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Student Spotlight: Hype for Hannah

By Rachel Houng

New Hyde Park Memorial High School is abuzz with the structuring of language that may hold the key to facilitating change. Many students utilize this power to create poetry and were given the opportunity to share the power of their words in the 37th Student Poetry Contest hosted by the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association.

The theme, “I am large… I contain multitudes,” drew from Whitman’s poem, “Song of Myself.” The contest encouraged poets to dive into the “‘multitudes’ contained within you.” The deadline of the competition was March 17.

About a month later on April 20, period six of Ms. Kaspar’s class learned that senior Hannah Ninan was named Grand Champion in Category E, which consists of junior and senior high school students. The class exploded into applause as student Mohamed Adam read the letter from Lisa Pulitzer, the education director at Whitman, recognizing Ninan’s poem.

Ms. Kaspar organized a surprise party during period six to celebrate Ninan, where students in her AP Literature and Composition class brought snacks and their support.

Source from Mohammed Adam

Mrs. Kaspar's sixth period AP class displays snacks in celebration of a student's success.

The poem is titled “Traveling Pots” and presents the idea that each individual is part of a beautiful story despite how they perceive their flaws.

The writer shared their experience of writing the poem.

Q: What inspired the poem?

Hannah Ninan: I always think about why we are called great by other people but not by ourselves. So we always call ourselves lowly but we have our own motivations and our own skills. We think of ourselves as inferior, but when others look at us, they themselves are afraid of our potential.

Q: What is your favorite line?

HN: “handing over our brokenness.. to someone out there and getting back a beautiful mosaic.” I actually always include this in my prayers. We are a beautiful mosaic even though we are broken; in the end there is a beautiful story.

Q: How did you come up with the concept of traveling pots connecting to the theme?

HN: I first wrote the poem; then I wrote the title. I wanted to start with the basic form, clay or mud, that’s what we form from…and clay makes pots. I wanted to portray the idea of traveling and experiencing a story that just happens.

Q: What does poetry mean to you?

HN: Poetry is like expressing yourself even though you know other people may not understand you, and certain people can understand you using very minimal words and telling a feeling that you know and maybe not understand but there may be someone who does.

The awards ceremony will be held on May 21 at the Birthplace where she and other award winners will have the opportunity to attend an award show, listen to music, view exhibits and tour the historic house where Walt Whitman was born in 1918. Winners will also share their poems in a live reading.

“Traveling Pots” by Hannah Ninan

We are clay, molded to portray living breathing humans

Questioning our existence on a planet out in nowhere

Still made with a purpose-

Perfectly purposely sculpted

As the universe came together to create each one of us.

But those small dents, the exaggerations the sculptor makes - we are those flaws

If we all were perfect, I wonder if we won’t need names ‘cause we are one,

Molded from the same clay.

Handed over our brokenness, worries, and pressures, to someone out there

To be handed back a beautiful mosaic depicting a story of gold.

We turn into pots carrying golden memories

Together grasping pots of gold we walk on,

Feeling useless but told we are made for greatness.

We carry on to our own rhythm, experiencing a story

None in the billion years of Earth have experienced.

In this pathway, we try to learn the stories of others,

Crossing buildings that hold the minds that could have soared over clouds like kites.

Mercy crosses the pink stained glass building

Through which the grandness of the illuminations falls on the faces of sinners.

We go through the highs and lows of life, waiting in line to become stable,

So to finally rest in peace and be happy in solitude.

Sweet solitude, like an oasis

Though we crave solitude,

In multitudes, we are born, we walk, we die.

Though seasons change, our fight doesn’t seem to stop,

We fight together to endure the coldness of our hearts and the heat of our minds.

Fighters, we are, fighting that these rains and storms don’t deform us.

Though death brings peace, we fight to make it out happy with our way of life.


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