Student poem selected for Stop Hate Challenge 

Jameson Sauka performs his poemAccording to sixth grade student Jameson Sauka, when trying to figure out next steps, it is important to dig deep and find your “why.”

He used this philosophy when creating an original poem for the Orange County Stop Hate Challenge. This year’s topic was “Becoming an Upstander; Building Bridges For Humanity,” and students were invited to reflect on various questions, words and quotes as well as personal experiences to create an original work in the form of an essay, poem or song (MP3). 

“At first I didn’t know where to start, but then I thought to myself, ‘Why do I want to stop the hate?’ Once I found the answer, it was a lot easier.” Jameson explained his why: “no one deserves to be hated.”

Out of 150 applicants, Sauka was one of four selected to present his work. He was recognized as the honorable mention for the middle school category at Middletown High School on April 16. “It felt really good that they wanted to include my work in the event, and that my work created the emotion I hoped it would,” Sauka shared.

Jameson Sauka and his teacher Kate Riehle pose with Sauka's award“It just so happened that we were in our poetry unit when they released the prompt,” said Kate Riehle, Sauka’s English teacher. “Jameson was extremely confident in his writing and I’m glad he gained some experience in public speaking.” 

“It was a little nerve-wracking getting in front of people, but once I focused on the poem, it was a lot easier,” Sauka added. “I learned that I’m a lot better at writing than I thought I was, and I plan to continue writing poetry.”

Sauka was awarded $100 for his achievement, and Riehle $50, which she gave to her student to donate to a charity of his choice. Sauka chose the Make-a-Wish Foundation.     

“I hope students gain knowledge of creative writing through this experience, but also of the bigger picture; they learn about famous people who faced struggles throughout history,” Riehle shared.