Moving Words Student Competition Poems Archive

Moving Words

Held each spring for Arlington Public School students, the Moving Words Student Poetry Competition is a partnership between Arlington Cultural Affairs and the Arlington Public Schools Humanities Project, with support from Arlington Transit. Moving Words supports the goals of the Humanities Project’s Pick A Poet program, which invites professional poets into APS classrooms to share their experience and love for the craft with students. Visiting poets help students explore their own creativity, insight, and intellectual curiosity through the creative writing process, and provide students an opportunity to meet and talk with professional writers.  The students are then encouraged to submit their work to the Moving Words student competition.

All poems from the previous years are archived on the Arlington County Commuter Services’ website.

2021 Winners

Selected by juror Tatiana Figueroa Ramirez from 132 entries by 88 students, the work of the ten winning poets will be printed on colorful placards and displayed prominently on Arlington Transit’s ARTbuses, enlivening the ride for thousands of commuters. The poems were selected from each of the following categories: K-2nd, 3rd–5th, 6th–8th, and 9th–12th

Read all 2021 Student Moving Words winning and honorable mention poems below! 

2021 Student Moving Words Winning Poems

Hannah Montoya-Schons (7th Grade, HB-Woodlawn)
I remember the desert that never ends with mountains scattered all around.
I remember waking up to the adult’s chatter and the morning light.
I would have endless play dates with my cousins there.
I would ride a horse into the dark.
1:00 am was the curfew and just before then I’d have fun.
I’d end my day being tired from all the activity.

Emilio Mucchetti (5th Grade, Nottingham Elementary School)
Victory In Sight
I emerge from COVID
Like the sun rising after night,
Taking the moon's place.
Finally, I can see my cousins again.
I feel lighter.
Even the air feels sweeter.

Ellie Leichtman (6th Grade, Kenmore Middle School)
Arising from the earth new and fresh
Wriggling free from the ground
New life and new leaves
Taller, taller, and taller it grows
Reaching the sky
Spreading its fingertips wide
Green and plentiful it grows and flourishes
One day shedding its leaves and fading slowly away
It’s seeds soak into the earth creating new life, sinking roots into the ground
And one day sprouting from the soft wet dirt it begins anew

Heili Shattuck (6th Grade, Kenmore Middle School)
the list is posted,
think back to 2 weeks ago you were Michael Jordan on that court,
Lionel Messi on the field,
Simone Biles on the floor,
everyone else had those Jordan Air's and cocky smiles,
not you no sir,
on the varsity boys basketball team,
a girl

Anatoly Rodriguez Veizaga (6th Grade, Kenmore Middle School)

Charlotte Fletcher (7th Grade, HB Woodlawn)
The hours of late
The Great Crater Lake
My eyes have it too
The shade that rhymes with clue
If my soul was a color
It would be none other
Than the one that’s always true
What do they call it?
Isn’t it...

Samuel Jackman (8th Grade, Dorothy Hamm Middle School)
I stare in awe of the sun's grand exit
as it declines into the sea—
like Helios joining Persephone in the underworld,
the evening light enchants me like fairy dust—
so beautiful that my jaw
at the sight of it.

Nicola Beaumont (9th Grade, HB Woodlawn)
At the end of the well-worn path,
Traversed by the weary and the alone,
What lies at the end but home?

Home remains the same throughout time,
Whether it be made of earth or stone,
No matter the place or the price to be paid,
It is a shelter that you call your own.

Come in, come in,
Take in the warmth from light and from flame.
Live and grow and change.

Erick F. Corzo-Valle (10th Grade, Wakefield High School)
I can say it in English,
or in Spanish, maybe in German,
in Arabic sounds beautiful,
and French isn't left behind, but
I just wanted to let you know,
that you look beautiful today.

Rain Varela (11th Grade, Wakefield High School)
always trust someone whose mouth is lined with insects
who makes frogs out of beeping and glowing clay
and feels joy to hear the screech of grinding metal
because the trust and love of someone who spends all their days
listening to the thrum of the universe's heartbeat
and thinks that all smells are about the same
cannot be rivaled by all praise that comes from
the beast that wants to give people their names

2021 Student Moving Words Honorable Mention Poems

Julia Green (7th Grade, HB Woodlawn)
a thought lingers in my brain
It brings me pain but it wont go away
Is it really a thought or is it a memory
A memory of a very bad day or a way,
A way i was treated long ago
By a person with a rather large ego
A person Who made me feel worthless and belittled
The feeling stays there strong,
Without the memory there in my brain,
the sun can shine for another day

