Patti Jo Boyd encourages her Critical Thinking class at Palmerton Area Junior High to read with understanding and to think beyond the text, to write clearly, creatively and specialize in self-expression.

During poetry lessons on Robert Frost and Edgar Allan Poe, she tells her students they can be poets too.

"This is a terrific opportunity for every child to be on an equal playing field. Some students meet me with resistance, as others are up for the challenge. I tell them to think about a topic they are passionate about and therefore, words will flow from their mind and heart. Some students are doubtful, but in the end, even the resistant students realize they have the ability to be an amazing poet. Poetry is magical," said Boyd.

She submits their poems to the "Anthology of Poetry," a yearly publication. They select and publish the finest poems and short stories submitted by student writers and provide teachers with an objective forum for their students' creations in soft and hard cover formats.

This year the PAJH's students' topics ranged from love, death, trust, appreciation, starting over, making mistakes, war, divorce, fun times, attitudes, sports, animals, Christmas, hunting and even a tissue.

"I've been writing poems since I was eight or nine. And to finally have one published is amazing," said Amy Ruger.

"I felt great because somebody like my ideas. Normally my ideas are blown off but this was different," said Trent Haydt.

"It honestly surprised me. I didn't expect it. It made me happy," said Ryan Penburg when he found out his poem was accepted.

"To be a published poet, I feel as though I can now achieve greater feats in life and take yet another step toward following my dreams," said Caytlin Bloss.

"Seeing the students' excitement and amazement when they learn they have been publishes is just one of the glorious moments in my teaching career. I believe in my students, and it is a pleasure to be a part in their accomplishments and they receive the gift of acknowledgment for a lifetime," said Boyd.