Saint Mary's To Hold River of Words Poetry & Art Awards Ceremony At San Francisco Library

What: Twelve remarkable young poets and artists ranging from age 7 to 17, and more than a dozen national finalists, will be honored at the 18th annual River of Words International Youth Creativity Awards on Sunday, April 21, 2013, at 1:30 p.m. in the Koret Auditorium of the San Francisco Public Library.

Conducted in affiliation with the Library of Congress Center for the Book, the Saint Mary's College of California annual River of Words (ROW) contest, which is free and open to the public, celebrates both National Poetry Month and Earth Day, and is the largest youth poetry and art competition in the world. The River of Words International Youth Creativity Awards features award-winning children's poetry and art from around the world and recognizes educational leadership in environmental literacy.

Award winners this year include young people from across the country, including Alabama, Arizona, Georgia and California, and the contest's international art prize-winner, a 16-year-old from Malaysia.

River of Words (ROW) is a program of the Center for Environmental Literacy in the Kalmanovitz School of Education at Saint Mary’s College that promotes education initiatives which integrate nature and the arts into K-12 classrooms. The program inspires children and youths to translate their observations about their local watersheds and environment into creative expressions in poems and paintings. It also trains educators around the world in how to incorporate nature exploration, science and the arts into their work with young people.

The ROW International Youth Creativity Awards will be emceed by former U.S. Poet Laureate, and Saint Mary's alumnus, Robert Hass, who co-founded the contest in 1995 with writer Pamela Michael, who now directs the Center for Environmental Literacy at the College. The 2013 winners and finalists were selected from thousands of entries from around the world by Hass, Michael and renowned wildlife biologist and illustrator John Muir Laws.

“The overall mission of River of Words is to promote literacy through art and environmental awareness. Our goal is to help children fall in love with the Earth, and you can see in the works of these young artists a deep and respectful love of the world around them,” said Hass.

"Beyond recognizing talented young artists" said co-founder Pamela Michael, "the program also fosters teaching environmental awareness and creativity based on the natural world around us in classrooms across the country." During the April 21 ceremony, John Oliver Simon of Berkeley, California, will be honored as the 2013 River of Words/Saint Mary’s College Kalmanovitz School of Education’s Teacher of the Year.

When : 1:30 p.m. Sunday, April 21, 2013

Where: Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, Calif. 94102

The 2013 River of Words International Youth Creativity Award Winners include:

International Art Prize

Ong Chai Thing, Age 16, Georgetown, Malaysia

Poetry Grand Prizes

Category I: Grades K-2, Taylor DePrincipe, Age 8, Tucson, Arizona

Category II: Grades 3-6, Chioke Allen-Alvarez, Age 10, Oakland, California

Category III: Grades 7-9, Ella Boyd-Wong, Age 14, San Francisco, California

Category IV: Grades 10-12, Sara Jane Kachelman, Age 17, Florence, Alabama

Art Grand Prizes

Category I: Grades K-2, Happy Leveson-Jones, Age 8, Sandy Springs, Georgia

Category II: Grades 3-6, Athena Marlin, Age 10, Norcross, Georgia

Category III: Grades 7-9, Jennifer Zhuge, Age 13, Palo Alto, California

Category IV: Grades 10-12,  Claudia Li,  Age 16, Santa Clara, California

Special Prizes

Monkey's Raincoat Haiku Prize, Aladdin Wong, Age 10, San Francisco, California,  

Shasta Bioregion Prize, Adriaan Debroeder, Age 14, San Francisco, California

Anacostia Watershed Prize, Olivia Henshaw-Black, Age 12, Fort Republic, Maryland

Teacher of the Year

John Oliver Simon, Poetry Inside Out, Berkeley, California

2013 Finalists hail from: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Washington, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Serbia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Background: For more information about the River of Words International Youth Creativity Awards, or to request digital files of winning art and texts of the poems, contact River of Words and Center for Environmental Literacy Director Pamela Michael at Saint Mary's Kalmanovitz School of Education at (925) 631-4289 (office) or (510) 914-1583 (mobile), or by email at; or visit


Michael McAlpin
Director of Media Relations
(925) 631-4222 office
(925) 878-9535 cell

About SMC
The Saint Mary’s College of California experience inspires learning that lasts a lifetime. For nearly 150 years, the College has provided students with a rigorous education that engages their intellect and spirit, and awakens a desire to transform society. Guided by the Christian Brothers, the Catholic Church’s oldest order dedicated exclusively to teaching, the College enrolls more than 3,800 students in undergraduate and graduate liberal arts and business programs. For more information visit Saint Mary’s College at and just 23 miles east of San Francisco.