South Portland Students’ Poetry Featured in Community Celebration of ‘Hope and Light’

light and hope - Landinha Josefina

The South Portland community celebrated the season of light and hope at the Millcreek Tree Lighting Celebration last month, featuring students from South Portland School Department reading poetry.

Hosted annually by South Portland Parks and Recreation, South Portland/Cape Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce, and South Portland Human Rights Commission, the event showcases over 5 miles of lights that are strung around the various trees that grace Millcreek Park in the City of South Portland.

Families and community members enjoyed an outdoor evening wandering around Millcreek Park, listening to high school musicians sing festive tunes, warming themselves by fire pits, taking selfies with Santa, and greeting neighbors as they sipped hot cocoa and ate popcorn.

This year, the theme of light and hope was beautifully represented in the poem and essay selected to be shared that evening.  Be The Light, by Mahoney Middle School student Sarah Beth Lupien and Hope and Light, by South Portland High School student Landinha Josefina were read to the crowd.  Other poems which earned honorable mention were Imagine… by Victoria Mambu (written in Portuguese and English), Light and Hope by Eme Brown, and Little Firefly by Gretchen Hanley.

This year’s new element was a visual art piece introduced by the South Portland Human Rights Commission.  Sputnik Animation, in collaboration with local artists Pedro Vazquez, James LaPlante, Cindy Thompson and Joe Goodwin, introduced a 20 ft. tall fabric structure which could be seen from every corner of Millcreek Park.  Authentic images of light and hope from cultures around the world were aslo projected onto a screen throughout the evening.  The event also collaborated with South Portland Bus Service to provide free city bus rides, to help families attend the event.

“How amazing for these students to get the chance to express themselves and their cultures through art, leadership, and performance,” said Deqa Dhalac, Maine Department of Education Family Engagement/Cultural Responsiveness Specialist. “At a time when the pandemic has separated us in so many ways, it is so wonderful to see schools and community groups look for ways to stay connected through it all.”

The evening culminated with presentations at the gazebo by outgoing mayor Misha Pride, president of the South Portland/Cape Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce Alice Goodwin, as well as poems on the theme of light and hope shared by South Portland students.  DJ Genius Black helped the crowd share in some collective positive energy to turn on the decorated trees around Millcreek Park.


Sarah Beth Lupien
Student at Mahoney Middle School

Hope is a smile
Hope is a conversation between strangers
Hope is a laugh
Hope is a positive message: Be kind, love always
Hope is a light in the dark

Light is “I’m here for you”
Light is “It will be okay”
Light is “I’ll help you”
Light is “We’ll get through this together”
Light is saying “I love you” and meaning it

So be the sun
Rise every day
And when darkness surrounds you
Find a way to shine again

So be the moon
Light up the sky
And when you can’t find your light
May other help you shine again

When you find yourself in a sea of storms
Find your power, find your hope
Find the courage to find your light
Because the light will not come
Because the light does not come
The light is already there
You are the light
So be the light
Find the hope
Be the light

Hope and Light

Landinha Josefina
Student at South Portland High School

What is hope? It is said that hope gives us the strength that we all need to overcome our sadnesses and troubles. Hope is a belief that we all must have, believing that something good will happen, something that will brighten our present and future, something that will make us happy and something that will lighten up our day. Hope comes anytime and any day to lighten up our life. Throughout the pandemics last year we didn’t get the chance to gather here like we are today and that is what I call hope.


Victoria Mambu
Student at Memorial Middle School

The destruction
the extinction
What it means to us
the hunger
the thirst
Imagine being in your home
and suddenly not returning
To leave the place
where you could recreate
and be reborn
only because of a being
who does not know how to live
nor understands what survives.
Knowing that the same air
the animal emanates
You also breathe  


A destruição
a extinção
o que isso significa para nós
imagina você estar no seu lar
e de repente não voltar
deixar o lugar
de onde podia procriar
e renascer
só por causa de um ser
que não sabe e compreender
o que sobreviver
saber que o mesmo ar
que você respira
o animal também transpira 

Light and Hope

Eme Brown
Student at Mahoney Middle School

I am walking through the Park
I see lights everywhere
Those lights give me a spark in my eye
A spark that tells me to find faith and hope
It took me a while to find it,
But eventually I did.

I have faith we will get through the pandemic together
I have hope we will have the best holiday season ever
Although we have to battle the pandemic
We will defeat it together.

Bright holidays to all
And to all of us
A hopeful night.

Little Firefly 

Gretchen Hanley
Student at South Portland High School

We’ve traveled long and far
Worked tirelessly and hard
But even the strongest seemed weak at times
After all, we were blindly climbing, searching for a sign
So many fell, begging to stay
To hold on, at least until day
All that we’ve done, those who were lost
Some gave up, some couldn’t go on
We were swallowed by the dark
But through the eclipse we saw a spark
One brave soul lit the night
It wasn’t much, just a small simple light
A single firefly lead the way
A single firefly kept us awake
But that single firefly turned into more
What started with one, soon became four
Suddenly a million lights danced through the sky
So shine your light little firefly
It started so small
But it kept us alive