Tyson Walther (7th Grade, HB Woodlawn)
I drop down my board
I don’t want to try this again
The scary set of stairs starts to stare at me
The battle begins
So I push as hard as I can
harder than a fighters punch to the face
I take three huge pushes
I knew I could do it
I look down at my board
Then I put my head up I see the stairs
I pop my board, POW and I roll away

Shaina Broudy (6th Grade, Kenmore Middle School)
A wish is something to hold on to
Cast one upon a star
A wish is the blow of a dandelion
That takes it’s seeds so far
Blow out your candles on your birthday
Just like you always do
A wish is a hope, a dream
And one day it just might come true

Lili Demerdjieva (11th Grade, Wakefield High School)
You are art.
You are a combination of everything.
Of people you love,
Of people you do not talk to anymore,
Of people who hurt you.
You are a walking mural,
A combination of everything you once knew or once loved,
Or still know,
Or still love.
You are art.

Juhud Abdulkadir (11th Grade, Wakefield High School)
A pond of water
A forest full of beautiful flowers
A city full of people
House full of people
Yet we can’t find our comfort
The feeling of love rare
Yet the phrase is a trend
Oh my life
What have you stored for me?

Tarek Khalifa (8th Grade, Swanson Middle School)
What is paradise, what can it be?
Is it the same to you as it is to me?

Is it a place where one forgets their problems for a while
somewhere where people just stop and smile?

Or is it something deeper? A place that doesn’t end
where you have the rest of your life to spend?

Is it a place where you are happy with who you are
where all is good and bad is a far?

A place where calmness runs from your head to your toe,
where relaxation and comfort are all that you know.

What is paradise, what can it be?
Is it the same to you as it is to me?

Brandon Kaplan (8th Grade, Dorothy Hamm Middle School)
I am from concussions,
From leg injuries,
From hip injuries,
All of which made everything tougher
I am from Mom and Dad,
I am from pickup Basketball or Football games with my friends,
I am from Xbox and 2k, wagering and toxicity, winning and cheering
But most importantly…
I am from the people who believe in me

Josie Clayton (8th Grade, Dorothy Hamm Middle School)
I am from DC, the Kennedy Center, and Nationals games
I am from Saturday trips to mini golf and ice cream
I am from Cinnamon Toast Crunch, from PB&J in princess sandwich boxes
I am from social media and viral videos and funny challenges
I am from the cherry blossoms and daffodils and honey suckle
I am from the long drives with loads of movies
I am from because I said so and don’t ask again
I am from Oliver and Avery’s backyard
I am from the soccer fields and basketball courts the high school theaters and band concerts
I am from an age of masks and fear and death, but also hope and justice and ingenuity

Lane Samowich (8th Grade, Dorothy Hamm Middle School)
the sun is saying goodbye
but don’t worry the scattered stars will be here soon
as the damp grass reaches up to tickle our feet
we watch as the sun is devoured by darkness
and while we wait for the stars
driving in divine cars
eating homemade ice cream bars
as strawberry sweetness drips down our arms
we prepare to say goodbye, to everything and nothing
and as sun finally drifts away I close my eyes to say, goodbye

Emma Hemsch (8th Grade, Dorothy Hamm Middle School)
Evening light frowns upon shoes;
In fact, all our feet are bare
As the sun turns her cheek to look the other way
We make the rules in her absence
Walking across town to the beach
Through sandy yards and across cooling pavement
Extraneous clothes are shed like fake skins;
We have no need for our shields
When the harsh, cruel judgement of the world is gone for the night.

Helena Connel (8th Grade, Williamsburg Middle School)
I feel it in my finger
A blister forming from my pencil
My head hurts
My brain almost an empty pool
I almost quit
But change isn’t easy
My words almost didn’t make a difference

Juliet Connel (4th Grade, Tuckahoe Elementary School)
When the wind blows
they fall out into the wind
till the next spring

2017 Winners

More than six hundred poems were submitted in 2017 by Arlington Public Schools students from all grades; from these ten winning poems and eight honorable mention awardees were selected.  The competition judges were area poets Holly Karapetkova and Martha Sanchez-Lowery and Arlington County Poet Laureate Katherine E. Young.

To see all student Moving Words poems since 1999, visit the Arlington Transit website,

Read all 2017 Student Moving Words winning and honorable mention poems below! 

2017 Student Moving Words Winning Poems

Luis Has Money
My friends and me
Going down the street
To Dairy Queen
We made it
We order
Now the moment
Of Truth
Who’s paying?
We know

– Mauricio Ventura, 9th Grade, Wakefield High School


Sadness is a hole with no bottom
Sadness is a night with no stars
Sadness is when the sun won’t shine
And the rain won’t stop
Sadness is a shadow
But shadows only exist
When somewhere there is light.

