawn
Don’t sleep ’til noon

I am a cowboy who rides the range
It’s the life I love
Won’t ever change
When it’s time to say goodbye
I’ll continue my ride up in the sky

Back in the Day
By Dara Fuller, 11th-grade student

My grandfather is beginning to lose his memory
and his hair has long been gray,
but every time we come to visit
we sit around his easy chair and talk the day away.

He retells stories with crystalline imagery
of his childhood living on the farm,
his widowed mother working ceaselessly
to raise five little boys on her own.

He explains his life way back then in detail-
for it’s essential all the grandchildren know-
in order to find a honeybee hive you must sit by the lake
and watch patiently the direction they go

And there really is not any use baiting up to go fishing,
if the cows are lying down in the shade
a good dog is a friend for life
nothing tastes better than cool lemonade

Untack your horse and cool him off
before you head inside for dinner
you are never too old to call your momma
and Jesus died to save us sinners.

PawPaw’s eyes look just like they did as a boy
although more than seventy years have past,
but the most important lesson he ever taught
is that in the country-families are built to last.

Vivian Nichols handles communications for Liberty Christian School.


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