Callie Quinn reads her award-winning poem from her backyard recently in the virtual 5th-grade graduation ceremony for Patrick Henry Elementary. 

She’s a poet

And she knows it

She has an award-winning certificate

To show us.

Calliope Quinn, who just graduated from Patrick Henry Elementary School in Long Beach, won first place for the third to fifth grade level in the statewide California Association of Bilingual Educators (CABE) writing contest with a poem in Spanish and English titled “Un Día (Someday).”

She was supposed to receive an award

But for right now,

She’s being ignored

Because of the Covid-19 crisis, the annual CABE banquet in San Francisco last April was canceled. The organization told her it would like to invite her to next year’s banquet, but Callie’s poetry reading in front of the group may have to take place in Long Beach if the pandemic doesn’t subside.

“I decided to write the poem because our teacher said that we were supposed to write an essay or poem on what being bilingual means to us,” the 11-year-old said. “I chose to write what I wanted to do, so I incorporated being a marine biologist because I really like the ocean, I like being around the ocean, and I want to help the ocean.”

Callie said it was no easy task writing the poem. As almost all writers can sympathize, she said it took five or six rewrites.

“I had to brainstorm about the topic first,” she said. “And then I had about a week to write it.”

Callie’s mom, Jennifer Larsen, is understandably proud of her daughter. What brought her joy about the poem was her daughter’s insistence that it not read or sound formulaic.

“I was really surprised when I read it, how her voice was in it, and her life was in it, using her Spanish with friends and with families; contrasting now and the future,” Larsen said.

Being a former teacher at Henry — and now at Mark Twain Elementary — Larsen said the bilingual teachers should get recognized for putting in extra hours and hard work:

“It really is such a challenge teaching in a DI program and navigating instruction in two languages, not only for the teacher, but for the students as well. This is a great accomplishment for LBUSD and it speaks to their focus on student achievement.”

The Quinns are a talented family

They play instruments and dance

Quite handily

Callie has been in the LBUSD Honor Orchestra since third grade. She plays the cello. The Quinns’ other daughter, 14-year-old Maile, plays 10 instruments and participated in the Honor Orchestra as well. Larsen plays piano and danced professionally for 15 years while dad Kevin Quinn, also an LBUSD teacher at Los Cerritos Elementary, plays guitar.

Callie, who will enter Hughes Middle School in the fall, said she found out about the award while she was coming home from school when her mom received an email.

“I was quite surprised,” she said.

She got a certificate and some money, too

Who knows what’s next she will do

Hopefully not compose poetry as bad as this writer.

Here is the poem:

Un día…

Un día voy a viajar por todo el mundo

Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina

Pidiendo mi propio café,

hablando con la persona detrás del mostrador

acerca del clima o cuál equipo de fútbol está ganando.

Pero por ahora, solo voy a lugares cercanas

La escuela, la casa de mi abuela, el mercado

Usando mi español para pedir el mejor guacamole, “ no picante”

Y probar todas las aguas frescas que ofrece el mercado Northgate.

Un día voy a ser biologa marina

Descubriendo, documentando, buceando

Cerca de la costa de España

Compartiendo mis curiosidades con científicos multilingües

Pero por ahora, tengo a mi perra, Tilly

Siéntate, quédate, silla

Y ella subirá las escaleras a la bañera en Petfood Express.

Esperará un regalo por hacerlo también.

Un día mi fondo multicultural y multilingüe

atraerá a gente de todas partes para escucharme hablar.

El conocimiento sobre cambio climático y su efecto en los océanos.

Los peces, el plástico, la temperatura

¡Salva nuestro planeta!

Pero por ahora, ser un estudiante en la escuela Patrick Henry

Es lo que tengo.

Usando mis idiomas y cuidando al planeta es un día…

Comunicación con mi familia y amigos es hoy en día.


Someday I’ll be a world traveler

Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina

Ordering my own coffee, talking to the person behind the counter

About the weather or what sports team is winning.

But for now, I just travel to nearby places

School, grandma’s house, the market

Using my Spanish to order the best guacamole, “not spicy”

And try all the different juices that the Northgate Market has to offer.

Someday I’ll be a marine biologist

Discovering, documenting, diving

Off the coast of Spain,

Sharing my curiosities with the multilingual scientists.

But for now, I have my dog, Tilly

Sit, stay, “silla”

And she’ll climb up the stairs into the bathtub at Petfood Express.

She’ll expect a treat for that too.

Someday my multicultural and multilingual background

will bring people from all over to hear me speak

Bringing awareness to climate change and its effect on the oceans

The fish, the plastic, the temperature

Save our planet!

But for now, being a student at Patrick Henry is what I’ve got.

Using my languages and helping the world is Someday.

Communicating with friends and family is Today.

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