– Bronwen Kubiak, 6th Grade, Thomas Jefferson Middle School


Really fast
Imagining buses
Rubber tires

–  Edan Goldenpine, Kindergarten, Drew Model Elementary School


From the Mind of Led Lorenz to the Global Resistance Movements
One fragile wing flap
A tsunami’s breath away
The catalyst? You.

– Marilyn Warren, 8th Grade, Kenmore Middle School


I am from the restless cities and the peaceful countrysides
I am from the days I felt the sun’s scorching heat
(On the nights, a cool summer breeze)
I am from the sloped mountains of Idaho
And the laid back towns of Virginia
From constantly running from the past
And Never looking back

– Matthew Kress, 8th Grade, Swanson Middle School


Sea Stars
Sea stars look like they
Don’t move all day…
But you’re VERY wrong.
They eat clams and mussels…
But they do. not. hustle!

– Rachel Gaynor, 1st Grade, Ashlawn Elementary School


Wooden dock
Creaks beneath my bike
Crab pots and grey strings left out
The jetty piers groan.

– Lily Watson, 8th Grade, Kenmore Middle School


When will we go Home?
The elephants will link their trunks to others’ tails and follow the sinking sun
The birds will soar with the wind and dive into their nests
The wolves will dash through the snow howling until they meet their dens
We will get on the buses and ride through the packed roads
Finally approaching the place we call home

–  Lina Kim, 5th Grade, Arlington Traditional School


The ocean is an ink-black rubber band
stretching through the night.
A cold breeze passes through the city
like a mysterious kite.
The fish are swimming
deep in the sea.
Everything is silent
and no one can see.
When the clock strikes midnight
it’s another life to me.

– Jacqueline Joyce, 1st Grade, Arlington Science Focus School


Half Moon
Bright as a gem
Black and blue painted across the sky
The wind sounds like crystals falling from the air
Why is the moon so bright?
What does it feel like?
I feel so comfortable and happy as sparkling white snow
Good night moon
Good night moon
Good night moon

–  Eleanor, 2nd Grade, Jamestown Elementary

2017 Student Moving Words Honorable Mention Poems

That Old Brick House
hearts will break and bruises ache
in that old brick house
dads throw fits and wives get hit
in that old brick house
times were strange but children change
in that old brick house
wounds will heal, we’re made of steel
in my old brick house
when I leave no one will grieve
in that old brick house

– Molly Lane, 8th Grade, Swanson Middle School


Nosotros Decimos
Nosotros decimos
Hablar alto!
Se túá mismo!
Pero porqué decimos
Haz lo que hacen
Ve con la multitude
Cuál es correcto?
No lo sabemos

– Guy Shoji, 7th Grade, Swanson Middle School


El Hombre
Hey you suit and tie man!
Why are you on the green bus?
Are you going to the big glass building?
Anyways what are you going to accomplish in your long day of work?
You should make sure you wear matching socks next time.
And you shouldn’t have your papers sticking out of your briefcase.
Pull your tie tighter!
At the end of the day you’ll be on this bus again
with a wallet of cash as fat as a Bible.
Well this is goodbye…It’s your stop.

– Ramon Allen-Arellano, 9th Grade, Wakefield High School


A World I Dream Of
I dream of a world where women aren’t look down upon,
Stereotyped as housewives,
Belonging in a kitchen
I dream of a world where every civilian is treated fairly,
Regardless of the color of their skin
I dream of a world where we aren’t judged by our looks,
By the way we dress,
By the way we speak,
By the way we are shaped
I dream of a world where I get to change something

-Samantha Phuoc Tran, 8th Grade, Swanson Middle School


Where I’m From
I am from enchiladas
The smoke of the carne blowing in my face
From my soft cloud bed in my home
I am from karate kicks
and from rocket soccer goals
I am from Reynaldo and Maribel
I am from No drugs
From not going to church but still believing.

– Anonymous, 7th Grade, Kenmore Middle School


Ice, snow, hail, slush,
pounding down like a thousand heartbeats,
tickling the tip of my nose
as I walk in to the blankness
of cold.

–  Eve Nardone, 3rd Grade, Arlington Traditional School


One Shiny Star
It glitters like a holiday tree,
The song of the star shining.
It comes home to my heart.
You can see it.

–  Zoë Spangler, Kindergarten, Abingdon Elementary School