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Heritage Grove MS eighth grader wins state poetry contest -- Student moving on to nationwide finals

  Heritage Grove Middle School eighth grader Stella Abarca is the 2020 Illinois Manningham Trust Poetry Competition Junior Division Champion.

She will now take part in the National Federation of State Poetry Societies competition in June.

The Manningham Trust Competition is a national poetry contest for public, private, and home-schooled students in 6th-12th grades.

The students' poems are first judged at the state level by Illinois State Poetry Society members.

Abarca’s poem, “What World We Live In” was selected from nearly 70 entries from 6th-8th graders statewide.


“It is amazing and humbling to know my poem was picked. Poetry can help you express yourself,” Abarca said.

The teen, who is also a Girl Scout, said she was inspired to write the winning poem after she organized a clothing drive for refugee children as part of a project.

“I learned about the problems they face and that inspired me to write how helping one person can change a person’s life and slowly the world,” she said.

“Stella’s poem would have given some high school poems a run for their money,” said Illinois State Poetry Society Youth Chair Mary Beth Bretzlauf.

Abarca began writing poetry in third grade and has published two poems, including her winning poem.  

“I find it so refreshing to know that there are young adults who read, and even more uncommon, write for pleasure, in today’s social media and technology driven world,” said HGMS 8TH grade honors Language Arts teacher Amy Hudson.

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