Hannah Hoffman

Sidwell Friends School




Chevy Chase


Washington, DC

Favorite Author or Book:

Tera Lynn Childs

Dream for the Future:

I’d like to work in medicine

Inspirational Figure:

Michelle Myers


This is a poem inspired by my mother’s experience immigrating from Russia, and starting kindergarten.


Walking into kindergarten

I look around carefully

Clutching my grandmother’s arm.

She mutters soothing words in


My language.

Listening to the


They say

Looking at the


They play with

Sniffing the


They breathe.

Autumn leaves are starting

To change.

So am I.

The teacher smiles.

Says something

I don’t understand.

I look at her,


She smiles and

Repeats it.

I don’t like this.

Not yet

At least.

I try to smile

More like a grimace.

“Good-bye,” I say.

She laughs and

Says something else.

I want to cry

I blink back tears,

Try to compose myself.

I say, “Hello, you.”

She keeps talking

Babbling on

And on

And on

And on.

I look around.

Other children are

Coming in.

They know each other.

Not me.

The teacher still


Her voice has changed.

It’s louder and slower.

I hear my name

Or something like it.

She puts her hand

On my shoulder

And pushes me

Into the classroom.

The tears come now

Pouring out.

I look around.

Someone else

Is handing out


I’ve never had this kind—

Oatmeal chocolate chip.

And cups of chocolate milk.

I take one

The tears still pouring out.

I taste the cookie.

The tears slow

Coming to a stop.

It’s sweet

And full of hope.