SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Several third and fourth graders from Roosevelt Elementary School put on a poetic presentation at the May 15 board of education meeting, showcasing the original works that garnered each of them the honor of being named a 2018-2019 ‘Junior Journalist.’

“We had a tremendous group of Junior Journalists this year….” Roosevelt Principal Robert Diehl said, noting that approximately 15 of this year’s winners are current or former students of the school. 

During the meeting, some of Roosevelt’s Junior Journalist winners had the opportunity to share their original works – with a bit of a twist. Rather than recite the poems, third graders Jack Gustafson, Logan Cohen, Susmith Chiluka,and Sanai Patterson along with fourth graders Dylan Nicolay and Trinity Holmes, with help from teacher Mike Bertram, answered the question 'What is Poetry' by delivering an upbeat and animated team-oriented piece made up of excerpts from each of their winning poems.

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Each school year, students in Bertram’s class write dozens of poems that coincide with the curriculum. Writing poetry, said the third grade teacher, also helps the students embrace differences, build confidence, and learn more about themselves and others. 

“One of the reasons why we do a lot of writing in my classroom and I encourage in the Junior Journalist program is that it is such a great vehicle for self-expression,” Bertram, who helps run the program, told the BOE. “It gives young students a platform to express themselves.”

Bertram, who has taught at Roosevelt School since 2000, writes along with his students and, in April, published his first book entitled said the paper to the pen. 

“Mr. Bertram is such an advocate for our students, writing along and, with his love for poetry, has encouraged his students to submit their work for publication,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Noreen Lishak. “Our entire school district is excited and happy to congratulate Mr. Bertram on his recently publication of his book of poetry…”

“I'd like to thank the board for the kind words about my recently published book, but more importantly I'd like thank them for giving Susmith, Logan, Sanai, Trinity, Dylan, and Jack the opportunity to perform and share their poems,” Bertram told TAPinto South Plainfield. “They did an amazing job.”

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