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Huntingtown Elementary School fifth graders will soon be able to add “published authors” to their list of achievements.

Susan Dorris’ fifth grade class recently had 21 of its poems selected to be published in “The Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans,” a national publication to which Dorris said she has been having her students submit their work since 2005.

She said the poetry submission was part of her class curriculum on poetry and figurative language, which she said also really helps students with their reading comprehension.

Dorris said the publishers of the anthology were looking for a “fresh approach” and a rhythmic sound, though the poems did not have to rhyme.

She said they typically publish about 55 percent of their submissions, but published 75 percent — 21 out of 28 — of the ones from her class.

“We were really pleased,” Dorris said, explaining that the anthology will be released in 2013 and the students are now turning in permission slips from their parents to have their work included.

Dorris said for the poems for the anthology, she started by having students draw a heart and think of “what touches your heart the most.” The students then wrote down words, sentences and paragraphs about their choice topics, which they eventually put into stanzas.

“If I just asked them to ‘write a poem,’ it doesn’t go very well,” Dorris said. “Learning to write is learning to think. ... All good writers do that; write what you know.”

Emma Nahas, 10, said she did just that by writing about her favorite pastime: Dance.

“I really enjoy dance and it makes me feel fresh and like I don’t have to worry about anything,” she said.

Lauren Harriman, 10, said she also selected to write about dance “because dance is really fun [and] nobody judges you, so you can express yourself and feel really relieved about it.”

Eleven-year-old Eric Rhoads said soccer was his topic of choice.

“I wrote about all the positions and how you can play them,” Eric said.

Rather than select an activity, Clare Prouty-Due, 10, said her cat turned out to be the topic closest to her heart.

“She’s special to me and I raised her since she was a kitten, and I saw her being born from her mom,” Clare said, continuing that she wrote about her cat’s green eyes “and how she likes getting into mischief.”

The students said poetry was among their favorite lessons of the school year.

“It makes it so it’s your own and you can make it more beautiful than any other kind of writing,” said Emma Taylor, 10.

“It just gives you a chance to express yourself in your own unique way. ... You can be in your happy place and write about whatever you want,” said 10-year-old Savannah MacAulay, who said the only tactics she wouldn’t recommend when writing poetry were copying someone else’s work or “[writing] long paragraphs about things that don’t make sense.”

Ten-year-old Connor Currie said he also enjoyed the lack of restrictions in poetry.

“It’s your poem and it’s your choice,” said Connor, who said he wrote his anthology poem about swimming.

The students said that 10-year-old Gabriel Matthews chose one of the tougher subjects for his poem, which focused on books.

“Gabe did a good one because he’s a really good writer,” Emma Taylor said.

Gabriel said he wrote about taking the words from every book and putting them into a mountain.

“I just really like to read books,” Gabriel said.

Having their work published was the cherry on top of a fun unit, the students said.

“I’m a bit nervous because I know other people might be reading my poem, and I’m a bit excited at the same time,” said Joshua Isaacson, 10.

ldukes@somdnews.com