CHINO VALLEY - When teacher Holly Garcia talks about poetry, her eyes light up and she beams with enthusiasm.
Garcia loves poetry so much, her eagerness rubs off on her fifth-grade students at Del Rio Elementary School. They love the creativity, the silliness, and the imagery - just like Garcia.
This is why every year, Garcia requires her class to write a poem for her school's poetry contest.
"The kids can write any style of poems," she said.
The only stipulation is that students write rhyming poems with at least 12 lines.
Garcia wants her kids "looking at things from a unique perspective," something they can do with poetry.
Plus, Garcia said poetry teaches children how to "show, not tell" with words, an important aspect to the "ideas" sector of the AIMS (Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards) test.
Patricia Allen-LaFleur is Del Rio's computer teacher and has been on the schoolwide poetry committee in past years, even though she is not part of it this year. She said the contest has been going on for many years, and the school's parent/teacher organization contributes money for gift certificates to Barnes & Noble as prizes for the winners.
"The kids get really excited about it," she said. "We get a lot of entries."
Wade Strader, 10, won second place in 2006. As a student in Garcia's class, he is writing another poem for the contest this year called "Pig the Shape of a Fig."
He said he likes the rhyming part of poetry, as well as the creative aspect.
Emily Andreasky is another student in Garcia's class. "I wrote about the mall," she said, with a big smile on her face. "The thing I like about poems is the rhyming and how you can tell a story."
The poetry contest at Del Rio will finish on Dec. 14, when all entries must be in. Then, a panel of judges will decide who wrote the best poem.