School No. 5 student Adriana Fernandez won first place among all fourth-graders in the “Young Writers of Union County” poetry contest celebrating Arbor Day. 

Adriana’s poem is titled “My Pear Tree” and centers around how much joy the tree brings her.

“I tried to talk about how pretty the tree was,” she said, adding that the poem wasn’t based on a real tree but one she made up.


The contest was sponsored by the Union County Board of Freeholders and Union County Shade Tree Advisory Board. The aim was to give students “an opportunity to obtain a greater understanding of Arbor Day by allowing them to portray the importance of trees in our natural environment and man-made landscapes, by focusing on the benefits, beauty, and contributions of trees to our communities,” Freeholder Andrea Staten wrote in an introduction letter.

two teachers posing with student in school hallway

School No. 5 fourth-grader Adriana Fernandez with her teachers Kara-Lynne Frees-Spoganetz, left, and Elena DiMeo.

Elena DiMeo, Adriana’s teacher at School No. 5, was impressed by the poem even before it was submitted to the contest.

“When I read the poem myself, I really liked it,” she said. “Then out of the whole county to see her get this award, I was really pleased. It’s good!”

But Adriana’s success does not surprise her teacher.

“She’s a shy student when you first meet her, but as you get to know her she’s very charismatic,” DiMeo said. “She has a lot of personality. She’s very bright and is a hard worker.”

After winning, Adriana may focus more on her poetry.

“She’s in our talent show and she usually sings,” DiMeo said. “But after she learned that she won, she changed her talent to poetry. So she’s going to be reading poems for the talent show.”

Adriana will be honored along with other winners at the May 16 freeholders meeting.