The 11th annual Peace Poetry Contest and Reading by Northern Essex Community College was held Friday, May 3.

Dozens of students from area public and private schools gathered in the Hartleb Technology Center at the Haverhill campus to read their original peace poems in front of hundreds of family members and friends. Students ranged from kindergarten age to high school.

Two Andover students were among the 11 first place winners.

The winners included:

Kindergarten, Yasser Azzou, “Peace in Your Heart,” The Islamic Academy for Peace, Methuen.

First Grade, Selena Almedia, “Crashing Waves,” Tilton School, Haverhill.

Second Grade, Sena Kaplan, “Peace is Beautiful,” The Islamic Academy for Peace, Methuen.

Third Grade, Bella Lomaka, “Peace,” Sargent School, North Andover.

Fourth Grade, Adel Sounalah, “Peace Knows No Differences,” The Islamic Academy for Peace, Methuen.

Fifth grade, Niranjan Nair, “Once Upon a Time…,” Sanborn School, Andover.

Sixth Grade, Aisha Farheen Riaz, “The Flame of Peace,” The Islamic Academy for Peace, Methuen.

Seventh Grade, Andrew Kanakor, “Better World,” Saint Michael School, Lowell.

Eighth Grade, Timothy Tran, “The End of War,” Lowell Catholic, Lowell.

High School, Rayna Rodriguez, “O’ Brave New World,” Methuen High School, Methuen.

Adult Category, Nancy Earley, “Shattered Peace,” NECC Student of Andover.

Since its inception 11 years ago, more than 11,000 peace poems have been submitted to the contest.

“It’s great to see this many faces gathered tonight to celebrate what was considered a dying art," said Enzo Surin, a poet and associate professor of English at Bunker Hill Community College. "Somebody is always saying something about how no one reads poetry anymore, yet the latest numbers tell us that poetry is being read and written at an astronomical rate, especially poetry that is socially and politically conscious."

The peace poetry contest and reading was created by Dr. Paul Saint-Amand, a retired NECC English professor. He founded the event to promote peace.

Saint-Amand was honored at the event and given an award for his contribution to the promotion of peace.

“Poetry provides us with the platform to not only express ourselves, but also a pathway to create and nurture community," he said. "That is one of the reasons why I love to write. Poetry provided me with opportunities, such as tonight’s event, to connect with people that I would not have otherwise.”

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