Teen’s poem prompts generosity

Carly Eathorne, 15, won first place in her school and second place in the CK district in the PTA Reflections Program. - Photo by Valentina Petrova
Carly Eathorne, 15, won first place in her school and second place in the CK district in the PTA Reflections Program.
— image credit: Photo by Valentina Petrova

Carly Eathorne’s poem placed second in an art competition, but it won the hearts of the Chums of Barker Creek.

The competition that Eathorne, a ninth-grader at Fairview Junior High School, entered was the Reflections Program, a national Parent Teacher Association arts recognition and achievement program.

The theme for the 2005-06 Reflections is “I Wonder Why...” When Eathorne set off on a journey through her imagination, she decided to write about something ordinary, something that people take for granted.

In her poem, she described a tree, as observed “though a sunlight drenched window.” A finch perched on a branch flutters about and sends “the dew from the surrounding branches” tumbling down “to the inviting moss below.”

The scene Eathorne describes in the poem prompts a wonder — why people take beauty for granted.

“I concluded/That the world will work/When we all wonder why beauty can be regarded as commonplace,” wrote Eathorne in the last three lines of her poem.

“I think it would be nice if every day somebody got to experience something like that,” Eathorne said in an interview this week.

She wrote the poem in November last year, but the description was a familiar one.

“Sometimes in the mornings in the summer I sit in my room and that’s what I see,” Eathorne said.

The creative writing sample struck a chord with Mary Bertrand, president of the conservation group Chums of Barker Creek. Bertrand and her sister Kathleen Pinsch, secretary of the Chums, served as judges in the Reflections contest after being contacted by Tara Morrow, CK PTA Council chairwoman.

“She asked my sister and me if we would judge some of the literature and some of the art on the junior high level,” Bertrand said.

While reading the entries — handed to judges with an anonymous reference number, instead of a name — Bertrand decided there was one selection that would be perfect for the Chums’ newsletter.

“There’s something about that poem that gets to a deeper part of your being,” Bertrand said.

She contacted Pinsch and asked whether the author would give permission to the Chums to print the poem.

Eathorne’s work was printed on the first page of the December newsletter and Bertrand sent it out to everyone who has ever paid membership dues to the organization.

One of the inactive members on Bertrand’s list was Los Angeles resident Robert Radin.

Radin was passing through the county on his way to Port Townsend to visit his daughter in the early 1990s, Bertrand said. He stopped by the Kitsap County Fair & Stampede and was enamored with the Chums’ mission. He became a long-distance member for a few years.

The last time Radin paid a membership fee was 1996, Bertrand said.

Reading Eathorne’s poem inspired Radin to send another contribution 10 years later. With it, he mailed a letter addressed to the Chums.

“In a world that seems quite bankrupt, we are rich and most secure if we have this sweet pure soul,” Radin wrote about the young poet.

Reading the letter this week, Carly’s father, Mark Eathorne, beamed.

“When I look at this, I’m just swelling with pride right now,” he said.

From the offset Carly was under pressure for academic success, because she was raised by two teachers, Mark Eathorne said. Carly’s father is a physical education teacher at Fairview and a former math, social studies, science and student government teacher. Carly’s mother, Julie, teaches second and third grade venture program students at Emerald Heights Elementary School.

“We’ve never pressured (Carly) to do well in school but we found out her best is pretty good,” Mark Eathorne said with a smile.

Recently recognized at the Kitsap County Red Cross Heroes Breakfast, Mark Eathorne said no one ever pushed him toward success and leadership, he did it on his own account. And Carly follows in the same path, he says.

“I can’t hardly think of a time when I’ve sat down to help her with homework,” Mark Eathorne said. “We don’t hover over her.”

The poem’s success could be measured in the Reflections Program award, or in Radin’s letter, or in the shower of requests for copies of text that Bertrand received when she read the piece at a community meeting.

Carly defers her skillful word-painting to a passion for poetry dating back to first grade.

“In first through third grade we weren’t focusing on things like WASL, so we wrote a lot of poetry,” she said.

The interest in poetry she developed as an Emerald Heights pupil lingered and Carly continued to enter occasional competitions and write for herself or her parents — gifting them a poem for Christmas. But her “I Wonder Why” poem was the first piece that appeared in print and gained a fan base beyond the competition.

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