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Student poets reflect on sorrow and joy

Wednesday 1 September 2021

Themes of sorrow, hope and joy amid the disruption of COVID-19 run through entries in a student poetry competition run by Independent Schools Victoria (ISV).

Winners of the competition, which was open to students from all Victorian schools regardless of sector, were unveiled by the Deputy Premier and Education Minister, Mr Merlino, today.

The winners were judged from more than 350 entries from students from Prep to Year 12 enrolled in Independent, Government and Catholic schools.

In the second such competition run by ISV, students were asked to write on any subject, with the optional theme of ‘joy’.

Judges commended the winners on the depth, maturity, choice of words and engaging construction of their poems.

In a video message congratulating the winners, Mr Merlino said it could be hard to find joy amid a pandemic, and he remarked on the ‘real sorrow’ expressed in some of the entries. At the same time, he reassured students of better times ahead.

ISV Chief Executive Michelle Green said she was impressed by light and shade expressed in the poems, reflecting the maturity and resilience of students of all ages.

‘What strikes me is that students have the strength and confidence to simultaneously acknowledge sadness and optimism,’ Ms Green said.

‘I was moved by the words of Year 6 student Grace Sudjono, who celebrates the seasons in her poem Awaiting Spring:

“The buzzing of insects,
The optimistic birdsong
Enlivens all hearts.”

— Grace Sudjono, Harkaway Hills College

‘In reflecting on the rhythms of the seasons, Grace writes of hope and anticipation.

‘Without in any way underestimating the stresses all students are under, this expresses an encouraging message of confidence and optimism.’

The competition is part of the Arts Learning Festival, presented by ISV. The festival reflects ISV’s long-standing commitment to the role of the arts as an integral part of school education.

Student Poetry Competition 2021 winners

  • Prep–Year 2
    Mia Mastroianni, a Year 2 student at St Margaret’s Berwick Grammar School, for her poem, Max.
  • Years 3–4
    Ariana Fais, a Year 3 student at Elwood Primary School, for her poem, The Wolves of the Night.
  • Years 5–6
    Grace Sudjono, a Year 6 student at Harkaway Hills College, for her poem, Awaiting Spring.
  • Years 7–8
    Nechama Davis, a Year 8 student at Beth Rivkah Ladies College, for her poem, Dancing with Tempestas.
  • Years 9–10
    Melis Benli, a Year 10 student at Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School, for her poem, Lighting the Fire.
  • Years 11–12
    Emma Jones, a Year 12 student at Tintern Grammar, for her poem, Father and Daughter.

Read each poem and watch a video of the winning entries via the link below.

Media contact

Tom Hyland
ISV Media and Communications Advisor
0417 562 924