Westlake elementary student honored by same contest singer Taylor Swift won as a child

WESTLAKE, OH (WOIO) - Taylor Swift is one of music's hottest singer-songwriters. It's a passion that took off in elementary school after she was selected as one of the winners in a national poetry contest.

Taylor Swift's poem:

It's the same contest that's now recognizing Westlake third-grader Raine DeAngelis.

A piece of paper and pencil in hand is how the assignment started for Raine and her classmates at Holly Lane Elementary in Westlake.

"I thought it was going to be fun, because I like writing," DeAngelis said. "You get to imagine stuff."

The students originally didn't know their work would be submitted to a national poetry contest hosted by the organization Creative Communication.

"I always try to find ways for my students to take what they learn and make it a little more authentic," said Erin Vanek, a gifted intervention specialist at Holly Lane Elementary. "So it's not just write a final paper, get a grade, put it in a folder, bring it home and forget about it."

Vanek asked her students to develop mystery poems on a subject they couldn't reveal right away. They had to use carefully selected words and phrases to get their point across. It's a skill Vanek said needs more fostering especially with so many kids using emojis and slang to express themselves.

DeAngelis poem is titled "Cemetery."

It looks like ghosts are watching me in the mists.
it sounds like something is screaming in a gust of wind.
It smells like a dirty sock worn for 6 weeks in a row without being washed

"I chose the cemetery because it's something serious, and I went to one last year when my great-grandmother died," DeAngelis said. "But I thought I could write it to make you smile at the end."

Her work caught the attention of judges and will be published in a book containing poems from other contest winners from across the country.

When word came down about DeAngelis' poem being selected there were jitters.

"The students did their own drum roll," Vanek said.

DeAngelis couldn't wait to share the news.

"I was really excited," DeAngelis said. "When I came home, I ran to my house and got to tell my dad."

At first, she didn't know the contest's connection to Taylor Swift.

"I think that's pretty cool too," DeAngelis said.

She wants her work to inspire students to read and write more- maybe even write the next Grammy award winning song.

DeAngelis is in the running to earn cash and other prizes. That announcement won't come until late summer.

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