Allegan County News & Union Enterprise News

Three Plainwell students honored in poetry contest

Plainwell students (from left) Audra Huberty, Josie Longcore and Julia Bitely are seen at the awards ceremony for the Pestka Art & Poetry Contest. (Photo provided)

By Jason Wesseldyk
Sports Editor

On Monday, May 6, organizers of the Henry Pestka Art & Poetry Contest held their annual dinner and awards ceremony at Frederik Meijer Gardens.
And three Plainwell High School students were among those being honored.
Josie Longcore, Julia Bitely and Audra Huberty all placed in the top 10 of their respective grade levels for their poems.
Students from a total of nine districts completed in the contest, which is “designed for students who are completing Michigan state education requirements for Holocaust and Genocide Education, enabling them the opportunity to process and reflect on the concepts they learned through writing or art.”
The theme for this year was “Hope,” and explored how, despite facing unimaginable tragedies like the Holocaust, hope can be found in our common humanity.
“All three of these individuals are amazing students and great representatives of Plainwell Community Schools,” Plainwell High School principal Jeremy Wright said. “They work hard, and it was nice to see that work recognized by the Pestka Organization.”
Longcore placed first in the 10th-grade category for her poem “Red;” Bitely received second place in the 8th-grade category for her poem “Midnight Moon;” and Huberty finished third in the 9th-grade category for her poem “Journey of Hope.”
Julie Trahan teaches Holocaust Literature at Plainwell High School.
“I’m very proud of the work these three students submitted,” Trahan said. “Their poems were very insightful. The theme of the contest was ‘Hope,’ and their works demonstrate how people survived and retained their humanity amidst brutal conditions. 
“I am honored to represent Plainwell and showcase our students’ work.”
In addition to receiving a framed certificate in honor of their accomplishments, the three Plainwell students were also given additional prizes, a gift bag of goodies and a book by Liza Weimer, who spoke at the event.
According to the contest’s webpage on:
“All too often, images of the Holocaust we remember are those created by the perpetrators. We see people humiliated, starved and beaten, dressed in rags or tawdry striped uniforms and robbed of their humanity.
“If our study of the Holocaust ends there, we victimize these people a second time. When we engage with survivor testimonies or memoirs, we come to see those targeted by the Nazis as individuals, meeting them as people who gave and received love and for whom the memory of those they loved was a source of extraordinary strength. Love nourished their soul and sometimes inspired hope.
“Though the Holocaust was a painfully tragic time in human history, there were everyday people who acted heroically, even when facing the most hopeless situations. Whether it was a Jewish prisoner who aided other victims, righteous gentiles who sheltered the Jews, or local people who spoke out, there were glimmers of hope in an otherwise terrible time.”

Leave a Reply