GOA Poetry Student Captures Gold Medal in Scholastic Writing Contest

GOA Student Wins Poetry ContestThis June, an award-winning poet and her teacher will meet for the very first time at Carnegie Hall inNew York City.

How does this happen? Through the GOA course Poetry Writing, where Jaclyn, a senior at Lake Highland Preparatory School (Orlando, FL, USA) wrote a poem that was awarded a gold medal by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, an honor that includes invitations to her and to her teacher, Jeff Schwartz of Greenwich Academy (Greenwich, CT, USA), to the awards ceremony in New York.

Jaclyn is an accomplished writer: her prose and poetry have appeared in the Adroit Journal, decomP, and Cheap Pop and is forthcoming in Teen Vogue. She wrote “Of Bees and Brothers,” the award-winning poem, as part of her work in the GOA course (read the poem below).

“At the time of writing ‘Of Bees and Brothers,’ I’d been struggling with my older brother going to college out of state and starting his own life,” she said. “I’m also really interested in bees, both in real life and as imagery, and I started learning more about them after my brother left. The poem serves as a parallel of my real life in that way; that is, when my brother left, the bees came.”

“The poem astonished all of us in the class as soon as we heard it, which happened to be in a group Skype meeting,” Jeff said.

Jeff designed the course to be as interactive as any in-person writing workshop. As much as the students are writing poetry, they are engaging in discussion and feedback both synchronously and asynchronously. Strong relationships were the foundation of the collaborative work of the course. Learn more about the GOA student experience.

“Together, we created an online culture where everyone felt free to share early, personal drafts,” Jeff said. “This helped students take chances and grow. They trusted each other, and were rewarded with increasingly detailed peer and teacher comments that offered 1) praise and 2) constructive suggestions. They are engaged and compassionate thinkers and writers — just the kind of people we want to share the planet with!”

Jaclyn added, “Mr. Schwartz was incredibly helpful in the revision process. The collaborative process is important in revision because I tend to get so absorbed in my work that I can’t see its flaws. Mr. Schwartz encouraged me to continue revising and gave me suggestions on what to examine more closely.”

For Jaclyn, the online learning experience helped, rather than hindered, her process.

“Poetry was my second GOA course and I’ve taken a few other online classes in the past. I love how flexible online courses are and the flexibility translates wonderfully when it comes to poetry. It was great to be able to write poems on my own time and then go back to a collaborative discussion where I received feedback from my peers.”

Joining Jaclyn as Scholastic Award winners are her GOA classmates Madi (Bishops School, La Jolla, CA, USA), Jaclyn (Greenwich Academy), and Geena (Savannah Country Day School, Savannah, GA, USA), all of whom won regional awards.

Congratulations to all!

Students, want to be a part of this poetry writing course or other GOA experiences? Join us in 2017-2018! Teachers, want to learn more about tech-enabled teaching? Join us this summer for online and in person professional development.

Of Bees & Brothers


We were twins born three years apart,

more identical than not. He was born

in a hurricane, myself in a honeycomb.

He left slowly over months of decreasing

attention / affection / how does someone

find a word to describe running away backwards?

Later, I found a swarm of bees inside my throat,

crawling up to fill my cheeks with honey.

I pressed my lips against their hive,

told them: Don’t worry; You are not alone.


I kept the drones in my hair and they crawled

in my ears and out my nose and eyes,

coated my lashes in yellow pollen with their minuscule legs.

When someone asked where he’d gone,

I opened my mouth and bees flew out.

They taught me the trick to flying (don’t look down)

and how to forget people once and for all (sting them!).

They do not have family, they have:

an apiary / a colony / a hive / a swarm / a kingdom.

They do not run away, they fly home.


They fed me the food of the gods,

honey / ambrosia / nectar; got me drunk

and told me prophecies. They were buzzing oracles,

but even though they knew what was coming, they lied about it.

They flew around my head and told me what direction to walk.

People stayed away from us, an aposematic bee being

with a human heart and not much else. Am I their queen

or are they mine? They told me they loved me,

but my brother used to tell me bees can not be trusted.

When they stung me I told myself they could not help it.


I found the first body when I brushed my teeth,

stuck between my back molars. The next morning

there were three caught in the back of my throat.

I asked my queen How many ways can you say good bye?

farewell / so long / Godspeed / adieu

When she died, I kept her body safe under my tongue

until I could speak again. When they were all gone,

I drowned myself in honey and wept for the bees.

We were diseased and destroyed ourselves and each other;

I was not sweet enough for them to stay.

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