Students Sweep Cowboy Poetry Contest

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Of the 10 finalists that were chosen from more than a thousand entries in the Young Writers Cowboy Poetry Contest, nine were from Liberty Christian School. In their first year to compete at the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering at the Fort Worth Stockyards last semester, Liberty eighth and ninth grade finalists wrote poems in class and presented them from memory at the contest. Liberty freshmen Sidney Watts won first place and a $3,500 college scholarship, and Hannah Albert won second place and a $2,500 college scholarship.

Liberty teachers Ruthie Quam and Claire Batey began preparing students for this competition when fellow teacher Debra Cook, who has seen juniors place and win this competition in previous years, invited Quam and Batey to include Liberty’s younger students.

For Liberty to take nine out of the 10 places was an amazing feat. Quam said her students compete in three to four writing contests a year, but this one was unique because finalists must memorize and present their poems before an audience and a panel of judges.

“Speaking in front of a group is a great life skill and competing gives students confidence in their writing and speaking abilities,” she said.

Quam felt that one of the reasons Liberty did so well was an assignment her students complete every year.

“My students have a large poetry project due in the spring. They spend one day each week learning about a different type of poetry and then writing it,” she said. “At the end of the project, they put together an illustrated book of their own poetry. This poetry project offers students a chance to express themselves in a different way. I am always impressed by their creativity.”

This cowboy gathering and festival is named after Red Steagall, the Poet Laureate of Texas in 2006. Steagall said that he hoped everyone who attended the event would return home with a new perspective on true western living. 

“I loved hearing Red Steagall speak,” Quam said. “He has such a passion for our youth and our Texas heritage. At present date, he has awarded more than $500,000 to students through this contest and two others.”

The other Liberty finalists were Savannah Cothes , Braden Garoutte, Hugh Jeffery, Katie Smith, Grace Stinson, Taylor Thompson, and Brandon Wayman.

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