"Find Your Voice And Inspire Others To Find Theirs"
Steven R. Coven, Author of The 8th Habit

In his new book, The 8th Habit, Author Steven R. Covey, widely acclaimed for his best selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, states that "Voice is your unique personal significance - significance that is revealed as we face our greatest challenges and which makes us equal to them. When you engage in work that taps your talent and fuels your passion - that rises out of a great need in the world that you feel drawn by conscience to meet - therein lies your voice, your calling, your soul's code."

This article is in recognition of the tremendous contribution that the Northern Ontario Council of Teachers of English have made over the years by inspiring young students to express their ideas through poetry. Congratulations to NOCTE and best of luck to all current educators as they "inspire others to find their voice".


The anthology which is shown above, published in 2004, is a compilation of student poetry published in Northern Lights from 1970 to 2003. Each year the best poems submitted from thousands of students throughout the north were published in previous editions of Northern Lights. This last edition contains examples of winning verses from all of those previous years.

In her epilogue to the final edition, Eve Kendel, the NOCTE Chair and Coordinating Editor of Northern Lights Final Edition, stated,

"To read poetry is thoroughly entertaining, a special delight, a rewarding experience. The perusal of this text brings forth humorous, nostalgic, lifetime remembrances. May it stir readers to write their own feelings and emotions.
There are no good-byes. Poetry will continue to affirm the human spirit in words that show individuality and yet. prove that all humanity is connected.
NOCTE is proud and delighted to preserve for future generations the wit and wisdom of writers who have so well caught the spirit of Northern Ontario."

On behalf of the Northern Ontario Council of Teachers of English, Eve Kendel also wanted to express her extreme gratitude to the Retired Teachers of Ontario Project - Service to Others Committee for providing a grant which was used to help publish this final edition of Northern Lights.Without their support, this beautiful anthology would not have been possible. The books that were printed were donated to all participating schools, to public libraries, to senior homes, patrons, etc. The remaining books are being sold to cover the final expenses.

Unfortunately, Eve Kendel passed away in August 2007. This site is a testament to the tremendous contribution she made to education.


Anthology of Student Poetry

In 1969, several teachers of English toyed with the notion that student writing required a vehicle for communication of such to a larger market than the classroom teacher. Hence, a number of "pioneers", namely Don Scott, Bernie Fleming, Sister Maris-Stella, Peter Evans and the Riddles, formed the Northern Ontario Council of Teachers of English. One of the Council's initial objectives was to develop an anthology of student poetry...Northern Lights.

Below you will find a group photo taken during one of the meetings of NOCTE.

Poetry was accepted from any student from across Northern Ontario. The first anthology was published in 1970 and 15 poems were included. 

Since it's humble beginnings, until the 34th and last edition was published in 2003, the area was enlarged to include poems from students as far west as Sault Ste Marie, north to Timmins, and east to North Bay. There are eight categories, from class poems to senior high school student poetry. Each school was invited to submit its best poems each year prior to the mid-winter break. Following two days of judging, the final poems in each category are put into print.

The poets who appear in print were recognized at a special presentation "Poetry Showcase". They were each asked to read their poems and were presented with a copy of the anthology along with a certificate of recognition. The poets who excelled in each category were also presented with a trophy.

According to Sister Maris-Stella, President of the Ontario Council of Teachers of English, Midnorthern District, in her preface to the first edition of Northern Lights, "One of the principal objectives in sponsoring this contest was to give tangible indication of our concern and interest in creativity in English for all students across the K-13 and post-secondary spectrum. We hoped the contest would give "grass roots" support to both teachers and their students in the fostering of creative expression. Another purpose is to promote interest on the part of teachers in the work that NOCTE is trying to do. A poetry contest might be the most effective way of bringing NOCTE and its potential use as an organization to the attention of educators in Northern Ontario."

Over the years, the strong support from the School Boards, the Principals, Teachers, Patrons, Parents and especially the talented Students helped create a most memorable experience.  RTO/ERO District 4 also lent a helping hand. Sincere thanks are extended to all concerned.
1st Edition
34th Edition

From the very first poem... To the very last poem...
Written by
Brian Giffen, Age 10
Alexander Public School, Sudbury
Written by
Sean Sullivan, O.A.C.
St. Charles College, Sudbury

A flutter of a bat's wings
Breaks the eerie stillness of the forest.

The soft padding of paws
Upon the cool forest floor
Echoes through the silent darkness.

The sharp stare and glimmer of golden owl eyes
Pierce the beckoning darkness.

They seem to say
"We are supreme, this is our domain."

Any unwary traveller would be terrified
With the surroundings.

The trees rule supreme.
The forest awakens.
Day has come.

Deep within me
Under the smiles,
The laughs,
The kindness,
Rests the silent emotion.

Rarely rearing its head,
Repressed deep within my heart,
Bubbling up periodically
And brutally smashed down.

A tiny flame burning
Around the heart,
Tightening like a vise:
The silent emotion.

The loneliness and pain,
Grieving for my fallen brother.
If only he could've flown.



The recipients of the Sister Maris Stella Award for 2004 are shown in the above photo. From the left: Doreen Bertrand, Eve Kendel, and Cy Power.

The Sister Maris Stella Award is given...

  • in recognition of the responsible and influential role that school teachers perform in encouraging students to write and appreciate poetry as a creative art form;
  • to honour those school teachers who, through their leadership and sustained effort, have made an outstanding contribution towards the encouragement of poetry writing by the students throughout Northern Ontario;
  • to stimulate interest in planning, implementing, and supporting high quality programs in the English language which are essential to an effective educational program.

Eve Kendel presents a copy of the final edition of Northern Lights to Mayor John Rodriguez.

Above, Eve  Kendel receives her Sister Maris Stella Award from Michael Barry.

Below, the group of members of the NOCTE gather during the Christmas Dinner celebrations to share memories of over 34 years of promoting poetry writing among young students in Northern Ontario. From the left: Ann Dube, John Kovalchuk, Eve Kendel, Dr. Laurence Steven, and Mayor John Rodriguez.


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