Carmel student’s poem on immigration wins national competition


Kate Jentz was thrilled enough to win the Indiana creative writing contest from the American Immigration Council.

The topper came when the Carmel 11-year-old recently learned she had also won the national competition.

Kate Jentz

“Hearing that my poem won the whole contest was the most shocking and exciting news of my life,” Jentz said.

Jentz will read her poem at the American Immigration Council’s American Heritage Awards gala June 21 in Kissimmee, Fla. It will be held during the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Annual Conference. Jentz and her parents, Brian and Ansley Jentz, will receive an all-expenses paid trip, including the flight and three-night stay.

Jentz’s entry will appear in the summer issue of Skipping Stones magazine, a nonprofit publication for youth that encourages communication, cooperation, creativity and celebration of cultural and environmental richness. She will receive a free subscription for herself and her teacher and copies of the magazines.

The state contest was sponsored by AILA Indiana Chapter and Exodus Refugee Immigration.

Jentz, who recently completed fifth grade at Towne Meadow Elementary School, was  honored for her state-winning creative writing entry, a poem entitled “Tell Me A Story,” in the “Why I Am Glad America Is a Nation of Immigrants” contest. She read the poem during a naturalization ceremony May 16 at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Indianapolis.

“It was cool because this is a really big moment in their lives,” Jentz said. “For me to be part of it was really special.”

The creative writing opportunity was an option in her class.

Jentz, an avid reader and writer, said the purpose is to portray “how immigration affected your life or your loved ones’ life and how it benefits America.”

Ansley Jentz said she is thankful her daughter’s teacher, Lisa Kuhn, shared the information on the contest.

“It led to an awesome experience and opportunity for Kate,” Ansley said.

A project her brother, Jack, had done when he was younger inspired Jentz’s poem. Jentz had learned from that of her grandfather’s tale of his relatives’ immigration from Germany.

Jentz’s fictional account is based on an immigrant from Spain.

“It has stanzas of four, with two- and four-rhyme,” Jentz said. “I just thought poetry was the best way to portray it. Poetry is packing a punch with far less words. To describe the whole story in storybook form in 500 words would have been really hard.”

Tell Me A Story

By: Kate Jentz

The rain splashes down

It covers the world

Like a blanket of water

That’s been gently unfurled

Drops land on the window

Knocking to come in

I open my book

I’m ready to begin

But the book has no words,

Not a single at all

I drop the book

And watch it fall

I grab my coat

And head for the door

I’m searching for stories

I’m searching for more

Up the avenue

Across the street

Lies an old house

With people to meet

Wind in my hair

Hope in my eyes

My Abuela steps onto the porch

Where a story lies

“Tell me a story.”

That’s what I say

To my grandmother

On that rainy day

She responds with a smile

And points to a chair

Abeula begins

As rain splashes her hair

She tells of festivals,

Dances and lights,

Fiestas and siestas

On warm summer nights

“This is my story.”

Abuela starts to explain

“I was a little girl

Living in Spain.”

“Why did you leave?”

I wonder aloud

Her shoulders square

Tall and proud

“There was a war

That broke out

Our family fled

And traveled about

Looking for a home,

Safe and sound


Was the land we finally found

I met new people

From all different places

Everyone was unique

All different races.”

Her smile twinkles

And a tear slips by

“America is beautiful”

Is all I reply

“America is beautiful.”

Abuela says loud and bold

“Every immigrant has a story and every story must get told.”

I listen as her words fill my heart

Every culture is beautiful

Like a piece of art

I smile to myself

Knowing that it’s true

“America is beautiful

Because of immigrants like you.”

I look at Abuela

As I utter these words

She simply points to the sky

She points at the birds

The eagles glide

And soar through the air

A rustle of wind

Blows through my hair

I step off the porch

To get a better view

Abuela smiles

And steps down, too

Our eyes meet

As Abuela starts to speak

She grabs my hand

And the eagles reach their peak

“You have to stay strong

Like an eagle with might

When things get tough

You have to fight.”

“Thank you!”

I call as I start to leave

I know what to do

I have a story to weave

Down the avenue

Across the street

Lies my house

With people to greet

Hope in my eyes

Wind in my hair

I rush inside

With lots to share

I dash to my bedroom

Pick the book off the floor

And write Abuela’s story

Until my hand is sore

I think about Abuela,

America’s glory,

And immigrants’ impact

On our country’s story

I’m busy working

When I hear a knock

“Come in!” I call

The only response is a quiet walk

I set down my pen

My sister walks in

She asks for a story

And so, I begin

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