Hanover Park pupil Yusra Jones is beaming after winning an inter-schools poetry contest.
The 14-year-old from Crystal High School won the primary-school English category of the “My Covid Journey” competition, run by the Western Cape Education Department.
She was in Grade 7 at Belmor Primary School when she entered in October last year, with a chance to win R25 000 for her school to spend on library resources.
Primary and high school pupils could enter English, Afrikaans, or Xhosa categories.
Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said the “My Covid Journey” theme acknowledged the profound impact of the pandemic on pupils.
Entrants had to explain how the pandemic had affected them, their friends, their families and their schools.
Ms Schäfer said 85 entries were received and the poems explored uncertainty and anxiety, home learning, the impact of safety protocols, and resilience.
Yusra’s poem tells how pupils are present but filled with fear, how books became her escape and her library card her passport to a world beyond the pandemic.
“The main idea for my poem was about my love for books. All of the libraries know me so well already. I Iove reading,” she said.
Winners were selected based on their creativity, style and originality, along with relevance to the topic and grade-appropriate level of writing skills.
Ms Schäfer said: “It can be really tough to speak about what we are going through, especially when the education sector has taken such strain over the past two years. I am proud of their willingness to share their stories with us and hope that it has been emotionally beneficial for them to do so. I congratulate the winners and their schools on this achievement, and look forward to seeing how the prize money will benefit their schools.”
Yusra’s Grade 7 teacher Charnelle Hector- Arendse said poetry gave pupils the freedom to share what was happening in their hearts and minds.
“Maybe they can’t quite articulate their feelings, especially about the pandemic in words, but I found that on paper, they were flowing and really sharing their hearts,” she said.
Belmor Primary School principal Carol Poole said the competition had helped pupils process emotional turmoil and had come at the right time as many had lost so much to the pandemic.
“This was a chance for our learners to break away from the negative and to exit from our realities. It is not an easy task to create a poem, but this poem highlights the real journey during this time.”
My Covid-19 Journey by Yusra Jones
Covid-19 has completely shattered our world.
It has us upside down in a constant twirl.
Social distance, sanitising, mask wearing is our new norm.
We find ourselves in a deadly storm.
Classmates are near, but filled with fear.
I wish we could fast-forward maybe a leap year.
To a better, safer and brighter tomorrow,
A secure future with far less sorrow.
The world of books has been my escape
In the uncertainty and madness.
It’s been my cellotape
Holding things together, characters without measure.
In the middle of restrictions, my mind is still growing.
Covid-19 won’t stop the creative juices from flowing.
My library card is my passport,
It is my every mode of transport.
Yes, I can’t go anywhere,
But books definitely take me everywhere.